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DIY Massage for sore muscles

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at www.LindaMelone.com.

Give yourself a massage

In a perfect world, chocolate would be calorie-free, high heels comfortable and we'd all have personal massage therapists to unkink our knots after a stressful day. But we live in the real world, so we limit indulgences, pretend we're comfortable wearing four-inch heels and treat ourselves to a massage when the budget allows. What’s a stressed-out, tight-muscle girl to do? Learn a DIY massage for sore muscles!

Woman massaging neck

DIY massage tips

The day of guiltless chocolate and comfy stilettos may not yet be here, but there's no need to go without a needed massage if you know a few simple tricks. Besides feeling great, a good massage gets rid of muscle spasms and can increase flexibility, so it's a justifiable self-indulgence. Try incorporating the following self-massage into your schedule three to seven days a week. Your body and mind will thank you for it!

1Warm up your muscles

Before working neck and shoulder muscles, use a hot or warm washcloth (microwaving it briefly also works) and drape it around your neck to relax muscles. Warming the muscles increases the effectiveness of the massage and prolongs the benefits.

2Use massage tools

To spare stress on fingers and hands, use tennis balls, golf balls or tools like the TheraCane, massage balls, firm rubber balls or foam rollers, available in many sporting goods stores.

3Forget "no pain, no gain"

Use caution and never massage to the point of pain. Also avoid massaging areas if you have varicose veins, fibromyalgia or other muscular or nervous system issues — see a licensed massage therapist.

4DIY head and neck massage

For neck muscles, use your hand to squeeze and release the muscle between your head and shoulder as you shrug or rotate the shoulder. Or use a single finger or Theracane to apply pressure directly to a sore spot and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Release and repeat until the muscle relaxes.

5DIY mid-back (between shoulder blades) massage

Place a tennis ball against the wall (freeze it first, if you prefer cold) and lean your back against it, resting the tennis ball between your shoulder blades. Or use two tennis balls in a sock, tie a knot in the middle and on the end to massage both sides of your back at once. Squat up and down by bending your knees, allowing the ball to roll around to hit different muscles.

6DIY lower-back, hips and glutes massage

Use a tennis ball for a small area and a foam roller for a larger area. Lie on the tennis ball on a forgiving surface such as a bed or couch (don't use a hard floor). For glutes and hips, roll on the ball until you find a tender spot and press against it, making sure to breathe, for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat until you feel the muscle relax.

7DIY foot massage

For a soothing after-work foot massage, put marbles in a zip-lock bag or use a tennis ball or golf ball and roll your feet over it. To soothe hot, tired feet, freeze a water bottle and roll your foot over it.

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