Regular massage is a vital practice for keeping your muscles and fascia healthy and supple. In combination with regularly seeing a great massage therapist, a home based massage routine can be a great addition to your list of healthy habits.
Using a massage ball on the muscles in your body mimics the interaction a massage therapist has with your muscles and skin, with the added benefit that you get to control both where, and how much pressure is placed on a specific area.
Massage ball release is great to do while watching TV or chatting to a loved one or during any home exercise routine. It can also be used as part of a wider self-care routine and in between your regular massages.
Benefits of the use of the massage ball include:
- Produce deep relaxation and improved sleep by reducing muscle tension, easing stiffness, soreness and pain
- Temporary increase in localised blood flow, aiding circulation and soft tissue health
- Relaxation response of the nervous system and balancing of hormones, helping to relieve stress and anxiety
- Relief from the sensation and perception of tension and pain
- Improves joint mobility
As a home wellness practice, it’s important you are careful not to do the opposite and hurt yourself! So when you are using the massage ball, only apply pressure with it to your muscles, and be careful to avoid your joints and bones.
How to use your massage ball at home
Place the ball onto a part of your body, apply gentle pressure initially, and begin making little circles with the ball. Gradually circulate the ball around the entire area.
When you find an area that feels a little tender, even though you may want to remove the pressure this actually means you have found an area of the muscle that would benefit from a little extra attention. Gently continue to apply the pressured circles in this area - but don’t do it so hard that you are in pain (doing a little work each day on a tender spot will release the muscle eventually).
Breath deeply and calmly as you gently work into the tenderness and release the muscle’s tension. After a few minutes, remove the ball and notice how that area now feels, perhaps comparing it to the same area on the other side of your body. Then repeat the process on the same area on the other side of your body if you feel the need!
Applying this process over your entire body can take a while, so perhaps focus on one area during each session, completing a few sessions a week.
Be sure to hydrate after this work - your muscles need lots of water to recover after the massage.
Which areas can you target?
Calves and hamstrings: Sit on the floor and place the ball under one of your calf muscles. Using your backside and hands to balance and move you, roll the ball around between your calf and the floor.
Working in small circles to find the tender spots (and working into those when you do), move the ball gradually up the leg. Skip over the back of the knee, and continue rolling up your hamstrings.
Buttocks and hips: Lying on your back, place the ball underneath a butt cheek, repeating the rolling process. Below the larger glute muscles, there are lots of smaller muscles in your hips that work hard to stabilise your body as you move about your days, so working beyond the major muscles into these will be of great benefit.
Fronts of your legs: Lie on your front and place ball between a thigh and the floor. Balancing on your forearms and knees, roll the ball around between your thigh and the floor. The quadriceps don’t often get stretched in everyday activities so they will love this extra attention.
Side of your hips: Lie on your side, propping yourself up on your elbow and place the ball between hip and floor and gently roll on the ball. This work will nicely supplement the release work you have done on your buttocks.
Chest: Stand up close to a doorway with a smooth edge and place the ball between your upper chest muscle (close to the head of the shoulder) and the wall. As you apply pressure by leaning into the ball, your head will likely need to move into the space of the doorway.
This area gets very tight, especially for people who work on computers and often have their arms forward as they perform their work.
Here are some more ideas of areas in the body you can target with a massage ball, using the same pressure-applying method as we have outlined.
- Lower back
- Front and back of the upper arms
- In between and below your shoulder blades
- Bottom of your feet
- Palms of the hands
Check out these instructional videos below from the team at BJC Health for more tips.
[WATCH] How to use the massage ball on your neck.
[WATCH] How to use the massage ball and foam roller.