Do you struggle with overly tight muscles? Are you feet tired a lot? Do you have excess tension in your hips, legs, or back? Did you know that there is a simple trick that you can do at home to help relieve tight muscles? Read on to learn about my simple, natural, and fuzzy tip. Yes, fuzzy.
Behold the power of the tennis ball.
See this guy above? My best friend. Well, not really. I mean my husband is my best friend… and then there are probably a hundred other people I’d put ahead of an inanimate object, but nonetheless I LOVE my tennis ball.
You know what else I love? Massages. Oh boy. If I’m ever rich I plan on setting up a weekly appointment with a massage therapist. Doesn’t that sound lovely? But I’m not rich. This means that I’ve only had 6 professional massages in my whole life. Two of them I won (seriously). Two of them were give to me for free by a massage therapist student (awesome). And two were paid for with real money because at the time I was desperate for some pain relief.
Not that I can complain. I married a man who helps me with my tense muscles quite frequently. And when he’s not enough I always have my tennis ball. In fact, in my experience a tennis ball works better than most of those massage balls you can buy. And they are cheaper. Score.
How to use a tennis ball on tight muscles
Basically, all you need to do is trap the ball between your body and something else… like the floor or a wall. With the help of our friend Mr. Gravity, the tennis ball works by releasing tight muscles either by rolling through muscle chains or working with specific pressure points for a sustained period of time.
Like a good massage, the sensation you are aiming for is not one of endured pain, but of satisfaction. Stay tuned to your body, breathe, and allow your brain to “let go” as well as your tight muscles.
3 simple tennis ball massage techniques
1. Foot Rolling
Place a single tennis ball underneath your heel. Keeping your hips as level as possible (you may have to bend your leg), begin rolling your foot forward and back on the ball. Press into the ball as much as feels comfortable. Stop at any specific tight spots and let your weight sink into the ball to release tension in your muscles and connective tissue.
2. Back Massage
Against a wall: Place two tennis balls inside a tube sock. You now have a really cool self massage tool! Standing against a wall, place the tennis ball sock between you and the wall. Begin rolling the balls up and down by bending and straightening your legs.
On the floor: Place two balls underneath your back (or use your sock again) while lying down. Allow the weight of your body to release into the ground while the tennis ball works on specific pressure points. I like to start with the ball at my lower back so that I have one ball about 1 inch on either side of my spine. Lie here for a minute and then move the tennis balls up your spine, taking 1 – 2 minutes at each spot.
3. Sacroilaic (SI) Joint Release
Your sacroiliac or SI joint is the joint that connects your sacrum to your iliac (part of the pelvis). A lot of people, especially women, struggle with SI issues. It’s a semi-movable joint that can easily get out of place due to hormonal changes, pregnancy, labor, and tight muscles. This simple tennis ball trick can help relieve pressure on the SI joint and keep the muscles relaxed so that tight muscles don’t pull the joint out of place.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Place two tennis balls underneath your pelvis about 2 – 4 inches apart from each other. My thumbs are showing the general area here:
Lie here for a couple of minutes. Move the tennis balls around this generally area to target different muscle fibers for a complete release.
Some guidelines for using a tennis ball on tight muscles:
- Hold the ball in place for at least 2 – 4 minutes, keeping the pressure gentle but sustained and the sensation satisfying but not sore.
- The tennis ball works really well for the above exercises, but you can use it anywhere (well, maybe not your face… that could be awkward).
- Consider warming up the area to be worked on before starting. A hot bath or heating pad could work great.
- Listen to your body and stop if anything feels “not right.”
If you struggle with chronically tight muscles…
You may need to rethink your approach to movement, posture, and exercise. Check out my ebook Pain Free: 60 exercises for pain-free living to learn how to reconnect to your body and get rid of chronic pain and tight muscles forever!