If you’ve been stockpiling stress from this year, it’s probably dying to be pounded out of your body with a head-to-toe massage. But if you’re lacking a second pair of hands (or your partner has delicate mosquito hands), it’s hard to knead out that tension like an aggressive child with Play-Doh… unless you learn how to give yourself a massage.
Because, okay, it’s not the same as getting a professional to do it. But in a pinch, you can still reap the benefits of a DIY full-body massage.
“Self care through a massage done at home is a great way to get blood circulation going,” says Mona Dan, LAc, herbalist, acupuncturist and founder of Vie Healing. “Finding areas of tightness and soreness and using your thumbs in a combing fashion in one direction to release the area is key.”
It’s also a good way to connect with yourself if you’ve felt, um, out of touch and orgasm-less. As sexologist Rebecca Alvarez Story and founder of Bloomi pointed out in a recent Well+Good Q&A, taking care of tension in your muscles can help you relax and release sexual anxiety. “Self-massages are great for reducing stress and strengthening your mind-body connection,” says Story. ”There really isn’t a wrong way to do a massage on yourself if you focus on your tense areas and use strokes that feel good to you.”
That being said, we’re giving you all the tips and tools you might need to give yourself a massage you’ll truly enjoy.
How to give yourself a massage
Like you were going to the spa, make sure you block out some quiet time to perform the massage beforehand. Even 30 minutes should do the trick. “If you can, prepare your body by taking a hot shower or bath before your massage to relax your muscles,” says Story. “The compound effect of relaxed muscles mixed with your massage will help you fully enjoy touch and destress beautifully.”
Feel free to get some oil ready, light some candles, put on relaxing music, the works. Then, you want to start with massaging your face.
“Find your laugh lines or wrinkles and gently try and pull apart the adhesions wrinkling the area together,” says Dan. “Move slowly to feel what is underneath your fingertips and pull your fingers away from each other, to almost separate the wrinkle. Starting with your face gets you familiarized with the layers beneath the skin.”
Feel free to work some oil in as you attend to the rest of the body in these strokes.
“As you get more familiarized, move down your neck to your shoulders, down your arms,” says Dan. “Then move to the areas of the thighs, where you feel more sore, where you see cellulite, where you find the indentations of the muscles. Feel where the ligaments and tendons attach to your muscles.”
How to make it a sensual massage
If you’re looking to seduce yourself a little, the process towards a self-sensual massage is very similar. It’s really more about how you bookend the experience. For this, you want to be laying in a warm bed, with or without your clothing. Then, you want to start with the head.
“Take a few moments to take some deep breaths and begin with a scalp massage,” says Story. “Warm-up some massage oil in your hands and with your fingertips, push up on your scalp towards the top of your head, hold a few seconds, and release. You can do this in sections on your entire scalp. If you prefer to not use the oil in your hair, it’s fine to save it for your body and use a hair oil you like.”
You can work your way down in a similar fashion, as a regular massage, using oil all the way down. And it’s very optional, but you can pay very intentional attention to your more erogenous zones.
“If you feel up for it, make this a self-pleasure massage where you incorporate a breast and vulva massage as well,” says Story. “You can deepen your strokes—think deep tissue massage—with your hand, or use a flexible body massager wand for pleasurable rumbled vibrations, or use a ceramic massager that glides easily over the body for added sensations.”
Helpful tools to give yourself a massage
That brings us to our last part: your self-massage toolkit. These items can either amplify your self-massage, or, if using your hands feels like too difficult to master, can take care of the massage completely.
“If you have a cupping set at home or a gua sha tool, working the different areas of the body with these tools is great to break up scar tissue or connective tissue adhesion,” Dan says. Use this to scrape and almost polish your skin, so you’ll be blessed with a dewy, smooth, complexion. Then, once you’re ready, work your way down.
Shop now: Best Jade Gua Sha Scraping Massage Tool, $18
2. Jimmy Jane Massage Stone, $25
For something a little sensual, Story recommend this ultra-curvy massage rock by sexual wellness brand Jimmy Jane. The stone is malleable to temperatures, which means it can either turn up the heat or cool down your sore muscles. The choice is yours, but you’re in for a treat either way.
Shop now: Jimmy Jane Body Massage Stone, $25
This isn’t meant to be sexy, despite being literally blue balls (sorry, if I can’t unsee it, neither can you). Anyway, if you desire the feeling of a deep tissue Swedish massage, this can simulate those sensations. Simply apply pressure while sprawled on a hard surface, like hardwood floors versus a bed or carpet. A little discomfort is [thumbs up emoji] to get your tension unlocked. A lot of pain is simply not what we’re aiming for, and maybe switch up the location if you’re facing that resistance.
Shop now: RAD Roller Deep Tissue Peanut Massage Tool, $25
You might already use your trusty foam rollers to recover after a brutal work out, and if such is the case, you know that it can relieve muscle soreness. If you want a massage that incorporates a good stretch, you can put your roller to work.
Shop now: Trigger Point Performance Grid Foam Roller, $35
5. SVAKOM Emma Neo Interactive Warming Wand Vibrator, $129
I think we’ve gone full circle when it comes to the massage wand — that used to simply be a euphemism for a vibrator. Meanwhile, this wand boldly advertises that it’s a vibrator that can make you orgasm in 20 different styles…and yet I use it mostly for massages. I mean, it’s heated, guys! Laugh all you want, but nothing makes the tension between my shoulder blades melt more than this.
Shop now: Emma Neo Interactive Warming Wand Vibrator, $129
6. Theragun Mini, $199
Theragun is the luxe recovery tool that’s perfect for recreating an intense full body massage…but the price point can be a little steep. One awesome compromise you can make? Get the Theragun Mini, a smaller version of the beloved device which can give you a real pounding. Note: this is definitely not the option for a vulva massage, stick to the wand for that.
Shop now: Theragun Mini, $199
7. Sliquid Escape Massage Oil, $26
“For your body, make sure you use high-quality massage oil with organic ingredients like Sliquid Escape Massage Oil,” says Story. “Anything we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream, so organic nut or coconut oils are healthy, ideal base oils with soothing properties for the skin.”
Shop now: Sliquid Escape Massage Oil, $26
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