Massage is far more than a mere luxury. It may reduce the stress that contributes to heart disease and digestive disorders…relieve pain by manipulating pressure points that relax muscles…and raise levels of mood-boosting brain chemicals.

Good news: You can take your health into your own hands—literally—with simple self-massage techniques.

What to do: Always apply firm but comfortable pressure, repeating each sequence of motions for three to five minutes. Unless noted, techniques can be done while sitting or lying down. Use scented lotion or oil if desired—lavender and rose are calming…peppermint and rosemary are stimulating.


  • Lying on your back, place the fingertips of both hands in the center of your forehead…stroke outward toward the temples…make 10 small slow circles over the temples. Move fingertips to the cheeks, where the jaw hinges…make 10 small slow circles there.
  • Place the pads of your thumbs just below each upper eye ridge (near the brow), where the ridge meets the bridge of the nose, and press up toward your forehead for 10 seconds. In small increments, move thumbs along the eye ridges toward the outer edges of eyes, pressing for several seconds at each stopping point.

    Caution: Always press upward on the bony ridge, not into the eye socket.

  • With fingertips, make small circles all over the scalp for 30 seconds as if washing hair. Then place fingertips at the back of the neck and make 10 small slow circles at the base of the skull.


  • Lying on your back, place one hand flat on your abdomen (over or under your clothing) just above your navel. Pressing gently but firmly, slowly move your hand clockwise to circle the navel.


  • Sitting, reach your left hand over your right shoulder until it touches above the shoulder blade. With fingertips, firmly knead muscles, focusing on any sore spots. Repeat on other side.
  • Sitting, place fingertips of both hands on the back of the neck at the base of the skull. Pressing firmly, move fingers up and down along the sides of the vertebrae. To protect major blood vessels, do not massage front or sides of the neck.


  • Sitting, place your left ankle on your right knee. Grasp the left foot with your right hand and slowly rotate the foot at the ankle three times in each direction. Then use your fingers to gently rotate toes, one at a time, three times in each direction. Repeat on the other side.
  • Sitting, place your left ankle on your right knee and cradle the left foot in both hands. With thumbs, make five small slow circles—first on the instep…then the ball of the foot…heel…and pad of each toe. Repeat on your other foot.

    Bonus: Performing foot massage for 10 minutes nightly may promote health overall. Theory of reflexology: “Reflex points” on the feet are linked to various body systems and organs, which benefit from tactile stimulation.