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June 2021 Issue
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Relieving pain with self-massage

Try using balls or a specially-made device to massage your upper back..
After a big tramp, tight and sore muscles can be nursed to health through self-massage.

Whether you use foam rollers, tennis balls or specially-designed tools, self-massage is a useful way to relieve painful muscles, especially those larger muscles that often end up sore and tight after a big tramp. You might not carry these tools in your pack, but try using them at home to target common sore points.

Shoulders and upper back

To release tension and soreness across the upper back, try rolling two balls down either side of your spine. Place the ball between your spine and the edge of your shoulder blade – avoid your spine and the bony part of the shoulder blade.

You can stand with your back to a wall and place the balls between your back and the wall, and then bend and straighten your knees to roll the balls up and down your upper back.

For more intensity, you can lie down on the floor with the balls underneath your upper back. Then bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Press into your feet to lift your hips off the floor, and then slide your body parallel to the floor.

While you can use tennis balls, I find them a bit too much pressure and prefer some of the specially designed tools. Or you can invest in a massage cane, which you can use to press tight spots on your upper back.


Tight glutes or buttock muscles are common after a tramp involving a lot of steep uphill walking. You can place a ball between the squishy part of your buttock and the wall. Then try moving your hips up and down, or roll in small circles. For a more intense massage, lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Place the ball under your buttock towards the outside edge of your hip and experiment with rolling in different directions to find relief.

Thighs and calves

Foam rollers can be an effective way to target the long muscles of the thighs and calves.

  • For your thighs, lie on your belly with the foam roller under one or both thighs. Roll back and forth over your thigh.
  • For your calves, sit on the floor and stretch your legs over the foam rollers. Press your leg down as you roll back and forth. For a more intense option, use your hands on the floor to lift your hips up. This will put more weight in your calves and intensify the pressure as you roll.

Three self-massage tools to speed recovery

Triggerpoint AcuCurve Self Massage Cane $49.99
This ergonomic cane relieves tight and sore muscle knots in hard-to-reach areas of the neck, back, and shoulders.


PTP Fitness Trigger Balls $29.99
With two levels of massage densities to suit various body areas and matching pain thresholds. For use on feet, glutes, hips, back, shoulders and forearms.

Triggerpoint Charge Vibe $239.99
A vibrating massage roller reduces the sensation of pain and provides quicker muscle recovery. For use on the back, hamstrings and calves.