Self Myofascial release with tennis balls


For those times when you wish you had your own massage therapist to hand, grab a couple of tennis balls for self-treatment of muscular tightness, tenderness, pain and dysfunction.

Tennis balls are inexpensive and versatile, in that you can use them for most areas of the body.

General guidelines:

  • Avoid using tennis balls purchased from a pet shop (they are not good quality).
  • Use a yoga mat for padding and traction. Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing as they will just get tangled up as you move. Bare skin works best!
  • Do not place the balls directly on bony areas or over your joints.
  • Find a tender spot and relax your body weight down into the balls. Remain until the tenderness has subsided completely (you’ll still feel the pressure of the ball(s) of course, but it will no longer be painful). This may be anywhere from 20 seconds to a few minutes.
  • Relax and breathe – tensing up is not helpful. If it is impossible to relax, then control how much weight you allow to rest of the ball.or place a blanket between yourself and the balls to provide a little cushioning.
  • Tender areas may refer sensations or pain to other parts of the body or may just be felt in the area you are applying pressure to.
  • Test your range of motion and/or level of discomfort before you address a specific area and compare this to how it feels afterwards. There should be significant improvement.

Neck release

Good for releasing discomfort and tension from your neck and the upper trapezius muscle as well as tension headaches.

Place two tennis balls together in a sock or stocking and tie up the end so that there the balls do not move apart.

Locate the base of your skull on either side of the very top of the cervical spine (neck). Palpate with your fingers and notice that it is usually tender here. This is where the upper trapezius muscle feeds into the base of the skull.

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Lie down and place the balls at the base of the skull. They should stay touching each other, so that they are close to – but not putting pressure on – the neck vertebrae.

Allow the head to be heavy and, relax your shoulders and jaw. Play around with tucking the chin in a little until you find the sweet spot!

Piriformis muscle

This is helpful for lower back & sacroiliac pain, pelvic asymmetry and knee pain.

The piriformis muscle runs from your sacrum to the top of your outer thigh bone. It is a deep, external rotator of the hip joint. It’s a commonly tender spot for most people. Find the centre of the fleshy part of the buttock (if the buttock where a square then you are aiming for the centre point). This will be a little off to the side of the sacrum as pictured.

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Lie down on your back with your knees bent and the soles of the feet flat on the floor hip distance apart. Then place your right ankle just above the top of your left knee as shown. Keep your right foot flexed. Lift your hips in order to put the tennis ball on the mat then lower back down, allowing your body weight to sink into the ball. Relax! Lean the pelvis a little to the right (your left buttock will not be on the floor). Move around a little until you find a tender spot and hold still. Once this area releases, move a little to one side, or slightly up and down to seek out another spot. Repeat this process until the whole area feels softened and no longer tender then repeat the whole process repeat on the left side.

For a deeper release, from the lying down position, sit up and place your hands behind you for support, keeping the chest lifted. This will bring more body weight down into the area.

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Enjoy!

 

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