Anne Stein, M.S.
It can take hours to build up stress, but a simple, five-minute massage that focuses on the upper back, head and neck can quickly melt away tension – and at least for a few minutes, give you a fresh outlook on life.
We talked to our favorite massage therapists for tips on delivering a massage guaranteed to relieve stress. While some of these techniques may take a bit of practice, others are simple and work immediately. Too fancy for your liking? Check out our Moji 360 Ultimate Bundle to get your five minute massage made easy!
First, a few guidelines: These tips are for a chair massage. Second, don’t massage bone! It doesn’t feel good. Third, be sure to occasionally ask if the pressure’s ok — too much can hurt but too little’s ineffective.
Finally, giving a massage can be just as relaxing as receiving, so try to enjoy what you’re doing. Close your eyes and feel the movement of muscle beneath your hands and fingertips.
- Step one: If possible, have the person sit backwards on a chair, with a pillow placed between the chairback and the chest and head leaned gently over the pillow. Otherwise, have the person sit upright yet relaxed in a chair, with feet flat on the floor and palms gently placed on thighs.
- Step two: Massage works best if the receiver’s relaxed. Place both of your hands on the upper back and press down, gently, and repeat. Or, place both forearms, with hands facing down, on either side of the neck and press down gently. Hold a few seconds, move outwards until you feel shoulder bone, and repeat.
- Step three: Shoulder squeeze. Gently place one palm on the outside of shoulder and second hand above it along the upper trapezius (top shoulder muscle). This is an area that gets especially tense and tight if you spend time in front of a computer. Squeeze muscle gently and hold for a few seconds. Move up the trapezius an inch at a time toward the neck and repeat. When you reach the base of the neck, go back and repeat, then move to other side.
- Step four: Gentle circles. This is easy to do. On one side of the neck, make small circles with your fingers, starting at the top of the neck and moving down the shoulders. Repeat before going to the other side.
- Step five: Extensor circles. The extensors are the neck muscles that hold up your head — and hold in a lot of tension. To release these, place thumb on one side of neck and four fingers on other, gently kneading circles for 5-10 seconds in one spot. Move up slowly to cover entire neck.
- Step six: Head/scalp massage. Place fingertips gently on temples and make small circles, working your way up the scalp. Gently rub the scalp with fingertips, as if massaging in shampoo.
Other techniques for relaxation: Use gentle karate chops (sides of your hands) or gentle fists to tap the back and shoulders. Finish the massage with a few light strokes down the neck and back with fingertips of both hands.
If you don’t have a partner handy, self-massage with Moji 360 Palm is another option. Gently rubbing and massaging your hands and feet (paying careful attention to pulling and rubbing each individual toe and finger, as well as massaging the palms and soles) relaxes the entire body and mind – plus they’re easy to reach.