Shoulders, back and neck.
This is where I, and many others, tend to feel the most tense and in need of a massage.
Working on these areas feels great and can help you feel much better.
What you may not realize is that there are parts of your body not commonly thought of that when massaged, can help create a whole body state of calm and relaxation.
These 6 often snubbed or overlooked hotspots on our body, can help you find a new meaning to feeling amazing.
The best part: you can massage some of these areas yourself.
1. The Ears
Ears weren’t just made for hearing. They have reflex points that we can massage to counteract whole body and mental stress as well.
One of the most famous anxiety-releasing spots is called Shen Men, or “The Gate of Heaven”.
The Chinese believe pressing near the top of our ears, just inside the rim can immediately bring us into a state of calm, relieve headaches and reduce stress.
Joseph Feuerstein, MD, director of Integrative Medicine at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut reveals how you can self-massage this point:
“Press or massage Shen Men firmly on one ear for a minute as you breathe deeply. Do each ear. Tilt the head from side to side to release the neck, between pressings.”
You can also learn how to give your ears the massage they deserve with this helpful video tutorial from licensed massage therapist, Rachel Richards.
2. The Thumb
Let’s face it, we spend a great deal of time using our hands for one activity or another. Our thumbs are a vital part of what makes our hands so versatile and useful (remember difficult it was getting through a day with an injured thumb?)
Without our thumbs, we can’t grip, throw, punch, or even get dressed.
There are 8 muscles in our thumb alone!
Fingers have a gazillion nerve receptors connected to our body, which is why our fingers provide a window into our health.
Massaging fingers can release tension throughout the rest of the body. Just give it a go for yourself and feel the difference.
If your thumb is really sore or stiff, to the point that you can’t open a jar, try massaging your hand and thumb to bring relief to tight, painful areas of your hands.
3. The Wrist
Our wrists and fingers tend to be neglected despite their importance and constant use.
Below the wrist is another vital acupressure point known as the “Inner gate” or the Pericardium 6.
According to Mind Body Green, massaging this point helps calm a racing heart. The “wristband technique” is also popular among those who suffer anxiety. Wearing and snapping the rubber bands whenever we’re anxious can calm us down.
If you want a more soothing experience then opt for a wrist massage, or do it yourself. by using your thumb to press on your wrist for four seconds then massaging it in a circular motion.
Clasping your hands as if you’re praying and to open and stretch the wrists relaxes the surrounding muscles and helps relieve wrist tension.
4. The Diaphragm
The average person at rest takes about 23,040 breaths per day.
And the diaphragm is the primary muscle of breathing.
But did you know the diaphragm is also the neglected superstar for core and spinal stability?
Meaning, if your diaphragm isn’t in top shape, you’re more prone to pain and injury. Hence the importance to maintain “core strength”.
Elan Shacter at MassageNerd offers some good massage techniques for releasing tension in the diaphragm in his video tutorial.
5. The Gut
There’s always been a scientific link between gut health and digestion.
Recently there’s a buzz around how massaging our stomachs can be helpful to good digestion.
Dr Iona Bramati of IBC Care, who is a specialist in Visceral Osteopathic Treatment (VOT) believes massage is all about increasing the mobility of our guts.
“Visceral osteopathy is used to optimize blood and lymphatic supply to the internal organs aiming to restore its function.”
Walking, running and exercising are the common ways that peristalsis (movement of food through the digestive tract) is promoted,”Dr. Bramati disclosed to the Independent.
As many of us will admit, however, we don’t move our bodies as much as we should, often sitting at our desks or couches for long periods of time.
The benefits of a simple belly rub are also numerous like promoting a good sleep and relieving abdominal and hip flexor tension.
You can also try your own gut massage. Kren Schuft, PT, DPT shares her favorite technique called the “I love You Massage”.
Use your hands and fingers to gently stroke your belly along the path of the large intestine in a gentle clockwise movement (in the direction your digestive tract is already moving food). Continue for 10 minutes using light pressure for a calming experience that also helps your body move food along its path smoothly.
6. The Buttocks
We often skip massage on our buttocks, even though the gluteus muscles are some of the largest and most used in our bodies.
A variety of techniques include compression, friction and deep strokes. Getting a butt massage can help counteract long hours of sitting.
It can also help with acute pain, tight muscles and soreness from overuse by relaxing these strong muscles and encouraging proper blood flow to return to the deep tissues of the glutes.
What Does Massage do to Improve the quality of our lives?
Massage has always had a reputation for being the “ultimate pamper treatment”. It just feels good, no matter any related benefits.
Unfortunately, stress is the norm for many of us and massage is no longer a luxury.
It’s preventive health care that our bodies need to help stay physically and emotionally balanced.
Different massage techniques serve different purposes and help relieve pain, anxiety, depression, improve blood circulation – all leading us to enjoy a happier, healthier life.
We hope you’ve learned a few new tricks to manage your own health and well-being in this article. We also encourage you to seek out the assistance of a massage professional near you to help keep you on the right track to personal wellness.
Make massage part of your health routine. Get connected to one of our best massage therapists now.