It seems like every medical study that’s released these days cites stress as a contributing factor for one disease or another, while recent findings by the American Psychological Association revealed that substantially more women than men are reporting an increase in stress-related symptoms—from headaches and overeating to insomnia and chest pains—due to current economic woes. As a result, it’s never been more important to take the time to de-stress at home—and to indulge in a relaxing at-home massage.
“We often forget to take the time to relax at home because there are so many things to be done,” says Regine Berthelot, head esthetician at the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. “But if you are able to de-stress regularly and relax muscles in between massage appointments, your body will not tense up as much and you won’t have as many knots to work out.” To help keep muscles loose, we tested out these home massage tools designed to target a variety of key areas.
Available in candy red, neon green, bright blue, and basic black, this hourglass-shaped pillow boasts four rotating nodes that deliver a kneading, shiatsu-like massage. Though it’s designed for the lumbar region—and includes a strap to secure it to any size desk chair—we’ve found the massager works just as well on the upper back (especially right between the shoulder blades), and calves, and while lying down. It even shuts off auto-matically after 20 minutes—in case you fall asleep. $59.95, www.brookstone.com
Ideal for your desk chair or car seat, this cushy massager targets five different zones—upper and lower back, lumbar, and upper and lower thigh—to offer all-over relief. Isolate different muscle groups or use one of the pre-set sequences; there’s also soothing heat along the lumbar section for extra muscle-melting. The seat comes with a remote con-trol and a 12-volt adapter for use in the car. $99.95, www.brookstone.com
Created by licensed massage therapist Stephanie Whittier, t spheres are a deceptively simple tool: each pouch contains two perfectly weighted organic rubber balls—either in a standard, playing-jacks size or slightly smaller—that have been infused with aro-matherapeutic essential oils. But in fact, the concept was born of 15 years of research and development, and is based on Whittier’s extensive study of the relationship be-tween movement and pain management. Users are encouraged to place the balls any-where that might be tight—on temples, along the spine, under the feet or any place in between—and roll them back and forth, creating a deep massage. The rose-geranium or peppermint-grapefruit scents are automatically released for added benefit, and a pocket spray is included to refresh the essential oils. Great for travel and the office, the spheres have even been spotted in a hospital delivery room or two. www.tspheres.com
Thumper MiniPro 2
“When I think about clients who aren’t able to come in for massages that often, but who need pain and tension relief between sessions, this is the tool I recommend,” says Michele Peacox, a massage therapist, esthetician, and founder of Massage-Tools.com, an online resource for massage-related tools and tips. Perfect for use anywhere on the body, the long-handled Thumper massager offers two settings for heavy-duty vibrations that help work out kinks and increase circulation. “It gives a great deep-tissue knead,” says Peacox, adding that it’s also “a machine that will last you a long time.” $189 (plus free shipping); www.massage-tools.com