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With midterms coming up, it’s not unusual to develop muscle aches while studying hunched over all night. As beneficial as professional massages are to the body and the mind, they can be costly. And for college students on budgets and with busy schedules, not everyone can enjoy that luxury. Still, no one should be deprived of a little relaxation. Here are a few easy self-massages that will ease all the tension away!

1. Neck/Shoulder Massage
Most of the time we don’t even realize we’ve tensed up our shoulders. Begin this massage by pulling your shoulders up to your ears, then relaxing them all the way down. Tuck your chin so that you can feel your neck stretch. Using three fingers, find the area where your neck and shoulder muscles meet then apply pressure until you feel your muscles relax. It’s useful afterwards to roll your shoulders back and forth, as well as move your neck in slow circular motions. Repeat until you feel at ease!

2. Scalp Massage (for headache relief)

First, if you are wearing your hair in a tight ponytail or bun, it would help to either loosen the hair tie or let your hair down. Locate your occipital ridge, which is where the base of your skull meets your neck. The occipital ridge is where a lot of muscles attach, and thus where the tension is stored. Massaging this ridge can lead to quick headache relief. Place your fingers on the top of your head so that your thumbs can easily massage the occipital ridge.

3. Hand Massage

Handwriting notes all day is an easy way to give yourself a hand cramp. To relieve this, start off by shaking out your hands and stretching your fingers. Next, use one of your hands to clasp the wrist of the other hand, and pull down with the elbow of that hand that is being clasped—this will work to “reset” the hand. Repeat on the other side. If your hand is still tense, feel for the pressure point in the fleshy part of your hand between the index finger and thumb. Hold firmly, breathe deeply, and then release.

4. Face Massage

Using both hands, place both sets of index and middle fingers on the center of your forehead. In small circular motions, move across the forehead to the temples (It’s also beneficial to massage across the brow bone, specifically at the spot where your eyebrow begins, since this spot holds a lot of tension when you furrow your brow.) After this, continue with circulation motions, move to your jaw muscles, and then up by the sides of your nose and back to your forehead.

5. Menstrual Cramp Relief

There are a variety of pressure points in the body that can be used to relieve period pains, but let’s focus on the ones in the feet. The Bigger Rushing Point is located between the big and second toe. Place your index finger between the two bones and apply pressure in the direction of the second toe for around a minute. The Grandfather Grandson Point, which can be found if you press your thumbs into the area where the big toe bone meets the rest of the foot, is another pressure point. Slide your thumbs along the bone in the direction of your ankle to feel the relief.

6. Lower Back Massage

This last massage tip requires a tool: a tennis ball. Lay face-up on the floor, using your elbows to prop you up. Place the tennis ball under you on the lower side of your back, along the muscles by the spine (but do NOT place directly on spine!) Gently move your body towards your heels, so you can feel the tennis ball roll on the muscles. Continue this for around a minute and a half, gradually applying more pressure.

Gretchen is a fourth year UC Davis student double majoring in political science and cinema & digital media. As an intersectional feminist, she finds interest in issues of social justice and equality. She also finds interest in dogs, Leonardo DiCaprio movies, and early 2000s music.
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