According to Rob DeStefano, sports chiropractor and co-author of Muscle Medicine, a combination of stretching and massage helps loosen sore muscles and promotes blood flow, which speeds healing. Try these methods for relieving aches in your shoulders, knees and ankles.
Shoulders: Targets the front, top or middle, and the back zones of the supraspinatus, a ridgelike muscle between the neck and the shoulder.
- Starting out: Sit on a chair or stability ball with your feet shoulder-width apart. Straighten and raise your arm straight in front, with the palm facing up. The head is neutral and the face forward. Reach the opposite hand across the chest and place your fingertips on the muscle with angled pressure.
- How to do it: Angle the pressure in and toward the neck with your fingers. Once contact is made, bring the arm down, turn the palm around, and, reaching behind you, place the back of the hand over the opposite buttock. Tilt your head away from the treatment side, bringing the ear to the shoulder. Keep the motion slow and controlled. Do two to three passes in each zone, starting each zone closer to the neck and working out toward the shoulder.
- Troubleshooting: The muscle should be relaxed when the pressure is applied. Don't press too hard as it can irritate the muscle. Avoid letting the skin slide under the fingers by using constant, angled pressure.
Knee: Targets the iliotibial band, the group of tough fibers that runs from hip to shin.
- Starting out: Sit with both feet on the floor and the treatment leg bent to forty-five degrees. Using both hands, apply pressure down onto the IT band on the outside of the knee and angle the pressure up toward the body, or down toward the knee. Start working about three inches up from the knee, and at three-inch intervals from there.
- How to do it: Maintaining the angled pressure, extend your leg.
- Troubleshooting: This self-treatment has to be slow with not too much pressure, as the tendon can become irritated. Gentle pressure should help relieve tightness, which can occur between the tendon and the underlying muscles.
Ankle Targets the muscle on the front of the ankle.
- Starting out: Sit with one leg straight and the treatment leg bent with the heel on the floor and the toes pulled up and back. Using both hands, place your thumbs over the muscle with angled pressure up toward the knee.
- How to do it: Press in and pull up slightly, as though trying to prevent someone from sliding a piece of cloth from under your fingers. Under the angled pressure, point your toe and extend the ankle. Do two to three passes, releasing and moving the hand, from the knee toward the foot.
- Troubleshooting: Don't press too hard as this can irritate the muscles. Avoid letting your skin slide under the fingers by using angled pressure.