I send most of my clients home with suggestions of how they can maintain the benefits of their session with me by using a few self massage tools on a daily basis. It is really important to get consistent bodywork sessions to combat chronic pain but as equally important to work on yourself 5- 7 times a week for 10-20 minutes to help with what I call dissipating your day from your body. Have you been sitting at a desk all day looking at a computer or driving a car for one to three hours during your commute? Or is an old chronic pain issue flaring up again. Often all it takes is a few minutes compressing the area with one of the below tools to help relieve the issue. Consistent use can help move you away from holding patterns that may have been around for a lifetime. I suffered from sciatica for over a decade. Once or twice a year I would become confined to a bed for days unable to walk from as simple a motion as bending forward to pick up something off the ground. Since I started using a Mah Roller and a soft ball on my back I have never had a sciatica attack. Gone ! Never to return. I recommend making compression style self massage a part of your daily routine just like brushing your teeth or eating a meal three times a day. Be playful and explore your body, there are no rules except to stay off of your spine and bones. If you have any questions or would like me to show you how to use these tools in person ask me after your next session. I will update this list from time to time so check back.
1- Mah Roller
I use a larger version of this Earthlite Massage Roller almost every day. Great to compress and roll along the two muscles that go along the spine. Below the ribs compress and hold and above the ribs roll on it. I like to put my legs up on a chair or sofa for more pressure. Avoid putting pressure on your spine and all bones. You can also use on your calves, shins, back of head and neck, and glutes. I sell a larger version that has been custom made in Bali and is not available elsewhere. The Amazon one is fine to start with but you may outgrow it. Be playful with it and search for areas in your body where you feel sensation, compress, hold and breathe for about 7 breathes.
2 – Softballs
Yes, like the ball from the game softball. If I had only two tools to use it would be the mah roller and this. Don’t be fooled by the name they are not soft ! I use a soft ball much like how I use my knee when working with a client. It offers a broader surface than say my elbow or thumb and can compress a wider area all at once. I like to use a softball on my low back, quadratus lumborum, shoulders, deltoids, triceps, pecks and especially my glutes and piriformis muscles. Most of this is done lying on my back (pecks on the front), putting the ball where I feel discomfort and leaning my body weight into it. I recently brought a softball in my carry on luggage on a 14 hour plane ride to Asia. I used it on my back,shoulders, and glute muscles right in my chair. I do not do much rolling, this is best used as a long held deep compression tool. Go slow and breathe!
3- Body Back Buddy
The Body Back Buddy Trigger Point Therapy Self Massage Tool is my go to tool for getting into my traps and rhomboid muscles. Just about everybody that I work on has a few knots in their traps and especially their rhomboid muscles. This is the tool to dig into them. I recommend hooking one end around your thigh while seated to add more pressure. I also like to use the handles on my stomach for deep pressure point work. Its great to keep next to your sofa to use while watching t.v. Check out my friend Candi’s excellent video on how to use one below.
The Acu-Masseur is a must have for people who have tightness and pain in their neck muscles. You can also use it on your traps, shoulder, calves, and forearms. The golf balls can be moved into 2 different positions to adjust the width.
5- Lacrosse Balls
Lacrosse balls are great to use one or two at a time. Perfect to add pressure just about anywhere. I like to use this inside of my scapula, low back, along the muscles bordering my spine, hips and glutes. You can can step on it with bare feet to massage your feet. I also love to use this along the occipital ridge of my skull. After working there I will move it along the back of my neck. You can also get into your scalene muscles by putting the ball on a yoga block or a stack of books. This can be very intense so please go slow and also consider softening the ball with a towel.
6- Small Soccer Ball and Sky Balls
I use a small #3 or #4 kids sized soccer ball on my abdomen on an empty stomach. Rather than roll, find an area where you feel tension and hold the ball over it for 5-7 deep breaths.To get a little more pin-pointed and intense I love to use the even smaller Sky Ball. Its hard but has a little give to it as well. It is perfect for releasing your psoas muscles. When working on the abdomen remember its best to move in the direction of the large intestine. So move clockwise from right to left.
7- The Armaid
The Armaid is awesome ! Great for body workers, mountain climbers, musicians and anyone who uses their forearms all day long. Can also help people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. I use it with a little bit of oil or lotion. It is available with multiple attachments but I love using it with the larger and harder extreme orange roller.
8- Ryobi Cordless Car Buffer
Oh man this is a good one. Yes, a car buffer. Note the Ryobi linked here does not come with batteries or a charger. Buy those separately. This thing is so good. Take off the cover and just use the foam part to massage over your entire body. Keep it moving as it generates a bit of heat. This can be used on bare skin without a problem. It sends an amazing vibration throughout your body and is great for myofascial release. Please do not use near long hair ! Keep any hair that touches your shoulders up in a bun or ponytail as it may get caught in the buffer and get tangled into it. I learned this the hard way. I like the Ryobi cordless one so you can pull it out anywhere and not have to worry about power or the cord getting in the way. Buy at least two batteries. Here is a good overall explanation. Also, search for car buffer videos on YouTube.
A Teishin is a small needle like instrument made of cooper, silver, jade or gold that is best described as needle-less acupuncture. Used along the same meridian points as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Teishin works in the same way as acupuncture without penetrating the skin. You can find more information here. You can use Teishin therapy anywhere you feel pain however I tend to just use one with my thumbs and hands. Go slowly as you can puncture the skin if you press hard enough. My thumbs can get pretty congested with stuck Chi after a long day of doing body work and the Teishin needle does a great job of clearing it. I do not follow meridian points but rather just poke it where it hurts and keep moving it all around my thumb and hand. As you press into a sensitive area the pain may be a 8 or 9. It will feel like a bee sting. As you hold the pin in place the pain will dissipate slowly. 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 after which move the pin to another location. This should only take 30 seconds to a minute. I may hit 10-15 spots in my hand and thumb in one go. You may feel energy move up your arm at times. I also like to use it before sessions with clients as well. I had two handmade by Katie Yankula . I got 3 inch copper ones. Keep them in some kind of a vial or the like as they can bend easily. Also, before you use them dip the tip in some anti-bacterial gel to keep them clean. This thing is a thumb saver !
10- Thai Reflexology Stick
I use a Thai Massage Reflexology stick as well on my thumbs and hand. Not as intense as the Teishin pin but able to compress a slightly broader area. I particularly like to use this on the fleshy belly of my thumb. They are cheap so buy a few. I keep one by my desk, one at my bodywork studio and one in the car for when I am stuck in traffic.
Tools I am experimenting with:
Not yet ready for a recommendation. Here are a few things I am playing around with. Will add more details as I gain experience with them.
1- Nayoya Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set
A bed of nails to stimulate the body’s pressure points. Do this without a shirt! Also try it on your belly with a kettle bell or weight placed on top.
2- Captain Crush Gripper
Ok. Not a massage tool. But something that I just got to help build the strength in my grip. I noticed my grip was getting weak a few months ago so I started to do a lot more self massage as well as getting bodywork on my forearms. This helped a lot but I also want to slowly start to build up strength to see if the combination of massage and strength building will help. The Captain Crush Gripper is a serious tool to help do this. Really high quality and most importantly available in 11 different strengths from 60 pounds to 365 pounds of resistance. I recommend doing fewer reps with a stronger grip then a ton of reps with the lighter one. Right now I am using the 80 pound one and only doing 12 reps on each hand 3 times a day. Do not use to the point of burning your grip out. I am going to use this in conjunction with the Voodoo Floss compression band that I mention in my next blog post.
***Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. Please use these tools at your own risk.
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