I have chosen 5 exercises/massage techniques for specific areas of the body where I feel people often become stuck or hold tension. Hope you enjoy them and feel the benefits.
1) Foot Massage – massaging the soles of your feet can have an incredible effect on releasing tension in the plantar fascia (pad of the foot), which connects into your Achilles tendon and into the calf.
Start by massaging the sole of your foot with a soft massage ball, slow movements rolling the ball around the foot. Then start massaging along the arches of your foot and finally apply pressure by stepping on to the ball and releasing it. The pressure and release technique can be used in the arch of the foot, ball and heel.
2) Back Massage – excellent for mid back muscles and to relieve stiffness
Place 2 massage balls just left and right of the spine and by the lower tips of the shoulder blades. You can move the balls if this isn’t comfortable. Allow your pelvis to be in a centred position and stabilised on the floor with pelvic floor and deep abdominals engaged. The spine is elongate and head supported by your hands. Lengthen backwards over the balls and let you head go to the floor or be placed on a pillow. Open your elbows to the floor to stretch the front of your chest but bear in mind not to let your chest/ribs ‘pop’. You want to feel your ribcage lengthen and soften towards your hips at the front. Bring your elbows forward and bring your chin softly to your throat. Curl your head and upper back off the floor using your deep neck flexors and tummy muscles. Try not to use your arms to pull your head up. Repeat the extension over the balls with the arm movements a few times. After this, curl up again and bring your feet closer to your bottom. Lift your bottom off the floor and then push and pull yourself up and down the massage balls. This should give you a wonderful massage for your back. Finish by taking the balls away and allowing your body to rest for a moment.
3) Sternum Massage with upper back extension – Great for opening up the chest where an unbalanced posture/tension can create a downward pull of the sternum to the floor and cause the shoulders to become overtly rounded.
Lying on your front, place a ball under your sternum, making sure the ball is on the bone and not towards your ribs. Allow your head to rest on the floor with your elbows bent roughly 90 degrees to your shoulders or where it feels most comfortable and your hands on the floor. Start by breathing and allowing yourself to soften and relax as best as you can over the ball. If you find this too much then you can place a cloth between you and the ball or take the ball completely away. Engage your pelvic floor and deep abdominals and lift your nose a 1cm off the floor. Breathe in and lift your upper body forward and up feeling like you are gliding your sternum on the ball. Breathe out and feel yourself naturally lower approximately 1 cm. Repeat this again two more times (3 in total) feeling as though you are rising higher and higher each time. Soften all the way to the floor and take the ball away.
4) Mermaid with glute massage – the glutes and particularly the external rotators in the hip could do with some tension release and hydration of the tissue. Sitting in a Z –sit position where the back knee is bent like a hurdler and the front is bent out to the side and your foot faces inwards, place the ball under the right sit bone or to the side of it. Allow the pelvis to drop onto the ball. Arms reach out to the sides. Raise your right arm and initiate a long side bend to your left feeling a big stretch on the right side of your body. Place the left hand on the floor. Breathe in to the stretch, then exhale and reach your right arm forward to spiral your ribcage inwards and down to the floor, creating more tension and stretch on the right of your body. Un-spiral from this and return your body back to the seated upright position and counter stretch to the right side bringing your left arm up.
5) Glute and thigh massage – starting with the ball in the glute area move around the ball in a circular fashion to massage the entire gluteal area. After this manoeuvre the ball down the side of the leg and massage down the side of the leg allowing the ball to zig zag down the leg to the outside of the knee. Turn your body to face the floor and then massage the ball up the front of the leg ending at the top of the thigh by the hip one.