By Anne-Marie Botek,†AgingCare.com Editor
Research has shown that massages can reduce pain and stiffness, relieve stress and lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression. Plus, you just feel great afterwards.
Even if you donít have the time or the money to hire a professional massage therapist, there are ways to tap into benefits of this healthful form of relaxation.
Tips for the time-crunched
Massage Therapy Hall of Fame Inductee, Michele Merhib describes four do-it-yourself massage techniques to help you quickly work out the kinks after a long day at the office.
What youíll need: a chair, a pencil, two tennis balls, and a tube sock
Back: Sitting for hours in traffic and uncomfortable office chairs, can do a number on your back. To soothe your seizing muscles, begin by taking the two tennis balls and placing them in the tube sock. Lie down on your back, with your feet on the floor, knees bent. Place the tube sock lengthwise, just above your sacrum (the triangular bone found at the base of the spine). Make sure that one tennis ball is on each side of your spine. Use your arms and legs to for support and balance as you roll the sock up and down your spine.
Neck: Got a crick in your neck from staring at the computer screen all day? Take your right hand and place it on your left shoulder with your thumb pressing against the base of your neck. While applying constant pressure, rub your thumb slowly back and forth along the base of your neck. Tilting your head towards the side youíre massaging will shorten your muscles and allow you to get a deeper, more intense massage. Once youíve knocked out the knots on one side of your neck, switch hands and repeat the process on the other side.
Foot: You can use a tennis ball to give your aching feet a rest and engage in a little bit of DIY reflexology. Grab your ball and place it on the floor in front of a chair. Sit down and place one foot on the ball. Slowly roll your foot backwards and forwards, putting as much pressure on the ball as is comfortable. Merhib says that you should feel a slight pulling sensation, but not pain. Next, work the ball from side-to-side, making sure to get every area of your foot, from toes to heel. Then, plant your heel on the ball and work it around in slow, small circles. Finally, cross one leg over the other, take the ball in your hand and gently roll it up and down your arch. Repeat with the other foot.
Hand: Is your hand seizing up on you after a long day of typing? You can use a pencil to loosen up the muscles and ligaments in your hand. Place the pencil, eraser-side down on the big muscle at the base of your thumb. Move the eraser around your palm using slow, small circles.
General tip: Massage your muscles using long, flowing strokes. Trace the path of the muscle until you reach the bone where it originates.