When you need a massage, there is no real substitute for a good bodywork session. Even as a trained massage therapist, giving myself home treatments isn’t nearly as good as receiving from a trusted professional. The benefits of fully relaxing and receiving bodywork from someone else facilitates healing on multiple levels. Massage doesn’t just provide pain relief, it reconnects and centers the mind, body and spirit.
But getting a massage right when you need it most isn’t always possible. So what do you do when you’re in pain, stretching isn’t enough and you can’t get in for a massage right away? Here are a few home treatments and tools I use to work on myself.
Theracane is my go-to self massage tool. There are numerous brands similar to Theracane, but I prefer it’s shape and knob placements which I find to be the most versatile. It’s more effective and easier to use ergonomically than the typical at-home tricks of using a tennis ball against the wall or doorframe in between the shoulder blades. It comes with a guide to show you all the ways you can use it to massage any area of the body. Personally, I use it most often for: Neck Pain, Upper Back Pain, Lower Back Pain
Foam Rollers are very helpful for all kinds of pain in the body. There are many options and my favorites are the GoFit and Trigger Point. YouTube has many videos on how to safely use the foam roller depending on what area of the body you want to massage. The Go Fit style is my preference because it also works well as a tool for opening the anterior (front) torso muscles. Line up the roller along your spine and let your arms relax wide to the floor in a t-shape. You will feel a lovely stretch in your pectoral muscles! I use it most for: Back, Neck, IT Band, Glutes, Quads and Calf tension or pain
Roleo, a tool specifically for forearm and wrist pain. Every massage therapist I know has experienced pain and often tingling in their forearms, wrists and hands. Not surprisingly, the Roleo was developed by a massage therapist as a self-treatment tool to use after giving many hours of massage. It is also very helpful for anyone who uses their hands a lot with computer work or other hand-intensive activities. The Roleo does create a fair amount of pressure even at the lightest setting, so if you prefer light massage the foam roller or contrast therapy may be better treatments for you.
Trigger Point Balls are my favorite for Foot Pain. They’re easy to use when sitting and relaxing. and are also good for hand massage so you don’t have to use each hand to massage the other one.
Salt Baths are my favorite overall treatment and I blend Epsom and Sea salts in the tub to get the most health benefits. Epsom salt isn’t actually salt, it is magnesium sulfate. The body needs magnesium to repair muscles and can absorb it through the skin, which is why epsom salt baths are so effective as an at-home treatment. It’s also cost-effective and doesn’t require you to use any other muscles to treat the areas of pain. Just relax and breathe! Don’t get the cheap epsom salts though - quality makes a difference. You can purchase homemade sea salt/epsom salt blends from me directly, or online from my local trusted source, Saltworks.
Contrast Therapy (alternating hot and cold) is another great home remedy. It requires minimal set-up and can be done on most areas of the body, but is especially helpful for hand and foot pain. Read more about how to use contrast therapy here.
Topricin has long been my favorite pain relief cream, though it doesn’t provide immediate benefits. It is a homeopathic anti-inflammatory cream and takes me 4-5 applications to notice it helping. But using it regularly has provided relief when I’ve had pain. It has zero odor and rubs in like cream so it isn’t greasy or sticky.
Sombra is my preferred cream when I need pain relief NOW. It is menthol-based and more natural than similar creams. It also has a light citrus scent that fades within 30 minutes, so you don’t have to walk around all day reeking of menthol. It pairs well with Topricin and I’ve often used the combo when I’ve over done a workout and my quads feel too sore to walk down stairs... whoops!
These products and methods are the ones that I have found to help me the most as a full-time bodyworker for the past decade. And no, I don’t receive any compensation for linking to these products. :-) I just love them that much and want to share them with others as reliable at-home treatment methods! There are of course numerous variations of all of these products, so as always, choose the one that works best for you.