This blog aims to demonstrate how you can benefit from giving your muscles a self-massage, using a range of tools. This should, with practice, achieve similar results for the muscles as having a massage, but in the comfort of your home.
Massage balls are great tools for massaging and ‘trigger point therapy’. Trigger point therapy is a form of massage therapy, when direct pressure is applied to specified points, on tender muscle tissue, to reduce muscle tension and aid pain relief. It should help to improve your mobility and provide a relaxing effect, although that usually occurs after the exercises are completed. It is an effective technique which Lucyna massage therapy uses often with amazing results. Worth a try?
The ball mimics the pressure produced by a massage therapist’s palms or elbows. You could use a tennis ball in place of a massage ball but due to the softness of a tennis ball, it is not as effective in providing a thorough deep tissue massage.
The objective is to target ONLY soft muscle tissue, and to avoid joints and bones. You should search for problem areas by moving the ball slowly. Once you locate a spot that feels tender, roll on it with enough pressure to aid in loosening up the muscle. You can apply varying levels of pressure, with your body weight which will determine how deep the massage will be. The aim is to release tightness and not to end up with bruises! And as always if it does not feel like it is benefiting you, or it hurts – stop! It will be uncomfortable at times, but it should be a feeling of release and relief, not pain.
You could use a golf ball for a foot massage, but this is the only area that I recommend using a golf ball.
Start with the ball under the arch of your foot. Roll back and forth while pushing into ground with enough pressure to provide yourself with immediate relief from tight arches. Make sure you apply lots of pressure and experiment with different areas of the foot to increase the benefits, around 5 mins should be enough.
A ball foot massage can help people who suffer from plantar fasciitis.
FACT. Plantar Fasciitis – is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a part of your foot that connects your heel bone to your toes. Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain around the heel and arch of your foot. It may be worse in the morning. You are more likely to get plantar fasciitis from exercising on hard surfaces, wearing shoes with poor support or being very overweight. You can usually help plantar fasciitis with things like rest, ice packs and comfortable shoes. A foot specialist can help if it does not get better.
TIP – Put the massage ball in the freezer and try a cold foot massage. Freezing a bottle of water and using this as a foot roller is also a great relief for sore feet.
Calves (back of the lower leg)
Sit on the ground and stretch out the leg you want to work while bending your other leg at 90 degrees. Place the massage ball underneath the calf you want to work at the top near the support knee, but never under the knee. Put both hands behind you on the floor to support your body. Move back and forth slowly and as controlled as possible, so that the massage ball moves up and down your calf muscle. You could rotate your leg inward or outward to target other sections of your calf muscles. For added pressure, place your other leg on top of the leg you are working on.
Hamstrings (top back of leg)
Sit on the ground and stretch out the leg you want to work while bending your other knee at 90 degrees. Put the massage ball at the top of your hamstring muscles. Place your hands on the floor behind you, keeping your elbows straight. Lift off the ground and roll your leg side to side on the massage ball. Then, reposition the massage ball lower and repeat and so on but never behind your knee. Repeat the same side to side movement on the other leg. Remember to move across the muscle and not parallel to it.
Quadriceps (top front of leg)
Lie down on your stomach while supporting yourself on your elbows, then bring your right leg up, rotated out to the side of your body. Place the massage ball under your left thigh, with your leg extended and your toes pushing into the ground, giving you more leverage. Then, push with your toes forward and backward, rolling the ball into the target areas.
Lie on one side and then place your forearm on the ground while extending your leg. Bring your other leg over in front of you. Place the massage ball under your hip then put your hand on the ground in front of you. Move your hips around to release the tension in the tight areas. Make sure to place the massage ball on soft tissue on the sides of your hips while avoiding direct contact with bone. If it hurts, stop, and try standing up and placing the massage ball between the wall and your tight areas. Move slowly back and forth focusing on the soft tissue of your hips.
Sit on the ground with your knees bent, feet on the floor in front of you. Put your hands down on the floor behind you for support. Then put the massage ball under one glute. Push off the ground with your hands and roll around until you find the tender spot and keep this position until you massage away any discomfort. If you require a deeper massage, simply cross the leg you are working over the opposite thigh while bending your elbow taking advantage of gravity.
Avoid direct contact with your spine
Place the massage ball vertically under your lower back. Then, roll side to side while breathing deeply. Be careful not to go directly on your spine. Once you reach points that are stiff, move slowly to massage away any discomfort.
Place the massage ball horizontally midway down your back. Then, roll up and down by pushing into the ground with your heels while using your forearms against the ground to the sides of your body in order to stabilize yourself. Make sure you move slowly and avoid direct contact with your spine. Use a wall instead of the ground if you want less pressure.
Stand with your back against the wall. Place the massage ball between the stressed area and the wall. Push back into the wall using the pressure to release the pain. Move in small circular motions making sure you avoid direct contact with your shoulder blades. You could put the massage ball into a long sock to help position the ball on your upper back. For added pressure perform this massage lying down on your back and using gravity for pressure.
Lie down on the ground or place the ball behind your neck to the left of your spine, below your skull. Then, roll the ball or your head side to side making sure to avoid direct contact with your bones. Repeat on the other side.
Place the massage ball on a table then put your forearm over the ball. Press down with your forearm while rolling the ball from your wrist to your elbow. For added pressure use your opposite hand on the top of your forearm.
Stand facing the wall or lie down and place the massage ball on your upper chest. Press into the ball massaging your chest to release the pectoral major muscle. For added pressure perform this massage lying down on your stomach
SELF MASSAGE / EXERCISE – A FOAM ROLLER
I have been using a foam roller for a while and find them highly beneficial. Muscles are tissues and they also cover another form of tissue called ‘fascia’. Both tissues can become knotted and build scar tissue. By using a roller, you can reduce these knots so that they can lengthen and contract properly.
Here are some exercises to try out, these which will incorporate a self-massage too!
SELF MASSAGE – HANDS
Let me know how you get on and I hope to see you back in flesh soon!