5 Ways to Get the Benefits of Massage Therapy (at Home)


You know those mini-quizzes on social media that ask if you could have one service for free for the rest of your life? Options usually include: a gourmet chef, live-in housecleaner or massage therapy daily?

I always pick the massage.

And then I think about the messes and how much I don’t love dishes and go back and forth between the other options. Of course, while it is a fun thing to think about, a live in maid, chef, or massage therapist is unfortunately not very realistic.

Even if money weren’t an issue, it would be impossible for most moms to sneak away for a daily massage. As mothers, we often have a lot of stress, and since massage therapy has many benefits, that’s a match made in relaxation heaven… Except for time and money.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage therapy has many benefits besides the obvious one of relaxation. It is now often suggested by doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors for various reasons.

Massage can range from light pressure to deep tissue (a lot of pressure) and there are many types of massage, including:

  • Swedish– A gentle massage that uses gentle, long strokes. Mainly focused on relaxation and tension relief.
  • Deep Tissue– Uses slower strokes and more pressure to reach deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
  • Sports– A style that often uses a combination of different techniques to help relieve sports strain or injury.
  • Trigger Point– A focused type massage often used for relief of tension from overuse or injury.

No matter the type, massage can help:

Relax Muscles

Massage provides external physical pressure to muscles and helps remove tension. This is the most common reason people get a massage.

Improve Flexibility & Reduce Injury

The pressure and stretching of the muscles can help improve their ability to stretch. Athletes often get a regular massage to help increase flexibility and reduce the chance of injury (and to help rehab from injury).

Increase Immunity

Though less well-known, massage may also increase immune function by stimulating lymph flow in the body. This helps promote a strong immune system.

Shorten Hospital Stays

A study found that women who received regular prenatal massage had shorter hospital stays when they delivered their babies. The reason is not completely clear, but researchers suspect that it is the affects of increased relaxation and blood flow.

Improve Sleep

A number of studies have shown that massage has a positive effect on sleep. This is likely because of its affect on delta waves, the ones most connected to deep sleep.

How to Get the Benefits of Massage At Home (On the Cheap)

Regular massage from a trained therapist is the most studied way to get the benefits. If this isn’t an option due to time or money, there are some much cheaper and almost as good ways to get some of the benefits!

Whisk yourself away to a massage in the comfort of your own living room with these at-home ideas.

1. Lacrosse Ball or Racquet Ball

By far the most cost effective at-home massage option. In fact, my chiropractor recommended this to help relieve sore muscles at home and provide some back relief during pregnancy.

All you need is a couple of Lacrosse Balls (like these) and a wall or floor. Place the ball between you and the wall/floor and apply pressure by leaning into the wall. I was shocked at how deep of a massage this provided and for only about $5, it can’t be beat! With a little patience, you can get a great deep-tissue massage this way. This video shows how:

If you’re feeling really fancy, they even now make special “trigger point massage balls” that are essentially the same thing. You can also use a tennis ball, baseball, or even golf ball (these provide really deep trigger point due to the small size).

TIP: I also keep a Lacrosse ball in my car and use between my back and the seat on long drives to avoid muscle tension.

2. Acupressure Massage Cane

massage-therapy-caneMy mom first discovered this, and I’ll admit that I joked her about having “a cane” until I tried it myself. This inexpensive s-shaped cane provides an amazing trigger point massage. It allows you to reach areas of your back you normally can’t reach on your own.

I keep this by my couch so when we are watching a movie I can use it for back massage. I’m still amazed at how this thing is able to reach the tightest spots on my back and provide direct pressure.

3. Massage Pillow

massage-pillowOne of my favorite Christmas gifts of all time: a shiatsu massage pillow. I had my doubts about this thing, but now I use it at least a couple of times a week. Of all of these at-home options, this one feels closest to a real massage, in my opinion.

This Shiatsu Pillow has infrared heat to help relax and loosen muscles and 4 rotating nodes that can move either direction. This thing was an absolute life saver when I was pregnant and up many nights with prodromal labor!

It is also half the price of one massage in most places! Several friends have come over and tried this pillow and ordered one from Amazon on their phone before even leaving my house. It is that good!

4. Rumble Roller or Foam Roller

Rumble Roller- great gift idea for men- deep tissue massage at homeA Rumble Roller is another great choice for at-home deep tissue work. The Rumble Roller is essentially a basic foam roller with spikes on it so it can reach deeper muscles. These are more work than a massage pillow but can be super-effective if you are willing to use it regularly. If you’re feeling creative, you can always make your own for about $10!

5. At Home Massage Course

If you have a willing partner, the best option for a true massage is to take an at-home couples massage class together. This one is my favorite because it is a romantic but PG-rated massage course that teaches couples how to give great massages. We really enjoyed this series and I’d definitely recommend it!

