Do It Yourself Massage 3
Hamstrings (the muscles in the backs of your thighs)
Anyone who runs — even if it’s just to catch the last commuter train — is subject to tight hamstrings. To loosen them, lie flat on your back with your right foot over your left knee. Grab your right leg just above the knee using both hands, with your fingers pressing into the back of your leg and your thumbs on top by your kneecap (as shown). Run your hands up your thigh, pressing with your fingers as you go. Repeat several times. Finally, press the fingers of either hand into the middle of your hamstring and slowly rub across the leg from side to side. (Use enough pressure so that your fingers don’t slide across your skin.) Move your fingers to work the entire muscle. Avoid putting pressure on the area directly behind the knee, where there are fragile tendons and ligaments. Then work the other leg.
Sports that require you to push off vertically (volleyball), horizontally (running), or laterally (racquetball or tennis) stress your lower legs. To work your calves: Bend your right leg and grab the bottom of your calf muscle with both hands. Apply pressure with your thumbs and slide your hands up your leg to the back of the knee. Repeat three times. Next, place your thumbs together at the top of your calf. Apply pressure and slowly pull your thumbs away from each other. Lower your hands about a half-inch and repeat, working down your calf until you reach your ankle. Repeat three times. For the shins, grip your ankle with your fingers behind your calf and thumbs together in the front. Stroke up the shin, then work back down in a series of small circles. Then work the other leg.
All this massage may stiffen your hands, so give them a rub, too. Begin by gently pulling each of your fingers with the thumb and fingers of your opposite hand. Gently stroke each finger as you go, applying firm but gentle pressure to any sore or tender areas. To work out your palm, loosely clasp your hands together by intertwining your fingers. Touch the thumb of your massaging hand to the area just below the opposite thumb (as shown) and apply direct pressure for several seconds. Keep moving your massaging thumb around in a spiral, applying short bursts of pressure, until your thumb ends up in the center of your palm. Finish by stroking your thumb up and down into your palm. Then work the other hand.
Sit with your left foot resting over the thigh of your right leg, so your leg form a figure 4. Hold your left ankle with one hand and slowly rotate the foot clockwise with the other hand in small to large circles. Reverse the motion counterclockwise. Next, grab your foot from the sides with both hands (as shown).
Begin to stroke lengthwise up and down your sole, firmly pressing into it with your thumbs. After you’ve finished with the long strokes, use your thumbs to make a series of small circles up and down the sole. Don’t forget to keep your fingers working along the arch. Gently separate and pull each toe sideways, then forward and back. Then work the other foot.
The neck is a spot where tension always seems to pool, even if your day consists of doing nothing but sitting at your desk and listening to your boss yammer. To massage the right side of your neck, press the fingers of your left hand into the top of the trapezius muscle, just below the base of your skull. Slowly drag your fingers down and over toward your right shoulder while simultaneously tilting your head to the left. Your left ear should approach your left shoulder as you move between your neck and your shoulder. Repeat this motion several times, then switch hands to work the left side of your neck.