Massage maneuvers to use for yourself, friends

Survive school muscle relaxant free with just moves, towel, affection

SAM SCHMITKE, Evergreen reporter

Now that sylly week is over, the real work begins. As your workload increases, you’ll need to step up your relaxation regimen too. Local massage therapists know how to get it done.

Aletha Lassiter, massage therapist and owner of Yogatopia at 246 E Main St., talked about the most common problems students face with stress.

“People tend to not put self-care as a priority,” Lassiter said. “They always think that they have other things to do and it’s a waste of time, [or] that their video-game time and binge watching [their] favorite TV shows are relaxing when they aren’t.”

There are many different massage methods to reduce stress —Swedish massage, Thai massage, cupping and warm bamboo.

“The Swedish massage is a hands-on technique,” Lassiter said. “Use long, gliding, kneading strokes and karate-chop hands. You want to think of a cat kneading at yarn.”

Thai massage is a fully-clothed experience, unlike the Swedish massage where you are partially or fully disrobed. On a mat or the floor, move your body to stretch and feel compression.

Lassiter said that massage shouldn’t only be a reward for studying, but should be part of a routine. It works on preventing stress and injury instead of recovering from it.

If you want to massage yourself when you’re studying, try to close your eyes, she said. Get your hands warm by rubbing them together and cup them over your eyes like you’re playing peek-a-boo.

Lassiter said rubbing your temples or even rubbing your jaw will help too. You can also rub your hands and palms between note taking.

Lassiter demonstrated a technique that involved a towel to reduce tension in your trapezius shoulder muscle. Twist the towel until it’s rope-like and hold it across your back from your left hip to right shoulder, as if drying yourself off. As you anchor one end at your hip, pull down on your trap.

“People hold a lot of stress and tension in the shoulders, especially when carrying a backpack,” she said.

If you want to relax a friend, give them a hug when they are stressed, something Lassiter said immediately calms people down. You can also squeeze their hand or play with their hair if they give you the okay.

Massage helps with stress because it is another way to manipulate the nervous system, but Lassiter said massage therapists don’t only treat stress by compressing muscles. Deep tissue massages help with injury recovery, but tension can also come from emotional stressors. Attention and affection can be part of the treatment.

“Unconditional positive regard is what we call it,” she said. “Think of massage therapists and hairdressers as your street counselors.”

To treat your whole self, Lassiter recommended calming tactics.

For a mental break and to calm your body, you can also do a simple “legs up the wall” pose, Lassiter said. You lay with your legs up on a wall for 15-20 minutes.

“It helps lower your heart rate and reduces stress,” she said. “It also relieves foot, ankle, and leg fatigue for walking up all those hills on campus.”

If massage isn’t your thing, try out some aromatherapy. Lassiter said to try out new things. If you don’t like a certain massage try another. If you don’t like a certain smell try a different one. Everyone has their own groove.

“Aromatherapy is awesome. Some people are sensitive to fragrance, so I don’t recommend it if you are sensitive,” she said. “Whatever you smell goes directly to your brain and becomes a memory immediately — just like how you smell apple pie and think, ‘Grandma.’ ”

Lavender is the most common smell in aromatherapy. Some people think it smells like soap, so using smells of the forest, trees or pine help too. Lassiter said it will remind you of walks in the woods.

You can put these scents in a bath, in coconut oil for a massage or even in unscented lotion.

Lassiter also recommends a treatment she gets called reiki. Reiki is the connection of one person’s energy to another, shesaid. In reiki, you’re supposed to flow your good mojo onto the other person.

“It can be as intimate as a mom’s kiss on her child’s boo-boo [or] positive words of encouragement,” Lassiter said.

Whether you are stressed, bored or just want a “me” day, it’s important to make relaxation a part of your lifestyle.