Muscle pain and soreness can be a real downer, making you feel like you’re not as strong or capable as everyone else around you, especially in the workplace.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to alleviate muscle pain and soreness, but sometimes one method works better than others for certain people at certain times.
If muscle pain and soreness are starting to impact your ability to function in your day-to-day life, here are ten simple steps to relieving that pain and soreness with a spiky massage ball.
1) Choose the Correct Size
Though massage balls come in different sizes, it’s important to choose one that fits your needs. If you have shoulder pain and need focused treatment, try using a golf ball-sized ball. If you have more widespread problems like back aches, use a larger ball that spans multiple muscle groups. Also, try holding your spiky ball in different ways to change up your routine: If you typically hold it with both hands on top of each other, try using just one hand at a time or flipping it over to give each side of your body equal attention. Keep them moving: Remember not to stay still when rolling around on these balls—rolling in circles or up and down can help massage deeper muscles than simply rubbing against gravity will allow.
2) Grip the Massage Ball Properly
One of the biggest reasons people don’t use massage balls is because they simply don’t know how to grip them properly. With any type of ball or roller, you should hold it firmly and rotate it around your muscle groups. If you find that your hands are too weak or can’t get a good grip on your therapy ball, try wearing gloves while using it. It will help provide more traction, keeping you from rolling right off of it during treatment sessions.
3) Start Rolling from Your Shoulder Blades
A stiff neck and tense shoulders are an unfortunate side effect of sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time. To relieve stress from your upper back, start by rolling out your shoulder blades on an exercise ball. Lie face-up with arms overhead, chest resting on top of ball. Place thumbs underneath shoulders and roll forward until shrugging shoulders off floor as far as possible (you should feel it in your upper back). Hold 5 seconds, then roll backward to starting position. Do 10 reps daily or whenever you feel tension building up in your neck and upper back area. You can also do these exercises seated at your desk; just grab some resistance bands (which you can get at most gyms or health stores) and stretch while working.
4) Work on One Area at a Time
When you use a spiky massage ball, it’s best to avoid working on multiple areas of your body at once. Since each ball is unique, they can trigger different feelings depending on how they are being used. To get full results from using a spiky massage ball, work on one area at a time. Choose an area like your neck or back and roll gently over that region for about 30 seconds. It’s okay if you feel ticklish or uncomfortable – those are both normal reactions and means that you’re working the kinks out of your muscles!
5) Allow Time Between Areas
While you can use a massage ball on any area of your body, always allow time between sessions and don’t rub over areas that are sore. For example, if you want to address lower back pain, try rolling it out as much as possible at first. If you still feel some discomfort or pain, take another break and then go after it again when everything feels better. This way, your muscles won’t be damaged while they are in recovery mode.
6) Take Breaks As Needed
If you are exercising in hopes of relieving muscle pain, it’s important to listen to your body. If you feel any discomfort while exercising, stop and rest. Continuing will only exacerbate your injury and make matters worse. Also be sure that you are wearing comfortable clothes while working out; while exercising isn’t as serious as a job interview, you should still dress up—but be sure that your clothes don’t cause discomfort or interfere with any movement. Also make sure that you are warm; exercise naturally increases blood flow, which is why we tend to get warmer when we exercise.
7) Repeat on Other Muscles as Needed
It’s important to note that not every muscle responds to massage in the same way. Some, like biceps, can be relieved of pain by simply rubbing them. Others may require more aggressive treatment. Using a ball is an effective treatment because it presses deeply into muscles and can hit areas you can’t get at with your hands alone. If you use tennis balls, they may be too soft and won’t provide enough pressure. Instead, choose balls that are either partially deflated or completely deflated and then fill them up as much as possible—they’ll provide more bang for your buck!
8) Cool Down With Some Light Stretch-Ups
Before exercising, it’s best to perform light stretching and warm-up exercises. This will loosen your muscles for exercise and help avoid injuries by increasing blood flow and muscle flexibility. There are many ways you can get started. Try jumping jacks, high knees or walking lunges—they all do a great job of moving blood through your muscles while getting them warm at the same time. If you’re feeling particularly stiff, consider adding in some more advanced moves like push-ups or sit-ups until you feel ready for more intensive activity. And don’t forget that if you want your stretches to be effective, they need to last at least 30 seconds (try repeating each move 3 times), which is an easy way to make sure they get the job done!
9) Do Some Static Stretching Afterwards
Static stretching, where you hold your muscles in a certain position for an extended period of time, is good for injury prevention and recovery. But when you’re already dealing with soreness, adding static stretching can actually increase muscle tension. Instead, try rolling out your sore muscles using a spiky massage ball (like one of these or these). A review published in December 2012 in Physiotherapy Theory and Practice concluded that using a ball on trigger points is better than static stretching at reducing pain caused by delayed-onset muscle soreness. And if you want more evidence that sports balls are legit: A 2015 study from researchers at Stanford University found that foam rolling with sport balls is just as effective as traditional foam rolling (aka softer foam cylinders).
10) Enjoy Better Posture, Less Pain, and More Energy!
Tension in your muscles and joints can lead to poor posture, which is linked to chronic pain and migraines. Using a spiky massage ball regularly can help release that tension, improve your range of motion, give you more energy, and even relieve migraines. So grab one of these simple devices today—the benefits could change your life!