Living With Chronic Pain

(More) Self-Massage Ideas

Last week we focused on how to give yourself a head, neck and upper body massage. Now let’s talk about ways to soothe and calm aches and pains throughout the day in the rest of the body.

Abdominal relief

Long hours and quick bites between work add up to a growling, uncomfortable belly. These techniques can offer soothing relief.

  • Stimulate digestion and relieve gas and distention by rubbing the abdomen in small circular motions clockwise – the same direction the food moves thorough the intestine.
  • If time allows, lie down and put your palms on the right side of the lower abdomen by the right hip. Massage in widening circular motions up to the ribs, then down the left side back to the pelvis.
  • Massage the bellybutton for a few minutes with small circular motions.

Buttock and hips

Sitting all day stresses the buttock and hips. Here are quick and simple ways to relieve the pressure throughout the day:

  • Lay on your back with the right leg extended. Draw your left knee into your chest and hold to the count of five, feeling the pull in the buttock and back of the thigh. Then pull the knee across your body to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.
  • Add a tennis ball. Sit on the ground with knees bent. Place a tennis ball under your right buttock and lean slightly onto your hands behind your back. Roll in small circles , while applying pressure.

Hip and thigh pain

The iliotibial (IT) band runs from the hip to below the knee and is often the source for pain with long periods of activity that causes pain with prolonged sitting, standing, squatting, waking, climbing stairs, or kneeling. Get a foam roller and try this:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and cross your right leg behind the left. Lean as far to the right side as you can without twisting, and feel the stretch in the knee and outer hip. Increase the stretch by reaching your left arm overhead. Press your left hand into a wall for stability if needed. Build up to a 30 second stretch. Switch sides
  • Stand on a step and let the left leg hang off the edge while keeping hips and shoulder squared. Keep the right leg straight as you lift the left hip up and then back below the edge. Repeat 12 times and then change sides.
  • Use a roller. Position the foam roller under your hip while lying on your side. Bracing yourself, roll down the roller from your hip to your knee angling towards the ground as you go. Once at the knee, slowly roll back to your hip and a side way position. Switch sides.

Ankle and Feet

Too often we forget how much our ankles and feet take the brunt of the work throughout the day. All our weight sits squarely on them every time we walk or stand. It’s time to give a little back.

  • Putting pressure with your thumb, knead the arch with enough pressure to stretch the fascia and warm the area.
  • Do the same on each side of the ankles and then along the back while moving the ankle up and down to stretch the Achilles tendon. Move to the ball of the foot and individual toes, stretching and massaging in small circular motions.
  • *Lace your fingers through the toes and spread them wide. Use the palm to rotate and massage the joints in the mid and fore foot back and forth.
  • Hold your ankle with one hand and use the other to gently rotate the foot clockwise. Start with small circles, slowly increasing to larger ones. Then go counter clockwise.
  • Add a tennis ball -sit in a chair and place foot on a tennis ball. Roll it back and forth from heel to toe working out tender spots with small circular pressure. To increase pressure to this massage while standing.
  • Add golf balls . Fill a shoebox with golf balls and once under your desk, anytime you need a little foot relief slip off your shoes and rub them over the balls. No one needs to know your secret.

Back pain

At some point everyone experiences back pain. For many it never ends. Having a quick, easy way to relieve it is imperative when the days or nights grow too long.

  • Sit on the floor or in a chair with your legs crossed and a straight back. Put your thumbs to the base of the back where it hits a triangular bone- the sacrum. Move in small circular motions up and down. Apply pressure when needed to” hot spots” until they release.
  • Breathe in deeply, hold, breathe out as you massage.
  • Stand and bend to the ground, feeling the stretch in the low and mid back. Then come up and flex backwards, twist and bend to the right and left.
  • *Sit on the floor or in a chair. Keep your hips and bottom straight but twist as far to one side and then the other as you can.
  • Add a tennis ball. Stand against a wall. Place the tennis ball at different positions along your back and move in different ways- up and down- to release pressure points.
  • Lie on the floor with knees bent. Put the tennis ball under a tense spot or trigger point and apply pressure with the ball for 20-30 seconds. Add more pressure by gently rotating and leaning into it or by crossing one ankle over the opposite knee to increase the intensity.
  • Tuck two tennis balls in a sock. Lie down and potion your spine between the two balls, relax into the balls and take a deep breath. Move them up or down and repeat until the entire thoracic and lumbar spine are massaged. Always roll off the ball for safety, otherwise the added weight can significantly increase pressure.


Walking in heels is a killer. We may look great but our calves and feet always pay a price.

  • Sit in a chair and squeeze the ankle at the Achilles tendon between thumb and your fist finger. Knead the entire ligament as you move the ankle up, down and to the sides.
  • Grab the back of the lower legs with your hands and knead the tired, aching calf muscles until they feel warm. Then use your thumb and fingers to work particularly sensitive spots.
  • Stand, holding a chair and go onto your tip toes, feeling the stretch in the calves,
  • Stand holding onto a chair and stretch one leg behind you with your toe on the ground while slowly pushing the ankle to the floor to feel a stretch in your calves.

Don’t forget to add lotions, oils, and scents- lavender has a calming affect- and hot or cold packs to the mix to enhance your own self help techniques to stay active and melt the pain away.










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