How To Use Trigger Point Massage Ball In 10 Steps To Relieve Pain Fast
Trigger point massage balls are great for self-massage, particularly when it comes to relieving muscle pain and tension, soothing sore spots and knots, and improving flexibility and circulation in the body. These small tools are extremely effective at working out trigger points (small tender areas within a muscle that become sore when pressed) but you can’t just use any ball – there are certain steps you need to follow to get the most out of the process! Here’s how to use trigger point massage balls in 10 steps to relieve pain fast!
1. Roll out your upper back and shoulders
Upper back pain is one of those things that seems to plague us as we get older. If you’re nursing an aching back, try rolling out your upper back and shoulders with a trigger point massage ball before you even think about taking any kind of pain reliever. Those knots in your muscles are actually muscle spasms caused by tightness, stress and poor posture, so isolating them and forcing them to relax will help get rid of that nagging ache. You can find these foam-covered balls at any sporting goods store or online—some people like having two or three different densities on hand so they can decide which level of pressure works best for them.
2. Roll out your neck, back, and legs
These areas of your body hold a lot of tension, so try to roll them out for at least five minutes each day. For your neck, slowly tilt your head from side to side with both hands on your head. For your back, lie on a hard surface and push against it with your arms up over you head; alternatively, you can also use a foam roller and push into it while lying down (but do not force it too much!). Your legs can be rolled out by lying on top of a ball or using an ottoman to put pressure onto them as you lay face-down in a relaxed manner. If doing all three simultaneously feels too challenging, pick two out of the three that are easier for you. And remember—they should be done gently!
3. Isolate your right arm by placing a towel under it
Lie on your back with a towel under your right arm. Lift it up, and use your left hand to push down on your forearm until you feel a muscle contraction, or knot, in your bicep. You should feel it fairly high up on your upper arm, just below where it bends. Using a trigger point massage ball can help reduce tightness in muscles.
4. Give yourself a warm up with some fast rollouts on your forearm
Roll your forearm over a tennis ball. It’s not quite as effective as a foam roller, but it’ll help to get those muscles ready for some more serious work. Roll out each section of your forearm: Work one muscle group at a time with an intense focus on rolling out any knots you feel with your fingertips (or on harder muscles, try using a wooden spoon). Start at your elbow and slowly roll all along your bicep, triceps and forearm until you reach your wrist. Once there, switch sides and move down to begin working on your palm. Be sure to alternate between rolling in different directions (up-and-down and side-to-side) so that you can hit all of those trigger points.
5. Roll out to the little finger side of each hand
The little finger side of each hand is full of trigger points, meaning tight bands of muscle that develop when we spend too much time at our desks, without giving our muscles a break. A quick roll-out to these areas will help release those tender spots—allowing you to get back to work faster and more comfortably. Stand up from your desk (or wherever you’re sitting), place your hands flat on a wall in front of you and step away so that there’s about an arm’s length between your hands and the wall. (For reference, if you place one palm against a wall, it should be placed at shoulder height.) Then walk your hands down so they press lightly into the wall while they stay parallel with each other.
6. Work from palm to pinky and then back again
Using your thumbs or index fingers, work from palm to pinky and then back again on both hands. This will feel like you’re trying to touch all sides of it at once, says Hall. If you have really tight hands and fingers, work with a partner so that they can help press as well. Apply enough pressure to feel a sensation but not enough so that it hurts. Keep working until your hands start to sweat; then hold for 3-5 minutes (timing yourself).
7. Start on the inner thigh
Stand or sit in front of a desk or table with your thighs against it. Place both hands on top of one thigh and roll back and forth, applying pressure as you go. Gradually roll down to just above your knee and then up to your hip (avoiding sensitive areas). After 5-10 minutes on each leg, relax for a few minutes before rolling again.
8. Put The Muscle Balls down for a minute as you do this exercise (you can do it without them)
Stand up straight with your shoulders back and your abs tight. Put your hands behind your head and try to touch your elbows together. Reach a little higher, squeeze that shoulder blade down and back as you exhale, roll those shoulders up one at a time until they are slightly past parallel with the floor, then shrug them forward until they reach their highest point. Now roll them down in opposition to rolling them up and bring them slightly past parallel to return to standing position. Repeat 10 times. This exercise strengthens and activates many of what my clients call invisible muscles – those you can’t see but can feel in how they look and move, especially when walking or moving around all day long.
9. Put The Muscle Balls back on your feet, then continue onto the other leg
Start at your ankle, just below where you feel your foot hit your calf. As you move up, alternate between squeezing a spot on one leg and then moving onto to another. Continue until you’ve worked your way all the way up both legs. Once that’s done, go back down again. When you’re finished with each leg, it will have been massaged for about 30 seconds. That’s plenty of time to allow for trigger points to release and for circulation to kick in. Do about five sets of 30-second squeezes per leg, ideally once a day but at least twice a week.
Myofascial trigger points (muscle knots) are often a source of persistent, long-term pain and disability. The best way to find trigger points is by locating areas of painful tightness in muscle belly, typically associated with referred pain elsewhere or sensitivity to light touch. A firm pressure massage ball can help break up myofascial trigger points and relieve pain—but only if you know what you’re doing. Here are 10 steps for using a massage ball safely