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Sally Gunnell's fit for life: Different Strokes; MASSAGE CAN HEAL YOUR ACHES AND PAINS...SALLY SHOWS YOU HOW.

I'm a bit of a massage addict. When I trained competitively as an athlete I'd regularly have a sports massage to help prevent injury and keep me supple and flexible. The strokes of sports massage are based on Swedish massage and pressure point techniques which reach deeply into the muscles - and although they are a must for sportsmen, anyone who exercises regularly, even beginners, can benefit from them.

After a long training session or a gruelling work-out, there's nothing better than lying back and having your limbs stroked. I consider it my reward for giving my all!

Like anyone who exercises, I suffer from sore muscles from time to time caused by a build-up of lactic acid. Not only does massage soothe and relax sore and aching muscles, it helps cut down the body's recovery time after exercise. A post-workout massage brings the pulse rate back to normal faster and quickly restores muscle efficiency so you feel in top form in minimum time.

Gentler massage strokes are also useful after everyday exercise and activities. If you've played a gruelling game of tennis or squash, worked out hard or gone for a long walk or bike ride, then follow my self-massage guide opposite to help you to loosen up any stiffness and soothe your weary limbs. These are also excellent for general relaxation or when you simply feel a bit tired and weary. Practise massaging your partner, too. Just a few minutes' stroking and kneading will help banish any build-up of tension and give a real boost to your well-being.

After sport strokes

Three main movements are used in sports massage - deep stroking, which encourages blood to circulate; compressions to help separate muscle fibres; and broad, cross-fibre strokes to break up adhesions which cause stiffness. Only apply as much pressure as is comfortable.

Loosen up your limbs

If you've been particularly energetic or you're simply stiff and sore from sitting or standing too much, this leg and foot massage brings instant relief. The strokes are designed to boost the blood circulation while stimulating the lymphatic system, which gets rid of waste products. As a bonus, these strokes are good for lessening the appearance of cellulite, too! Perform the whole sequence on one leg, then repeat on the other leg.

1 With your hands either side of one leg, stroke from the ankle to the top of the thigh.

2 Knead the whole thigh, rhythmically squeezing the flesh. Then, with one hand following the other, smoothly stroke up the thigh from the knee.

3 and 4 Loosely clench your fists and pummel the front and outside of your thigh. Next, move down to your calf, and use both hands to alternately squeeze the muscle away from the bone then release it. Finish by using one hand following the other to stroke up the back of the leg.

5 Rest one foot on the opposite thigh. Stroke the sole of your foot smoothly from your toes to your ankle.

7 and 8 Squeeze each toe in turn, then stretch each one with a gentle pull. With one thumb on top of the other, do a line of firm pressure down the centre of the sole before doing circular pressures on the arch and ball of the foot.

9 and 10 Lightly hack all over the sole of your foot with the side of your hand, then gently stroke up the foot towards the leg.

If you are in any doubt about your health, make sure you consult your GP

before embarking on any of the exercises or diets featured on Sally's page.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Gunnell, Sally
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 18, 1999
Words:599
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