Monday, October 4, 2010

Poor Man's Warrior Massage

There is a great way to get around having to pay for a massage: Do it yourself for yourself!  Sure, it’s not exactly the same; it may not even feel as good. But, have no doubt, it is still good for you and you have the power to heal yourself.

Ancient Mongolian warriors recognized the importance of self-massage.  They developed a form of deep tissue self-massage called Chua Ka that they applied to themselves before riding off into battle. Their belief was that life experiences create networks of muscular tension (pain) that are remembered in the body as fears.  In other words, they believed that life itself is so challenging that the body cannot help but store stresses, injuries and the fears learned from those injuries within muscle tissue. Since you need to be pretty fearless to ride off into battle or fight, the idea was to release those deeply seeded fears by deeply massaging them away.  

The practice of Chua Ka recognizes that releasing physical tension in the body helps to reduce mental tension as well.  Back then, warriors would use sticks and stones to slowly burrow deep into the body.   This action was also thought to bring the body and mind into a state of heightened sensitivity and awareness, other qualities that can come in pretty handy when heading off to war.

Even if you do not believe that the Mongolians were on to something and that there is truth to the idea that massage can help to prepare you for challenge, there is still plenty to say for modern man's take on massage and self-massage.  Nowadays, the reasons for getting a massage are numerous: it’s increasingly observed to create long-term health benefits, promote relaxation, reduce stress, improve circulation and thereby promote detoxification of the body, and best of all, it’s more easily affordable and accessible, especially if you do it for yourself (or live in California.)

Sticks and stones are still perfect tools, but our generation of warriors has been gifted with even more options.  Little do many people realize it, but there are a few standard household items that may hold the key to your muscle and mental relief: 
  • Do you suffer from pain or knots in your back?  Lie on the floor and put a tennis ball along the affected area of your spine. Use the weight of your body to add or decrease pressure on your back.  Move slowly and you will begin to feel relief within minutes.  Read more about the power of the tennis ball in this article.
  • Does your forearm ache from typing too much? Use a drum stick or even the ends of a rolling pin to apply acute pressure to the area that is causing you pain or discomfort.
  • Speaking of rolling pins, here is an informative piece from Elephant Journal on how rolling your full body over a foam pillow can help bring relief to sore and over-used muscles.  
  • It would be a serious oversight to write about self-massage and not mention yoga.  Yoga is one of the best forms of self-massage at hand. (More on this everywhere else on this blog.)
Mongolian warriors recognized that the body and mind were intimately connected and that taking care of the body was critical not just for mental health but also for one's very survival.  Today’s warriors recognize that self-massage is a form of taking care of the body so that other areas of one’s life can flourish.


  1. yay for tennis ball massage! we used to do a full yoga class dedicated to the tennis ball for myofascial release...totally rocks! Thanks for sharing the tips and the Mongolian history, Rachel!

  2. That's a great technique of massage and everybody can do it easily. :) Thanks foe sharing Visiting massage London

  3. It's a very interesting technique maybe our mobile massage london therapists can bring tennis balls with them for massage now!

  4. It's a very interesting technique maybe our mobile massage london therapists can bring tennis balls with them for massage now!