Throughout my career in massage therapy and bodywork I have gotten questions about “at home care” devices in general terms and for particular conditions. I think like anything else people in general, should trust their instincts but consulting a professional (or even a number of them) is always a good idea (just like every other profession there are a few good ones and a lot of bad ones). One product, the tennis ball by a wide margin one that I get a lot of questions about so I thought it might be a good idea to share some general insight.
To help loosen sore spots in the arms, shoulders, and legs this device makes some sense to use: 1. A tennis ball can create push back with as much force as is generally used by a massage therapist if they were going to work on many areas of the body with. 2. Tennis balls cannot create a sharp edge unlike other object people try to “push” into a painful spot. 3. Tennis balls are cheap and easy to find. 4. While traveling they are small, compact, and are TSA ok! There is one drawback…your pets may try to make them into one of their toys.
By the time most people have brought up using them on themselves they already have tried several times before they ask if they are doing it right. So instead of saying please don’t I will say here are a few general principals you can you to decide where it is ok to use the tennis balls for tight spots:
When working the back:
- Do not lay on top of them. Instead, bend at the knee with your feet should width apart and lean back into a wall with the tennis ball placed in the area of pain.
- The key to releasing anything is time. Hum your favorite song at least twice before moving on UNLESS the pain level increases or a sharp pain results.
- If you have any spinal curvatures ask your chiropractor first to prevent disc dislocation
- If you have weak bones don’t try please
- Never place a ball directly over the spine
When Working the Shoulders:
- Don’t jam a ball into the side of your neck
- If you start to feel pain or numbing in the hands or arms when you place a ball in your Deltoid you are most likely pushing on a nerve or blood vessel so stop it.
- If you want to move the ball around slowly just bend down lower or stand more upright against the wall the ball will move (this is useful around your shoulder blades).
When Working the Hips:
This can feel good after sitting for extend periods of time so travelers pay special attention!
- Stand perpendicular to the wall and rest tennis ball along the edge of your hip socket and gently lean in ( if this is not physically possible you can place the ball in a door jam and the frame of the doorway). This can release pressure on the hips which when tight can make it harder to walk or to get up from sitting down.
- For some sciatic nerve pains you can place a ball in the middle of the gluts on each side of the spine to prevent pain and numbing in the legs.
- If the pain is in the small of your back try finding the top of your hip and placing the ball near the spine on each side but not over it (again ask a chiropractor before doing if its ok for you).
When working just above the knee and the bottoms of your feet:
- Some people love working on their I.T. bands but hate using foam rollers because of the pain. You can work them by again going into a door jam and placing the ball anywhere along the I.T. Band.
- For those dealing with plantar fasciitis sometimes the rolling the foot over the bottom of the feet can feel very good. There are many remedies for working with the condition this is not a full proof plan but it can help most people deal with the pain.
Finally, I deal in the reality of your health not my exceptions so please if you are unsure ask a medical practitioner you trust to help you decide if a form of at home therapy is right for you or not. But like I said: most people don’t ask unless they have already tried it so I don’t talk down or preach to anyone…rather you ask and be honest then to hurt yourself and regret it.
Happy tennis balls to you and to you happy … well if you know the melody you know why I don’t write it…
Legal Disclaimer: Due to the litigious nature of many people I am forced to issue this statement: Any information contained within blogs, websites, postings, or news articles suggestions which I make to be open for interpretation that if you believe it may fit a concern or medical problem you may be having or suspect that you may have that you discuss it with your qualified healthcare practitioner including your physician. I do not take responsibility in any way for any content provided to you that you choose to act on without talking to a medical doctor or other qualified medical practitioner with legal standing of authority. You are free to act on any information from any source that you choose of which the consequences are your responsibility.