Self-Care for Tight & Tense Muscles

Many clients ask me what they can do to help manage or prevent muscles becoming tight and “knots” forming. The answer is plenty! After a massage treatment I always give aftercare advice to help clients get the most out of their treatment. There’s lots of things you can do at home even if you haven’t had a massage to help with tight or sore muscles.

Application of Heat/Cold

If you have a muscle injury and the area is red, inflamed or hot then applying something cold to the area will help bring down any swelling and provide some relief.

Don’t apply ice directly onto the skin but wrap it in a plastic bag and then put a tea towel round it, or wrap a bag of frozen peas in a tea towel instead (it works just as well). It is advised to see a doctor if you see no improvement after a few days or if you think the injury is severe, try to listen to your body.

For ongoing or chronic muscle tightness, the application of heat can be very beneficial.

Heat encourages muscle fibres to relax. Something as simple as a warm or hot bath is a pain free way to encourage your muscles to release. Alternatively a hot water bottle or bean bag that can be heated up can give a more targeted focus to areas of tension. The temperature should be comfortable.


Business woman is doing a neck stretch during break.Tight muscles can be encouraged to elongate and lengthen through stretches. If you have spent any time at the gym or just know a little bit about human anatomy you might know some simple stretches to help release the muscle which feels tight.

For example if you have tight trapezius muscles (those muscles at the tops of your shoulders) there’s some easy stretches to try. Sitting in a chair or comfortably on the floor take a deep breath and relax your shoulders as much as you can, then slowly let your head drop to one side with your ear moving towards the tops of your shoulders. Don’t force anything just let your head drop to where it is comfortable and hold for 8-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Try to do these stretches daily, particularly if you sit at a desk for large portions of the day. If you feel any pain then return to your starting position.

If you don’t know what stretches to try then ask your massage therapist for some suggestions.

Get Moving

Muscles often become tight and knotty because our lifestyles increasingly involve us spending hours at a time sat at desks. This means the muscles are not being activated and stretched regularly but are staying still and often in a contracted state for long periods of time.

If you can, try to get away from your desk every couple of hours even if it’s to make a hot drink. Try to go for a 15 minute walk at lunchtime. If you can’t get away from your desk try to do some stretches whilst working, such as the one mentioned above. You might feel self-conscious at first but you could try getting your whole team involved, they may thank you for it!

Exercise of any sort can help relieve tension by getting the muscles moving. Yoga in particular which largely focuses on stretching will be particularly useful but any exercise you enjoy can be beneficial if it isn’t too repetitive. Try to incorporate stretching in your warm up and warm down routine as well.


It may be stating the obvious but stress plays a factor emotionally as well as physically in our bodies. Stress manifests in physical ways in our bodies with tight muscles being one manifestation. Taking time out to do something relaxing or enjoyable when you can will help as will treating yourself to a massage when you can. It is sometimes seen as a luxury to take time out for ourselves but what’s more important than our own health and wellbeing?

So which of the above tips should you use? If you can incorporate them all, even in a small way, into your daily or weekly routine, your body and in particular your muscles will thank you for it.

Kirsty Manning is a qualified massage therapist practising holistic, deep tissue & pregnancy massage as well as teaching baby massage classes.

Appointments are available with Kirsty on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Please contact her directly on 0784 145 1156 or to book an appointment.

"Acupuncture during pregnancy was amazing… each trimester is a different… during the first I needed energy and help with the sickness, during the second I had a rash, during the third I was suffering from pelvic problems and insomnia and the extra weight... the personal, friendly and detailed individual approach was so beneficial to me. I feel like it paid a huge part in my well-being over the 9 months… thank you, Amelia.”


I had been suffering from a severe and unexplained break out of hives for over two weeks, when a friend recommended Stepping Stones to me. The hives had been so bad that they covered my face and body and I had been back and forth to the doctors with no luck; none of the medication they gave me worked and it was getting worse. When I came to Stepping Stones I had never had acupuncture before and didn't know what to expect. But the space was clean and relaxing and Amelia was very kind and welcoming and put me at ease straight away. After just one session at the multi-bed clinic the hives went down 50% by the following day, and then continued to consistently fade away over the next two days. I then had one more session, and the following day they were completely gone! I feel so happy and grateful to have found Stepping Stones and would definitely recommend it to anyone. Thanks so much Amelia.


I came to Stepping Stones after a long period of sleeplessness and general fatigue. After one session I already feel significantly energised and rejuvenated - my skin is glowing and I have slept better than I have in weeks! The clinic is serene and comfortable and the perfect place to enjoy treatment. I would highly recommend incorportating acupuncture at Stepping Stones into any plan to live a happy and healthy life

CA, London

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all for the treatment (and warm welcomes and cups of tea) you've given me over the last few months.

I think that as is the case with many symptoms unease, brought about due to imbalances in the body, the signs and symptoms appear gradually and over a period of time, and likewise do not just tend disappear over night. Having said that I feel that the course of acupuncture I've received has been of great benefit, and there are subtle improvements and changes in my general wellbeing which I can say the treatment, at the very least, played some part in bringing about.

M, London

I was first attracted to the Stepping Stones project when my husband found the card in the church. The very cleverly designed card was telling me of affordable acupuncture, with the added bonus of being very near to my home. When I first phoned for an appointment I felt encouraged by the friendly voice of Amelia.

On my first visit Stacey interviewed me most sympathetically, I immediately felt safe. Although the space is rather small they create a comfortable atmosphere, the room is warm and privacy is always maintained with the use of towels and screens.

I have had many treatments, they are always helpful, and it is so nice to be able to complain about pain knowing they will be understanding and can offer relief. Once the needles are in place, privacy and comfort is ensured, the wonderful warming lamp and the quiet allows for deep relaxation.

I am happy to recommend Stepping Stones to anyone, I have already informed several friends.

Pat, De Beauvoir

I’d thought about acupuncture before, but had never been able to afford it. My experience here has been very positive – it’s inclusive and relaxed. The treatments are enjoyable and, over time, the process has made a definite difference in my life. The diet and lifestyle advice, which goes with the acupuncture itself, would also have been unavailable elsewhere, and support with my nutrition in particular has been really good in helping me make changes beyond the treatments.

D, 28 London