Massaging Your Lower Body
By lower body, we mean hips, legs, and feet. The hips attach to the legs and provide support for them; the thigh bones, shinbones, and ultimately the feet carry the weight of the body. The feet support and balance the body when you walk or stand. It is obvious that these areas get quite a workout and can carry as much tension as your upper body.
Standing with both hands on your hips, circle in a gliding effleurage movement, warming up the area. With your fingertips on both hips make small deep circles along the hips and buttocks. Cover the entire area and repeat. Now, using your fingers and thumbs lift, pinch, and roll over your hips and buttocks, paying attention to any painful or tight areas. Focus on those areas with your finger pads, pressing and circling each point, then holding for a count of three. Move to each spot at least twice. After this movement, knead again with your fingers and thumbs over the entire hip and buttock area. To finish, circle and glide over the hips and buttocks, covering the area completely.
Upper Leg: Your Thigh
Sit now as you glide both your hands along one thigh from your hip to your knee and back up again in long circular motions over the front, sides, and back. Next, grasp the flesh and knead up and down your entire thigh, from hip to knee, in an imaginary line along the front, back, and sides. Again, feel for areas of sensitivity, and work deeper in tight areas while using less pressure in areas that are too painful. Repeat on your other thigh.
Use caution in the upper thigh and groin area, where the front part of the leg touches the torso. This area is a major pathway for veins and arteries. Too much pressure can cut off circulation. Behind the knee is another area sensitive to pressure, so massage there lightly as well.
With one hand on the outer thigh of each leg, follow the bones down the sides using circular pressure strokes. When you reach the outer edge of your knees circle around the tops of the kneecaps and work up your inner thighs. At the top of your thighs, circle and press down the center of your thighs to your knees again. Circle along the tops of your knees to the outside of your thighs; then circle and press up the bones to your hips, where you press and hold for a count of three. Repeat this pattern three times.
Massaging one leg at a time, move your hand to the back of your thigh (use the hand on the same side as the thigh you are working). Working from just under your buttock, circle and press down the back of your thigh to the soft tissue behind your knee. Gently stroke the area behind your knee, but do not circle or press. Work back up your thigh, continuing to circle and press imaginary vertical lines from your buttock to the back of your knee, up and down the back of your thigh, until you reach the inner side of your thigh.
Using your other hand, press and knead the same thigh in small horizontal lines back and forth across the inner side of your thigh, up to the outer side of your buttock. Then glide over the entire thigh front to back, using deep pressure for two complete gliding strokes. Begin to change the pressure on the third stroke and glide lightly over your upper thigh a few more times for closure. Repeat on the other thigh.
Lower Leg: Your Calf and Shin
To work your calf, either sit down and cross your leg over the opposite thigh, or stand and rest your foot on a stool. Using both hands glide over your calf first. Then use both hands to knead the back of your calf from the ankle to the knee as shown in FIGURE 9-4.
Kneading stroke up the calf.
As you focus on the center of the calf you may actually feel the two separate parts of the muscle that lay directly under the skin. Use your fingers to press and knead along the centerline in the back of your calf.
Using the pads of your fingers, press and circle down the front of your leg on each side of your shinbone. When you reach the ankle glide back to the top of your shin and repeat the circles.
Shin splints, which is another name for inflammation of the tendons and muscles attached to the bone in the front of the lower leg, can cause pain. The tendons and muscles attached to this bone become inflamed often as a result of repetitive motion. Overexercising, running, walking up and down hills, or treadmill work may all produce this condition.
Using both hands, press and glide deeply from your ankle up to your knee using your fingers. Press deeply over the entire front and sides of your lower leg, avoiding any pressure on the bone. Lastly, with both hands use your fingers to press deeply with horizontal lines from the ankle to the knee.
Switch legs and work the same routine on your other leg, starting with the gliding stroke over your calf, and kneading the back of your calf from your ankle to your knee.
You will massage the tops, sides, and bottoms of both your feet. Work one foot at a time in a sitting position with your foot crossed over your other leg. Start by pressing and kneading the sole of your foot with a wringing technique, using both hands. Use your thumbs to apply circular friction on the sole, as shown in FIGURE 9-5.
Circular friction of the sole.
With one hand, press your fingers along the sole of your foot in imaginary lines from your heel to your toes. Press your fingers in, slowly moving up your foot. The arch of your foot may be sensitive so apply less pressure there.
Now, using both hands again, circle with your fingers around your ankle, pressing gently and firmly. Work around your entire ankle to the very back of your heel, which is a very sensitive region known as the Achilles heel; apply firm but gentle pressure there. Smooth the ankle area with circular gliding strokes that evolve into light feathering with just the tips of your fingers touching your ankle.
Next, grasp all your toes with one hand and gently squeeze them and release, applying slight pressure with the heel of your palm. As you stroke along each toe from the bottom to the tip of the nail, one toe at a time, pay attention to the pressure—it should be firm yet gentle. Work the top and bottom of each toe. Grasp all your toes again and gently squeeze. Lastly, stroke gently over the top and bottom of your foot in soft, feathering strokes. Move to your other foot and repeat, starting with pressing and kneading the sole.