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Fitness:Learn the secrets of a good massage to aid recovery and boost your immunity.

Massages are a great way to aid muscle recovery and immunity, but it’s not as easy for an average guy to stick to a massage routine as it is for elite athletes. That being said, don’t let that stop you from benefitting from this tried-and-true recovery method.

If getting a massage every time your muscles could use a recovery boost isn’t in your budget, you’re not out of luck. Try these at-home, self-massage techniques to relax and refresh tired muscles.

1. USE YOUR BARE HANDS

“Start by applying lotion or oil, and massage in long strokes,” says P.J. Hair, a massage therapist who’s worked with Olympic athletes. “Locate areas that feel tight or tender, then apply pressure to them. You’re essentially holding a trigger point. Breathe into it so your body relaxes. Once you feel the muscle release, press deeper until it softens.”

2. USE A FOAM ROLLER

“Research shows that slightly softer rollers—the foam kind, without the PVC core—are more effective,” Hair says. “If you create too much pressure with a harder roller, the muscles get protective and tighten. Be sure to avoid pain—it’s a misconception that pain is good. If you’re doing self-massage and it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.”

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