9 self-massage exercises to relieve work-from-home stiffness


by Ruthie Ontiveros, LMT

May 13, 2020

Working from home certainly has its perks but it can also come with a few drawbacks, like poor posture, muscle pain and increased stress. Fortunately, these are all things that a little massage therapy can successfully address. 

The following self-massage techniques can be performed at home to enhance your physical and mental well-being. The only tools you need are a tennis or lacrosse ball and your hands. Optional tools include a foam roller and massage balls.

Benefits of self-massage while working from home are plentiful and include reduced pain, reduced muscle soreness, enhanced alertness, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved sleep. 

Here’s your guide to an effective at-home massage. Try massaging the following areas for 2-3 minutes each. 

Massaging the head 

Relieves headaches

Using your fingertips, gently press on your jawline, just below the ears. Using a circular motion, move fingers to the temples, then across the hairline, moving your fingers until they meet at the top of your forehead.

Massaging the neck 

Good for tension headaches

Place two or three fingers on the back of either side of the neck, where your neck meets the shoulders. Apply firm pressure and hold until you feel the muscles start to relax. Move your hand up the neck toward the head. Roll your shoulders forward and back. Repeat three times.

Related: How to stay active while working from home

Massaging the shoulders 

Helps relieve tight shoulders and headaches

Place your left hand on top of your right shoulder. Squeeze the muscle and shrug your shoulder, release the pressure as you relax your shoulder. Apply firm pressure and move your fingers closer to your neck in a circular motion.

Repeat on the left side with your right hand.

Massaging the upper back 

Reduces tension in upper back and can help with posture

Using a tennis ball, lean against a wall, positioning the tennis ball between your spine and shoulder blades. Move your body up and down and side to side to find areas of tension. Apply stronger pressure to the tender areas to release tension.

Massaging the lower back 

Relieves tension in lower back from sitting for long periods of time

Again, using a tennis ball, lean against the wall with the ball pressed into your lower back. Be careful not to hit the spine. Move side to side and up and down to find areas of tension. 

Related: 5 myths people believe about lower back pain

Massaging the chest 

Helps with postural issues and relieves upper back pain

Using your hand or a tennis ball, place pressure on the pectorals, just below the collar bone. Using a circular motion, apply gentle pressure and move your hand around to massage different angles of the muscle. 

For a deeper massage, try moving your arm up and down and forward and back to stretch the muscles as you massage. 

Massaging the forearms 

Good for tired arms that work at a computer all day

Place your left hand on your right forearm, just below the elbow. Apply firm pressure, moving your thumb back for forth over the muscles. Move your left hand down your arm, closer to the wrist. You may also find that pointing your fingers to the floor and ceiling while applying pressure with your left hand will achieve the same goal without needing as much grip from your left hand.

Repeat on the left arm. 

Massaging the legs 

Good for relieving stiffness due to sitting for long periods of time 

Sitting on your chair with your legs bent, use the palms of your hands to place even pressure on each side of your thigh. Roll your hands down your leg toward your knee. Extend your leg out straight and roll your hands back toward your hip.

If you have a foam roller: Begin by lying on your side with a foam roller positioned under your hip. Use your hands to brace yourself as you slowly roll down from your hip to your knee while rotating your body toward the ground as you move down. Slowly roll back to the starting position.

Perform on both sides.

Massaging the feet 

Helps aching feet and tight hamstrings, and brings awareness to the back of the body

Using a tennis ball, place the ball on the floor under your foot. Roll the ball around your foot pausing on the tender areas. If you need more pressure, stand or use a firmer tool (golf ball or frozen water bottle).

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About the Author

Ruthie Ontiveros, LMT, is a licensed massage therapist on staff at Baylor Scott & White Health Clinic - Austin Downtown.

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