Has WFH got you feeling aches and pains in muscles you didn’t even know existed? Try these massage techniques from Lush that can easily become part of your daily routine.
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A massage is a uniquely luxurious experience, relaxing for both the body and the mind, not to mention an incredible form of self-care. It’s the perfect way to treat yourself but it’s not always something you can make part of your daily or weekly routine.
Unfortunately, for many of us, aches and pains are a regular part of our lives, especially with most of us having worked from home for the past year. With that in mind, learning the art of self-massage might be a pretty good use of your time, especially if your flatmate or partner isn’t too keen on the idea of rubbing your feet on a regular basis.
The therapists at the Lush Spa have made it their mission to create the perfect massage, with a number of their treatments claiming to offer just that. They carefully choreograph their massages in specific ways to make sure the muscles are as relaxed as possible.
Two therapists who spend their days teaching the Lush therapists how to give the best massages have offered their advice on how to safely give yourself an effective massage. Helen Clark is the Lush Spa trainer, Oxford Street and Alanda Colegate is the lead spa trainer for the Lush Spa Training Centre, so they both know a thing or two about getting rid of knots and soothing tired muscles.
Helen’s tips for the best at-home massage
Find out what the problem is first
“Assess where your tension is and what could be causing it. A lot of people are now working from home and bending over laptops is causing sore shoulders and a tired lower back. Try looking at your workspace and making it as comfortable as possible,” says Helen. Posture is the key. Helen recommends following The Alexander Technique: keeping your back wide and long, chest open and your neck long and free.
If you are going to attempt self-massage, Helen advises using a massage medium. “We use Lush’s plastic packaging-free solid massage bars that melt at skin temperature,” says Helen. “Hottie and Wiccy Magic Muscles are particularly effective as they have warming essential oils in them that you can feel working. You want a nice slip on the skin so as not to cause too much friction.”
Heat is essential
“Warm up the area well,” says Helen. “This gets the skin and muscles ready for deeper work and relaxes the muscles. You can also start to feel for areas of tension or what are commonly known as ‘knots’ at this point.”
Play with pressure
“If you have found an area of tension you can gently release it by applying a small amount of pressure to the area,” says Helen. Increase the pressure as the area starts to relax. It can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes for the tension to be released. “If it’s a big knot that we often find in the shoulders it may take a few sessions for the knot to disappear,” she adds.
Gentle movements are also important
Make sure you gently massage over the area after you have applied pressure points. “This encourages the area to self-heal,” Helen explains. Gentle applications of hot and cold cloths can also help the muscles to self-heal.
Remember massage should be relaxing. If you are not confident in the area you are massaging then ease off the pressure. Make sure you stretch before and after, whether you are the one giving or receiving the massage.
Alanda’s expert massage techniques for the feet, back and legs
Massage techniques for the feet
“With any massage, warm your product first,” Alanda says, explaining that you should always warm a product, whether it’s solid or liquid, in your hands before applying it to your skin.
“Rest your foot on your knee so you can see what you’re doing,” she continues. “Then use both hands to squeeze the foot.”
Alanda says that you can also use the heel of your hand on the heel of your foot to create circular movements, as well as using your thumbs to work different areas of the foot, like the ball of the foot. “That will increase the blood circulation and start to warm the muscle and ease any tension,” Alanda says.
You should be careful not to apply too much pressure to certain areas of the foot, like the arch of the foot, but the rest you can squeeze and apply a significant amount of pressure to.
Alanda says five minutes is a good amount of time to spend massaging your feet and it can be good to stretch the feet out afterwards.
Massage techniques for the back
“Prevention is better than cure,” Alanda says, explaining that thinking about the way you’re sitting, especially when you’re at a desk, is the best way to prevent back pain. However, there are some massage techniques that will help too.
When it comes to massaging your own back, Alanda recommends focussing largely on the trapezius muscle which is at the top of your shoulders. “I think if you grab the top of your shoulders, you can sometimes feel knots and tension in there so this is a nice area that you can reach yourself,” she explains.
“It’s a little bit easier on your left side with your right hand and then you can support your elbow with your left hand and do circular movements and squeeze that muscle there,” Alanda continues.
Massage techniques for the leg
“Whenever you’re performing massage you’re always trying to encourage the blood back to the heart so you always want more pressure moving the blood back up the leg,” Alanda says adding that you should “try and avoid pressure towards the ankle because that’s taking the blood flow in the wrong direction.”
When it comes to massaging your own legs, Alanda says it’s important that you make sure that, if you’re in a sitting position, your back is supported. “You can quite easily work with both hands to help move the blood back up the leg,” she says, explaining that while you can move your hands up and down the leg, take care to apply more pressure on the way up.
The calf muscle can be particularly tight, especially if you walk a lot or run, so Alanda says that you can really knead this muscle; whereas on your thigh muscles, using circular motions with your thumbs is most effective.
Helen Clark, Lush Spa Trainer, Oxford Street
Helen is a Lush Spa Trainer at the Oxford Street branch who helps therapists offer the highest standard of treatments. She helps them to become qualified trainers.
Alanda Colegate, Lead Spa Trainer and IQA for the Lush Spa Training Centre
Alanda has worked in the beauty and spa industry for over 28 years. She now specialises in teaching, assessing and international quality assurance for the Lush Spa Training Centre.