The tennis ball massage you’ve been missing out on

Not everyone can afford personal masseuse session or trainer to tend to all of their muscle aches and pains.

Enter the trusty (and cheap) tennis ball.

When you’re short on money and time, there is an easy way to massage oneself with the benefit of being able to control where it happens and how much pressure is applied. You may have heard health professionals use varying terms for this self massage release technique, such as trigger point release or active release, but the scientific term is self-myofascial release. Myofascial release  is when you apply a low load (gentle pressure) onto the muscles to help them slowly elongate and release tightness.

Tennis balls are a great tool for the self treatment of “knots” in your muscles. By applying the right amount of pressure, the tennis ball releases muscle tension and reduces the risk of injury before and after a workout. You must always start gently, and never work into sharp pain or over acute injuries or inflammation. You can try alternating between rolling movements and sustained holds on a trigger point. Just listen to your body.

Seeking relief for sore muscles? Try these five easy tennis ball massage techniques.

Give the soles some love

Start standing and hold onto something for balance. Gently roll the whole foot, concentrating on the arch and the heel. Combine this release work with the calf and ankle, and stretch your feet if they are sore from running or standing in high heels. Tight muscles around the foot and calf area can lead to debilitating heel pain, achilles pain and calf pain.

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Booty babe!

Gently roll the juicy part of the hip into the ball while standing against a wall. For a stronger release, do this lying down with the knees bent, and press your feet into the ground to control the weight on the ball. Allow the knees to gently fall out to the side for a deep gluteal muscle release. Try this exercise with two balls to double the fun.

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Those pesky hip flexors

Start standing and lean into a wall. Place the ball below the bony part of the front of the hip and gently allow your body weight to sink into the ball. Stay propped up on your elbows, and allow the ball to move in gentle circular movements, working slowly to the outer hip.

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Spinal releases

With a single ball, stand up against a wall. Gently move the ball over any sore areas gently, but stay away from sharp pain and bony protuberances. If you have two balls, you can place both of them in a long sock, keeping a little space in between, and tie the end. Start lying on the ground, with the balls on either side of your spine, gently work from the lower back up to the upper back. When the balls are centred between the shoulder blades, try a few overhead arm raises. You may need to support your head on a pillow.

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Headaches and computer-related neck pain

You will need two tennis balls, either in a sock, or taped together. Lying down on the hard ground (not the bed), place each ball at the top of your neck, where the neck meets the skull. Gently lie here, and focus on breathing or try a short meditation.

 

About the person who wrote this

Victoria White

Victoria is Happy Melon's resident physiotherapist, who has a passion for movement, strength, flexibility and fluidity - of both the body and mind. She specialises in clinical Pilates and has trained extensively over the years to deliver a Pilates in a way that not only benefits you during the class, but also transfers to every aspect of your life once you leave the studio.

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