Angie Miller's picture

Self-Massage with Therapy Balls

Clients often ask me what they can do to maximize and maintain the benefits of their massages in between sessions.  And what to do when they have to travel and miss regularly timed appointments. Self massage with Therapy balls! With your own knowing hands and a couple little rubber balls you can work your way into nearly all of your knots and trigger points.  They're a cheap, handy and portable massage tool.  I use mine all the time and never take a trip without them.

Therapy balls are used to pinpoint a tight or painful spot by positioning them between the achy muscle and a hard surface and then applying pressure.  It's a lot like foam rolling, only the balls enable you to be far more specific and accurate in your aim.  Using the floor as a hard surface allows you to make use of your body weight to go deep and hold for minutes at a time if you wish.  Using a wall requires you to press into the balls and gives you more control of the intensity of the pressure, but it can be a little tricky working against gravity to keep the balls in place.

Once you've chosen a spot on the wall or floor and situated the ball near that knot or tender area, apply some pressure. Explore the area by rolling up, down and across the muscle. When you find that sweet spot, sink in and hold or gently rock back and forth. You want to apply enough pressure so that you feel it, but not enough to make you cringe.  It should "hurt good", so to speak.  If it "hurts bad", lighten up.  You need to be able to relax as much as possible in order to experience release.   It may take a few seconds or up to a few minutes, but once the intensity begins to melt or fade you can move on.

Ball Therapy is best suited for targeting the muscles of the hips, butt and back.  They fit perfectly in the narrow and often knotted paths between the shoulder blades.  If you keep them in their little mesh sack they align perfectly with the long muscles on either side of the spine. They do a great job of finding the trigger points deep in the thick layers of gluteus muscle.  I also like to roll them into the tired soles of my achy runners feet or pin them behind bent knees to work the calf muscles.

If you would like a little live hands on tutorial on how to use home massage tools like the Therapy Balls and foam roller, I'll be teaching an hour long class on Saturday, January 14 at 5pm.  If you can't make it to the class, you can also schedule an extra 15 minutes onto your next massage for a quick and condensed lesson related to your session.


Happy Holidays and be well!

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