How to be your own masseuse

Relieving tension with foam rolling

There are alternatives to relaxing your muscles that don`t break your bank account.
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Who doesn’t love a good massage? The candles, the sensual lighting and the zen waterfall music that every single spa seems to play — it’s relaxing just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, us university students have a slim budget and, let’s face it, can’t afford to hit up a spa for a weekly massage session.

The technique that massage therapists use when they work out the kinks in your neck and shoulder blades is called myofascial release, which is the manipulation of soft tissue to relieve muscle tension. Foam rolling, which is a type of self-myofascial release, is basically the poor man’s massage — or maybe in this case, we’ll call it the “student price massage.”

Foam rolling has become a common recovery tool for athletes, from those in the recreational to the elite levels; however, the practice has benefits even for those who don’t hit the gym on a regular basis. Believe it or not (but I think you’ll be inclined to believe it), even just sitting for hours on end in Stauffer can cause muscular knots and build tension in muscle groups that you’re not even activating while seated.

Whether you’re experiencing muscle soreness from the gym or from the books, foam rolling is an easy, inexpensive and individual-oriented way to increase blood flow to your muscles and regain, or even increase, your range of mobility. 

The best part is that the ARC has numerous foam rollers available for any student to sign out at the equipment desk on the lowest floor, so you don’t even have to buy one. 

If you’re a foam-rolling newbie, here are some tips and tricks to get your muscles loosened and relaxed. 

Calves

When we wear shoes that are possibly more fashionable than they are practical, or  work out in runners that are perhaps past their due date, it’s our calves that take the beating. To roll them, start by sitting on the floor with your legs outstretched. Place one leg on the roller and the other leg overtop. Roll slowly from just below the knee to just above the ankle. Be careful to never roll over your joints.

Quads

For most of us, after a hard day, our quads are the place we feel it the most. To roll them out, get into a plank position and place the roller below you, just above the knees. Apply pressure and roll towards the hips. When you become accustomed to this, you can play around with bending your knees to vary the pressure levels.

Upper back

The upper back is another great area to roll, especially if you’ve been punishing your posture with extended library slouching. To roll your thoracic spine, lie back on your roller, with it positioned just below your shoulder blades. Support your head with your hands and roll towards your shoulders, stopping before any pressure is put on your neck.

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