Self-massage techniques

ive read previous posts on massage that have been very helpful. Could you guys give me some advice about the best ways to massage my leg and hip areas. How should i stroke the muscles?

Thanks for your time

You’re working at a mechanical disadvantage so you can’t be too picky about the best way to stroke the muscles. It’s a compromise, so you have to accept that limitation.

The quadraceps are obviously the easiest muscles to work on since they’re right in front of you and you can usually get pretty good leverage. I would simply use standard strokes that you can learn from most resources.

For the hamstrings, I’ve found that body position is critical for allowing the muscle to relax. I prefer to sit back against something and draw the leg up in front of me with the knee pointing up and the hip slightly raised off the ground. This allows the hamstring to completely relax so you can work fairly deep into the muscle. Let the other leg lay to the side on the ground so you can put weight on it when you lift your hip off the ground. In this position you can use your fingers to kneed and stroke the hamstring pretty thoroughly. Your hands will get tired since you’re pulling rather than pushing, but like I said, it’s always a compromise.

I’d also look into foam rolling or other forms of self myofascial release. There is are many online resources about it. There’s also a good book called the Accupressure Warm-Up (I think jamirok or no23 recommended this book recently).

as a general rule, try to massage towards the heart. you don’t want to be pushing blood back down the vessels - it’s bad for the valves. for this reason, I actually find it easier to massage the hamstrings than the quads…

For self massage, buy a Foam Roller, use a baseball or tennis ball, “the stick” a thera cane…and/or other tools.
A good book on trigger point (Marc Coseo, acupressure warm-up at or a video on self myofascial release, can be useful.
Search contrast shower on this forum.

You have here a great resource for self treatments!


What book is better when it comes to introduction of myofascial system, palpation techniques, manual therapy:

Anatomy trains,
Trail Guide to Body, or
Deep Tissue Massage

I have some money to order one… what do you suggest?

i use a 4.oo rolling pin from wal-mart in place of the stick. recently, powerlifters claim foam rollers wear out, so they suggest using a 4" pvc pipe instead. I’ve purchased a 2 dollar rubber balll at walgreens, when i’ m travelling in place of a foam roller. and, it worked fine. i’ve also used tennis balls and lacrosse balls with good success.

Guys, what do you think about this? should i only stroke towards the heart???

“I’m not jamirok but”… I hate it when people say that :smiley:

I have all 3 books.
Trail Guide to the Body is the best for basic muscle and skeletal anatomy… there is some palpation info but no real photos of the palpation techniques.

Anatomy Trains deals mainly with myofascial system. Seems like the most advanced book of the 3 IMO.

Deep Tissue Massage is probably the most well rounded of the 3 books. Has muscle anatomy info and many palpation & massage technique photos.

I’d get Deep Tissue Massage.

It’s a good general rule but you’re not going to die if you massage your quads away from your heart.

Thanks. I’ll try to get all three over time :slight_smile:

"Massage Techniques

The three main categories of massage that are predominantly used in sport are effleurage, petrissage and frictions. Almost all massage techniques are carried out with the main pressure being directed towards the heart. This helps increase venous and lymphatic flow and ensures that no pressure of blood is being pushed against closed valves causes any damage to blood vessels. The only exception to this is where short strokes are aimed at stretching muscle fibres. Because the strokes are limited, there is no risk of pressure being built up."

also, you might want to check out this site about self massage techniques.

google is my friend… :slight_smile:

I would like to hear Jamirok’s opinion also as he has more experience than me.

If you don’t have it, you might want to try Stretch to Win. It covers self-myofascial release and stretching together. It is cheap and pretty good.

Have it and use it! Nice read! 3D stretching, waving with breath… some good and simple stuff.

Argh mortac8…:smiley:

Yes, I agree, deep tissue massage is good!

Jamirok & mortac8…

Does the mentioned three books explain the different types of ‘senses’ (I know… it must be learned practically hands-on, but anyway…) during palpation/massage? How to identify calcification, adhesions, trigger points, bursitis, scar tissue, fat tissue, limphatic nodes imflamation… that kind of stuff… and how to approach threating it?

One problem I have with a lot of the self myofascial release and other deep tissue and trigger point type work is that it’s more remedial in nature than recovery/maintenance oriented. Whether it’s self massage or done by a therapist, I’m not going to use myofascial release or deep tissue as a daily or weekly recovery tool. I’m going to rely mostly on more gentle Swedish or similar methods. In fact, the more regularly you use the more gentle Swedish type method the less likely you are going to develop problems that would require the more agressive remedial methods. Thoughts?

If you have access to Swedish type massage… but most people don’t have!

But you can do similar basic techniques on your own legs. Like Charlie says, just start rubbing.