Last month we looked at using foam rollers and the benefits of regular self release. We continue on with some other massage and release options in this post – specifically bringing in various balls and when to use them.
Various types of common balls make great self massage and self release tools. Think of them as complementary to foam rollers. Balls work really well as they are usually smaller than foam rollers. So they can be used to target smaller areas. They can be softer (rubber balls or tennis balls) and/or firmer than the rollers (especially hockey balls golf balls and softballs) importantly they also can have different surfaces eg smooth spiky or bumpy.(See photo above for the variety of balls you can use)
Balls are great for their portability. They can be easily put in a gym bag or travel bag to take with you when away from home. They are small and light so easy to pack and transport. They can be used at home, at work or wherever you exercise, or a hotel room or accommodation at events.
Like the roller they are beneficial by allowing better movement, less restriction and may help to reduce injury risk in the long term due to this. They can be used anywhere on the body and will often be quite relaxing after using them.
As for the roller I encourage my clients and athletes to use them pre exercise and pre racing as part of their preparation and warm up routines, often in the mornings. After exercise or competition they are fantastic as a warm down routine or recovery session. Try to do your release work before your stretching exercises.
Start at ball of your foot. Roll to your heel, stopping and applying pressure on any trigger points you find along the way. Don’t forget to get the insides and outsides of your feet. (as shown by Ilse Petersen)
Chest and Shoulder
These are great releases for tightness or stiffness around the shoulder joint as well as being useful for upper back and neck to allow freedom of movement. (as shown by Sean O'Rourke)
Place the ball under the thigh in the belly of the hamstring muscle. Push down firmly onto the ball and raise the foot. As you extend the leg you will feel the pressure increase.
With the ball under the outside of the butt, drop the knee and roll around to find the tight points. Sit on these for 15-30 seconds then move onto the next. Great to help prevent lower back pain, sciatic pain. (as shown by Sean O'Rourke)
As with the glute release but place the ball at the top of the thigh, just below the hip joint. (as shown by Sean O'Rourke)