Do It Yourself Massage 1

Step One: Why Massage Works
Say goodbye to those aches and pains with these 10 feel-good moves. No equipment or cash required!

Whether it’s running, cycling, skating, hiking, or (you fill in the blank) that gets you sweaty, chances are you and every other active person on the planet have one thing in common: muscle pain, and plenty of it.

If you were a professional athlete, after a game you’d spend an hour packed in ice, take a spin in the whirlpool, do a series of stretches with your trainer and maybe stop by the team doctor’s office for a little medical magic. But if you’re just a regular exerciser, muscle pain is more likely to mean excavating the top drawer in your bathroom in search of that near-empty tube of Ben-Gay you bought last spring.

Well, you may not have access to all those professionals and their pharmaceuticals, but you can fight muscle soreness with one of their most potent weapons: massage. The pros know there’s more to massage than just relaxation. It can also improve range of motion, speed muscle recovery, prevent overuse injuries, even soften scar tissue from past injuries.

But who has the time (or the cash) for biweekly massages, other than all those pro athletes who get them for free anyway? Is your HMO going to pay for massage therapy because you got an ache in your butt muscles after your step class? Not likely.

No problem, says masseuse , author of “The Healing Art of Sports Massage.” “There’s no reason you can’t treat yourself to a full-body massage anytime you want,” she says. “All you need are your own two hands.” And if you’re active, self-massage will help reduce tension, draw out the lactic acid that causes muscle soreness, and dramatically cut your recovery time when you get sore.

The following self-massage program covers the muscles that are common trouble spots, especially for active women. To keep your hands from tiring, ¬†working on your finger endurance twice a day by squeezing a ball, a lump of clay, your kid’s ¬†— anything like that. Start by using your entire hand to squeeze, then work each finger and your thumb individually, until your hand gives out.

The techniques featured here should all be done sitting or lying on a mat on the floor. A seated position will help you relax more and allow you to reach certain parts of your body without straining your back. Also, keep a moist, hot towel nearby to warm your hands from time to time. (The heat will help loosen all your muscles.) Be sure to keep your finger strokes smooth, and spend a little extra time on any tight or tender areas you come across. Now, relax … and enjoy!

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