With Wimbledon week in full swing, what better time to discuss balls and their use in a massage. As a therapist I love a good ball, or two. I use them a lot to help with my own personal rehabilitation and during times, like now with lockdown, when I cannot assist with releasing my client’s muscles. Let us look at the different types of balls out there and how they can be used by you, from the comfort of your own home to self-help aching muscles.
Can I use a tennis ball for a massage?
A tennis ball is a must-to-have at home not just for the cleaning ladies and gents, as we all know it is great for getting rid of cobwebs, but also to help with your own body. Many of you probably use them for sport, to remove scuff marks from your floor, and to fluff your bedding, but now is the time to use your trusted tennis ball on YOU!
The humble tennis ball can be the best buddy to a muscle knot! You can use them for self-massage or for specific muscle work known as myofascial trigger point release. Not everyone knows about this and it is why I wish to share how diverse and awesome a tennis ball can be. It is a time-honoured simple self-treatment for chronic aches and pains that I use as opposed to a bath. As a massage tool, I can personally endorse it as I use it so much myself. It is potable, handy, and cheap! You can grab it at any time to use on any suspected “knots” in your muscles as if it were a foam roller. How good is this? Knots can be soothed by the pressure and rubbing of a sturdy tennis ball until we are able to see one another again for a well thought out sports and remedial session by yours truly!
How to use that tennis ball?
They are the best for releasing knots in the back and hips. You can lie down on a tennis ball, pinching it between your body and the floor or wall. Explore knots by moving slowly and gently, until you’ve found an area of discomfort and then hold it until it becomes of less discomfort. Move on to another spot.
Do I have to use a tennis ball?
No, you can use a golf ball or a lacrosse ball as a massage tool for a further trigger point release.
I honestly tend to keep a selection of balls in my drawer, to help with different releases as I have no one to help release my muscle tension. I have used different balls for years. More common for self, but less for my client to have at home is a lacrosse ball. They are really firm and have a fantastic rubbery texture so easy to work with as they hardly slip when being used in tricky areas. Many of my clients have squash balls and use these as they are smaller and more precise, like a golf ball, as opposed to a tennis ball. I love a golf ball for more precise and deep work to be done on my gluteus maximus in particular.
What would you recommend?
For life, I would highly recommend a variety of balls to be kept at home with you, post lockdown. You can purchase most ball types in one trip to a good sports store. My bucket of balls is like having my own 50% of a good massage therapist on call for the rest of my life. When my body becomes weary and knotted from helping you all, and I cannot get to book in for a massage myself, I will always turn to my ‘bucket of balls’ for help. Mine consists mainly of a lacrosse and golf ball, as I much prefer deep tissue work on myself every time, I do not keep a tennis ball as I have gone beyond one over the years.
A tennis ball is a great start to self-massage and one I would highly recommend as we enter Wimbledon week. I must reiterate, that no ball can do it all, but it is a great start and incredible value when you cannot access my help both now and in the future!