Forget Me Knot

By Meghan Rabbitt

Whether you overdid it at the gym or lugged a much-too-heavy bag, your body will let you know when you’ve pushed it too far. But if a twice-monthly therapeutic massage doesn’t fit into your budget, fear not: You can do a lot on your own to get the kinks out, tame tension, and help yourself relax, says Brian Halterman, a massage therapist in Boulder, Colorado, who recommends the following self-massage techniques.

For your head and face: Place your fingers and thumbs with cupped hands on the crown of your head and begin gentle circular movements around your scalp. Then lightly “scrub” your head—like you’re shampooing your hair—with your fingers. “This triggers the mind to go into relaxation mode,” says Halterman. For a deeper release, massage your temples with your fingertips, holding pressure on tender spots for 15 seconds while breathing deeply.

For your neck: Place your fingers on the back of your neck on either side of your spine. Massage from the bottom of your neck to the base of your skull with gentle circular motions. If you find a sore spot, keep pressure on it for 15 seconds.

For your shoulders and upper back: Reach one arm across your body and, with your opposite hand, begin kneading the muscle that runs from your neck toward your shoulder. Hold pressure on your most sensitive points for 15 seconds while breathing deeply; then switch sides. Another great release: Place a tennis ball against a wall and lean into it so the ball travels around your upper and mid-back.

For your lower back: Stand up and place your thumbs on the muscles on either side of your lower spine (but not on your spine) and move them in circular motions up your back, as high as you can reach. “I find this exercise especially helpful for people who sit a lot,” says Halterman.