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Self-Care With Self-Massage


Massage therapy boasts innumerable benefits for optimal health. Massage has been associated with decreased pain, improved sleep, as a treatment for anxiety and depression, and as an overall comfort measure (for both the sick and the well.)

Nurses can benefit from massage as an intervention to improve body pain and soreness, manage stress and improve mood.

There’s just one problem with massage. The cost.

But a promising trend in alternative therapy research might be the answer: self-massage.

What the Literature Says

  • In this randomized, controlled trial, 40 participants with osteoarthritis of the knee were divided into a self-massage group and a control group. The self-massage group learned techniques to massage the quadriceps, while the control group. Significant improvements in pain, stiffness and functionality (including ability to go up and down stairs, putting on socks and light domestic duties) were noted.
  • Another randomized, controlled trial, this study looked at individuals suffering from hand pain. The intervention group learned hand massage techniques to practice at home (and received one hand massage per week) for four weeks. That group reported decreased level of pain and demonstrated improved grip strength. Anxiety and mood scores were also measured, with improvements noted in that regard for the intervention group, as well.
  • This study, published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, evaluated the use of aromatherapy self-massage techniques on nurses who experienced pain during menstruation. The participants were divided into three groups; an aromatherapy self-massage group, a placebo grou, and a control group. The massage group learned techniques for abdominal massage with the use of essential oils and reported a notable difference in pain and anxiety related to menstrual pain. (The essential oil used was not divulged in the study abstract.)

Self-massage is an inexpensive and noninvasive intervention that can be used as a helpful tool for nurses, who typically endure extensive physical and mental strain.

Interested in Self-Massage as a Self-Care Measure?

Asking a Massage Therapist

Splurge on a massage every now and then. When you do, ask the therapist to show you simple techniques that you can practice at home.

Checking Out Self-Massage Tutorials on YouTube

But do so with caution. It’s difficult to ascertain the expertise of the teacher and the validity of their techniques. So do some research before jumping in.

Purchasing A Guide

“Chi Self-Massage, The Taoist Way of Rejuvenation” by Mantak Chia

“Self-Massage for Athletes” by Rich Poley


Do you have any experience with massage or self-massage? Let us know if it’s helped you or someone you know with pain or stress (or both!)

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I bought a golf ball muscle roller for a self massaging tool and it feels amazing! seriously check it out

    April 14, 2014
  2. Jennelyn Foronda #

    I finally found certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils I get online to manage and soothe my body aches and pains after my 12 hr shift. It does make my life easier and even safe for my baby too… what a life saver!

    February 20, 2014
  3. Kavana08 #

    Great tip…after a few 12 hour shifts I look forward to a massage of any of my extremities! It does make a difference…relieves so much stress

    February 17, 2014
  4. thank you very much… God bless you…. pain is everywhere after each shift… at times you forget about yourself notably when your focus are your client each shift… you tend to forget yourself & at times position yourself wrongly during care….

    February 16, 2014
    • Meaghan O'Keeffe, RN, BSN #

      Thank you, Noreen. I agree, it’s the little bits of self care that keep us going and help us take better care of ourselves, so we can take better care of our patients.

      February 19, 2014
  5. Love the sound of this. Can’t really justify going to a massage therapist every week, and my aching muscles could do with some attention daily. I’ll have to check out the youtube self-massage tutorials as suggested. Thanks for this tip! J x

    February 12, 2014
  6. I never thought of doing it myself. Excellent!

    February 10, 2014
    • Meaghan O'Keeffe, RN, BSN #

      I do hand massage in the evenings and I find it very relaxing and a great release of tension!

      February 11, 2014