Self-Massage and Simple Stretches for At-Home Pain Relief

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

These require little to no equipment and can be performed at home or in the office.


Equipment used:

· 36” Foam Roller PE Foam (We used the lower density white foam roller. You can find these online or check with your local yoga studio or physical therapy office.)

· 2 Tennis Balls taped together (Duct tape works best)

2 Taped Tennis Balls for Self-Massage

Disclaimer: This is not a replacement for professional physical therapy or massage services nor does it intend to treat any specific conditions or injuries.

Self-Massage #1: Suboccipital Trigger Point and Traction

The suboccipital muscles lie deep under the paraspinal muscles and can refer pain to the sides and front of the head.

The suboccipital muscles lie deep under the paraspinal muscles and can refer pain to the sides and front of the head.

For this self-massage, use two tennis balls taped together and rest the base of your head in the center of the tennis balls. You may need to adjust the position with one of your hands. You can then roll your body to a comfortable position to massage the muscles on the back of your neck or hold a static position for some traction.


For this self-massage, use two tennis balls taped together and rest the base of your head in the center of the tennis balls. You may need to adjust the position with one of your hands. You can then roll your body to a comfortable position to massage the muscles on the back of your neck or hold a static position for some traction.
Suboccipital Trigger Point and Traction

Stretch #1: Doorway Pectoral Stretch

This will stretch your pectoral muscles on your chest and front of arms. This stretch can help with pain relief by counteracting the shortening that occurs with slumped working posture.

Pectoral Muscles


Stand in the doorway and place one or both hands at pocket level. Step one leg forward and lift chest.

You should feel the stretch and pain relief along the front of your arms and chest.

Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Stretch #2: Thoracolumbar Paraspinals

Lay on the foam roller lengthwise with your head and neck supported. Use your arms to shift your body back and forth to massage and relieve pain in your paraspinals.


Use two tennis balls taped together for more intense pain release.



Stretch #3: Piriformis Trigger Point

The piriformis muscle is an external rotator and abductor of the hip. It lies deep to the gluteal muscles and can refer pain up to the low back or down the leg.

The piriformis muscle is an external rotator and abductor of the hip. It lies deep to the gluteal muscles and can refer pain up to the low back or down the leg.
Piriformis Trigger Point Stretch

You can perform the figure 4 stretch on a foam roller. Place the ankle of the affected side onto the opposite leg so you are in a figure 4 position. Lean onto that side as you use your hands to adjust your weight as tolerated.


For more intensity and deeper pain relief, you can use your two tennis/lacrosse balls taped together. Perform the mobilization for about 30 seconds at a time.



Stretch #4: Hamstring Stretch

The hamstrings can become tight after sitting for long periods of time. You can stretch them in a seated or standing position!


The “hamstrings” are made up of 3 different muscles in the posterior thigh (long head of biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus). They attach from the hip to the knee joints and act to flex the knee and extend the hip. In order to stretch this muscle you want to put it in a lengthened position—flex the hip and extend the knee.

The “hamstrings” are made up of 3 different muscles in the posterior thigh (long head of biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus). They attach from the hip to the knee joints and act to flex the knee and extend the hip. In order to stretch this muscle you want to put it in a lengthened position—flex the hip and extend the knee.
Hamstring Stretch

Standing: Stand with your legs straight and reach towards the floor. You should feel a stretch in the back of your legs. Maintain the position without bouncing up and down. You can rest your hands on your thighs, shins or the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds.


Seated: Sit on the edge of your chair. Straighten your knee and point your toes towards the ceiling. Lean into the stretch and reach your hands towards your toes if able. You should feel this stretch and pain relief in the back of your leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds.



Self-Massage #2: Foot Massage

Stretching and massaging the foot and toes can help relieve pain from walking or standing on your feet all day. The plantar fascia covers the small intrinsic muscles of the feet and attaches to the connective tissue of the muscles in your calves.

The plantar fascia covers the small intrinsic muscles of the feet and attaches to the connective tissue of the muscles in your calves.
Plantar Fascia
Stretching and massaging the foot and toes can help relieve pain from walking or standing on your feet all day.
Plantar Fascia Stretch
















*You can use the tennis balls taped together or a frozen water bottle.


*Ice massage to the plantar fascia has been shown to alleviate pain from acute inflammation but is not a permanent solution or replacement for proper footwear or physical therapy evaluation.


Seated, roll the tennis ball along your arch. Lean forward to apply more weight to the balls for a more intense massage and deeper pain relief.


Use your hands to interlace your toes. Stretch the webbing and massage along the base of your toes and arch.


References:

Anatomic Images courtesy of Complete Anatomy @3D4Medical

Tennis Balls: https://www.instructables.com/id/Tennis-Ball-Back-Massager/

Referral Patterns: https://dynamichealth.je/2017/06/20/chiropractic-for-tension-headache/

Plantar Fasciitis: Trojian T, Tucker AK. Plantar Fasciitis. American Family Physician Journal. June 5, 2019

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