Using a tennis ball for self-massage is a wonderful and economic way to ease pain caused by chronic muscle tension.
While sore muscles following a tough weight lifting session is not fun, after a couple of days the tension subsides and agility returns.
Muscle knots, on the other hand, are a whole different ball game. Knots are sore spots in your muscles that cause tension both at the site as well as elsewhere in the body. Left unchecked, these knots can lead to myofascial pain syndrome, a chronic condition where the muscle pain persists or worsens over time.
Many people who experience trigger-point pain, especially in the
- hands, and
are victims of repetitive lifestyle movements.
- Using a computer or texting on a phone places repetitive strain on the hands, wrist, and neck.
- Sitting for much of the day contracts the muscles surrounding the low back and knees.
- Leaning forward or slouching over a desk keeps the upper back under tension.
The tennis ball is small enough to isolate pressure where it is needed, making it effective for releasing small areas such as the hips, low back, hands, and feet.
Keep in mind that, it is not only unnecessary but also unsafe to spend longer than 10 breaths on any one area, and “digging deep” into the area of pain will not be more effective.
Place the ball underneath the arch of the foot, standing next to a wall or chair for stability, if needed. Keeping the heel on the floor, inhale and gently press your body weight into the ball, exhale and release the pressure. Repeat for 10 breaths or 60 seconds. Proceed to roll the ball along the length of the foot, from toe to heel, massaging the sole of the foot with the ball for 10 breaths or up to 60 seconds. Repeat on the other foot.
Sit on the floor with one leg extended. Place the ball behind the calf, at the midway point. Gently rock the leg from side to side across the ball for 5 full breaths. Move the ball 2 inches higher and repeat. Move the ball to about 1 inch below the back of the knee and repeat. Switch legs.
Lean into your right forearm, with the right leg straight and the left leg bent to support your body weight. Place 2 balls under the outside of the right thigh, between your leg and the ground. Slowly roll your thigh from side-to-side across the balls. Repeat for 15 breaths or up to 2 minutes. Repeat on the other leg.
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Drop your right knee to the side and place the ball under the side of the right hip. Gently roll your body weight from right to left across the ball, breathing deeply. Repeat for 15 breths or up to 2 minutes. Repeat on the other side.
LOWER BACK PAIN
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find the 2 bony bumps on either side of your spine, using your thumbs. Once you have found these points, move your thumbs down 1 inch and place each ball on the corresponding thumb point. Avoid pressing on to any bones. Once in place, gently release your body weight into the balls, breathing deeply, for 15 breaths or up to 2 minutes.
Sit on the floor and place the heel of your hand on the ball. Gently shift your weight forward to apply pressure into your hand. Breathe deeply for 30-60 seconds. Next, roll your hand across the ball, up and down, and side-to-side, for 30-60 seconds. Repeat with the other hand.
Sit comfortably, holding the ball in one hand. Gently roll the ball along the jawline from the ear lobe to the chin, making gentle circular motions as you travel up and down. Continue for 30-60 seconds on one side before switching to the other.
Lie comfortably on your back. Place the ball on the left side of the chest, rolling it around with your right hand. Keeping the pressure very light, roll the ball on the front of the shoulder and over the pec muscles; avoid the sternum and collarbone. Continue for 30-60 seconds on one side before switching to the other.
Lie comfortably on your back. Place 2 balls at the base of the scull, one on either side of the spine. Gently allow your neck to relax against the balls, avoiding excessive force. Softly turn your head from right to left, keeping the chin tucked into the chest.
Tip: If you have problems with the balls moving, place them in a long sock.
That’s it for this week; see you all next time.