Bonus: G5 Percussor Massager

My chiropractor uses one of these almost every time I go in to get adjusted, and it’s amazing! A couple of years ago my husband decided to splurge and get me one for Christmas after hearing me rave about it for months. While it’s a bit more expensive than the other options listed above, if you use it instead of going for a regular massage you’ll save several hundred dollars in the first year alone!

What do you think? Noticed any benefits from massage therapy? Tried any of these?

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Reader Comments

  1. Thanks for posting. This is helpful. I will likely start with tennis balls. I rather doubt my local store will have Lacrosse balls, but I will see.

  2. I started with the tennis balls since I already had a couple left over from some school project or other. WOW! I could tell a difference almost immediately! All my muscle groups and some of my joints hurt/ache all the time. This suggestion is great.

  3. I love massage. I am a diabetic and I used to check my sugar levels before and after and I always had at least a 15 point drop. I also have had emotional releases. I think massage is the BEST!

  4. Hi Katie. I use a spoonk mat. It gives me the deepest relaxation I have ever had. I was sceptical at first. But now I use it anytime I feel stressed or sleepless.
    Thanks for your wonderful and trusted website.

  5. Hi Katie

    As a massage therapist myself, I offer “On The Ball” massage and classes for clients with back, hip and leg pain. I would like to share a few things with you that is shared with my clients.

    Therapy balls: A lot of times the tennis or lacrosse balls are to hard. I recommend that they go to the local Dollarama store and pick up a set of the soft rubbery air filled baby balls. They usually have happy faces on them. Your muscles are less likely to fight the pressure, therefore helping them relax a little faster/easier.

    If you already have tennis balls, try rolling them back and forth under your feet till they soften up a bit. This has a two fold benefit. Your feet will feel better, and the tennis balls will be softer for your other muscles

    When utilizing the balls on the back, place them in a long sock. This way you can control the placement a little easier when leaning against a wall.

    If you are using a foam roller, try to find a soft one. Rolling the muscles on either side of the IT Band is good, but try to avoid rolling directly on the IT Band. Especially if you are experiencing a lot of leg pain.

    Percussion massage is awesome. We use the Thumper Massager in the clinic.

    Many people find that when they utilize massage balls in between their treatment, the benefits of their visit last alot longer.

    Happy rolling!

  6. The video with the balls does not take into consideration a person’s lack of agility and mobility especially as we age. Getting down on the floor for someone in their 50’s to 70’s may not be possible and this is the age group when most chronic pain begins to set in. The other devices are good yet what is lacking in this post is the HEALING component of massage given by a trained massage practitioner. Nothing can truly heal a person unless it has an energy that matches the human energy. Manmade devices do not carry this type of energy. Compassionate human touch, a loving voice, healing vibrational music, the plant kingdom and solar system all contain an energy, a vibration that is healing, long lasting and matches ours. Not devices to save money. Most people have no idea what it takes to be a true healer. The work on our egos and larger spiritual Self can be brutal yet is so necessary to be totally PRESENT with YOU when you are suffering physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you want a quick fix from physical pain then go for a device. If you want to move forward and get unstuck in your life, unstuck from your emotions which will then release your physical and spiritual pain then get a massage and pay your practitioner what they are worth.

  7. I love that massages can help you to sleep better. Better sleep would help reduce a number of problems such as low energy and fatigue throughout the day. That way you won’t have to worry about always being so tired during the day, and you will probably be able to get more done throughout the day!

  8. I started going for massage twice a month. I went for lymphatic but now we do full body. It is completely life changing.

  9. As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I would also use CAUTION.
    Watch the pressure if you are on BLOOD THINNERS as you may bruise yourself easily.
    If you are PAIN MEDICATIONS (prescription or over the counter like ibuprofen), do not push yourself as your receptors will not be as active.
    NO deep pressure if you have VARICOSE VEINS (ie blood clots!)
    If you are PREGNANT….google “contraindications” as there are specific points you MUST AVOID, especially if you are in your FIRST TRIMESTER!!
    AVOID or use CAUTION if you have any open wounds, infections, or recent injuries.
    Drink lots of WATER afterwards to help flush the toxins released.
    These are great tools that I use myself and recommend to my clients as well!

    Any concerns, google “contraindications of massage” 🙂

  10. Don’t forget your trampoline work helps move the lymph around much like a massage and in my mind could totally fall in this category!

  11. Hi Katie. I wear panty hose and heels a lot. Sometimes I keep tennis balls at work to roll under my feet. Put a ball in each toe of clean wrecked panty hose. Hold the panty part so you can yank them back when they roll away. Doing the same at home when rolling the ball under your back, legs, etc, might help those with limited mobility to place and retrieve the ball. You won’t create a fall risk by having a loose ball rolling around. And at work, nobody’s going to steal a ball from inside panty hose!.

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