Today, I’m here to wax poetic about one of my oldest, truest, most reliable and multi-talented friends. She goes with me wherever I go: work, overseas adventures, dance classes. She’s compact and fuzzy, and is always there for me after a long day on my feet or for a quick tune-up between clients. In fact, you and I may have already had a talk about her…
She’s my tennis ball. And she’s one of the best, most affordable and most portable self-massage tools on the market. Because gosh darn it, the dream of a live-in/follow-me-around bodyworker just hasn’t materialized yet ; )
There are numerous ways you can use a tennis ball for self-massage, but the two things I most often do are roll out my feet and roll between my shoulder blades. Let’s break it down:
1) Rolling Out Your Feet
Your feet are your foundation, and I don’t need to convince you of the importance of a healthy foundation. As we age, it becomes even more important to keep them healthy and pliable for maximum ease of mobility and other important benefits.
Did you know there are lines of fascia, or connective tissue, that run from the bottoms of your feet all the way up the back of your body? Same for the front of the foot up the front of the body. It’s all connected.
Our feet often don’t get the love and attention they deserve, but that’s about to change! All you need is one tennis ball. Place the ball on the floor and place one foot on top. I find it helps to be barefoot for added traction and control. You can stand or sit (nice desk-work activity to keep the blood flowing), though you can apply more pressure when you stand.
Basically, just follow what feels good. Hold in one place to melt a trigger point, or roll the ball slowly up and down and across your arch. Don’t forget the outside edges of the your feet, your heels, and the balls of your feet! Stay with one foot for a minute or two, then switch to the other side to balance yourself out.
Test this out: Measure your hamstring flexibility before rolling out your feet. Roll out your feet for a couple of minutes, then re-test your hamstring flexibility. You may be surprised to have gained a bit more, just from rolling out your feet : )
2) Excavating Between Your Shoulder Blades
Ok, so there are two great ways I’ve found of doing this. One is to lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. A slightly padded surface (carpet, yoga mat) can be nice. Hold onto a tennis ball with one hand, reach across the front of your body, and tuck it under the shoulder on that side. It should go right between your scapula (a.k.a. shoulder blade) and your spine. This should feel goooood. You can control the amount of pressure by pushing into your feet.
Let your body drape and melt over the tennis ball like warm chocolate syrup being poured over an ice cream cone You can also roll the ball up and down a bit. Do this with care!
The other way of doing this, which is great if you don’t have floor space or are on-the-go, is to lean up against a flat wall. Just lean against the wall and place a tennis ball in between you and it. You know what to do : )
There are many other ways to use a tennis ball for self-massage, but I recommend starting with these two, going slowly, and then trying out different parts of the body as you get more comfortable. And you can bet I’d love to show you some more interesting and awesome maneuvers before or after your next session with me
Love + rolling,
~ Inspiration Nugget ~
“To be beautiful means to be yourself.
You don’t need to be accepted by others.
You need to accept yourself.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh