Keep stress in check
STRESS is a physical and psychological burden that often causes muscle tension and headaches, but you can keep it in check with the right relaxation techniques.
“A massage can work wonders, because massages stimulate the metabolism, release ‘happy’ hormones and strengthen our immune system,” says Ingo Froboese, a sports health professor.
A massage will help loosen muscles that have become painful to move from overstrain and will let your body and mind relax.
You do not even need to splash out on the expensive services of a professional: a few simple hand movements can turn a self-massage into an effective weapon against stress.
A face massage is one good selfmassage method, and it brings instant relaxation. You need to gently stroke your face with the palm of your hand, from your nose towards your cheekbones and your ears, and finally slide your fingers over prominent features in your face.
You should also stroke the skin around your mouth and eyes, and you can loosen your chin by applying slight pressure on it. Gentle taps will help you relax and also have the effect of tightening your skin.
Most common tensions tend to build up at the back of the neck and in the shoulder area. They are usually caused by sitting at a desk for too long or by making just one part of your body do all the work.
You can loosen the hard spots in your neck muscles with your own hands by gently massaging the back of the neck. You should start at the back of your head, at the top cervical vertebra, and slide your hands down to the thoracic vertebrae.
So-called trigger points, the places where tensions tend to build up the most, need special attention. Your fingertips should apply a bit of extra pressure on those muscles, but gentle circular movements will help dissolve the stiffness.
“Finally, slightly stretching the neck and nape muscles will contribute to the complete relaxation of the massaged muscles,” Froboese says at his office at the German Sports University in Cologne.
“Self-massage techniques should never cause any pain. They should always feel pleasant,” the fitness expert warns.
After the massage, you should take approximately 15 minutes to enjoy the relaxing result and feel the changes that the self-massage has brought about in your body. – dpa