We have learned to associate our breasts with sex, breastfeeding, and cancer checks. Aside from those things, we largely ignore them or bind them up in bras and forget about them. But in order to care for ourselves well and maintain an overall state of balance, we must come back to viewing our bodies and ourselves as a whole.
One of the best and most effective ways of doing this is through breast massage. Our breast tissue, along with it’s underlying musculature, needs attention, intention, movement, and flow.
A few of the benefits of breast massage:
Lymphatic Flow and Drainage
Restrictive clothing (think bras), postural habits (shoulder hunching, computer work, tension in the neck and shoulders, breastfeeding, previous illness or surgery, etc), deeply held emotions that cause us to bring our shoulders down and inward towards our hearts, or years of attempting to “hide” our breasts, for various reasons, can result in reduced lymph flow. The lymph system (unlike the vascular system, which has a pump, the heart) relies on movement and manual drainage (massage).
Because everything in the body and mind is connected, anything happening in one area of the body, is reflected in the whole. If there is an accumulation of fluid in the breast, it can cause pain and swelling. Helping to relieve this through massage can have wider effects on the body, than just in the area of the chest and breasts.
Improves Range of Motion
When the breasts and underlying muscles are attended to, it helps to open up the shoulders and chest, and restores range, that can be compromised by stress and shoulder hunching, among other things.
Increases the Flow of the Breath
The breath is energy and life. The importance of the breath and breathwork is a whole other article, but by increasing lymphatic drainage, blood flow, and helping the muscles to release, along with moving energetic blocks and emotions that may have become lodged in this area, we are able to open up our access to deeper and fuller breath.
*Note: just go for it. Many times we get caught up in following a specific plan or outline on how to do something ”right”. The important thing with breast massage is to do it. Just start.
Here are a few tips to get started; however, none of this is a hard and fast rule. Remember, there are no rules. Breast massage is a practice and an ancient art. So, experiment. Please.
Begin at your neck. Turn your head first to the right and using the full pads of your fingers or the flats of your hands, slowly and gently stroke downwards toward your collarbones. Then, turn your head in the other direction and repeat on the other side. Then, hooking your fingers on the top of both collarbones, gently “pump” your fingers along the full length of the collarbones.
Next move to your armpits. Beginning with your left armpit, massage in a circular, clockwise direction moving towards your breast and heart as you go.
With your arm still raised above your head, place your 4 fingers in your armpit, with your thumb pointed towards your shoulder. Taking the muscle there in the palm of your hand, begin to gently squeeze or pump your hand, starting at the top of this muscle and again moving towards your breast.
Begin at the outer edge of the breast and being to massage the breast, itself, in a circular and clock-wise direction, starting under the armpit, circling down around the outer edge of the breast, make your way all around the outer edge, moving in a spiral towards the nipple. When you get to the nipple, you can take the nipple between your fingers and gently pull outwards. Repeat this several times. Now take the full breast in your hands and move it up and down. Get creative. Use your thumbs to massage in smaller areas. Use the fingers and thumb together to massage and lift. Don’t forget to lift the breast and work underneath (in the area where the bottom of your bra would rest).
Place the fingers of both hands along your sternum. The palms of your hands will be resting on your breasts. Using the pads of your fingers massage along the sternum in small circles, using a pumping motion, or do some tapping. Then in short strokes, from the sternum towards the breast, massage in between the ribs. End the massage by resting your hands on your chest, over your heart.
Breast massage is not yet another thing that we need to add to our to-do list. We do not need to follow a strict method of performing it. When we believe that we need to do it a very particular way, we are likely to not do it, at all. Please, just start. Begins to incorporate it into your life in a very natural way. At times, you may choose to make it more “special”, by setting aside time to dedicate to the massage. Lighting a candle, putting on music, choosing just the right oils. But incorporate it in your day, in the things that you are already doing. When you wake up in the morning, spend 3-5 minutes doing it before you get out of bed. Do it in the shower (soap and water have great glide). Take a little extra time and attention to do it when your putting on body oil or lotion. Or how about when you take your bra off at night (if you wear one). Begin to think of all the times and the ways that you can include this important practice into your life and then, just do it.
This article was written by Amber LaBancz.