The idea of using a massage ball is to reach specific spots in your muscles that are holding tension by trapping the massage ball in between another object and that spot – either the floor, the wall or any other hard surface. It is similar to foam rolling but just much more specific. Massage ball trigger point release is very useful for the muscles of your back and hips (especially glutes!) as these are more difficult to reach and harder to get a good release with a foam roller. Having said that, a massage ball is a great little tool for any muscle in the body, not just the back and glutes!
The goal of trigger point release with a massage ball is to apply just enough pressure to do some “good” but not too much that you over stimulate the nervous system and the muscle tissue. The sensations felt when you are compressing a trigger point should be clear and strong and sometimes somewhat satisfying, or what we call a “good pain”. You should not be wincing or gritting your teeth, as this means you might be being too firm.
Once you have adjusted your body to achieve the optimal pressure, try and relax as much as possible with a couple of deep breaths and wait for the intensity of the spot to decrease by at least 50% of what it began at. This is the “release” phase, or the melting or softening of the “knot”. This can take anywhere between 10 seconds to a couple of minutes, so be patient! Once you have felt the release you can then move on to the next troubled area.
You can also use the ball actively as well, by rolling it back and forth, up and down, over tight and sore areas to stimulate a release of the muscle fibers that have become locked together.
As noted above, massage balls are such a great tool to have at home as they are so versatile and their accuracy is usually better than a foam roller for those smaller niggles and pains in harder to reach areas!
Come in and give one a go, we sell two variations of a massage ball here in the clinic.