[The Poor Man/Woman Massage]
If you are a desk jockey (i.e., you sit working on the computer most of the day), chances are you struggle with all the musculoskeletal aches and pains that come from the hazards of the job, including neck and shoulder pain, back pain, and arch pain. One of the most helpful desk tools you should have access to is—a tennis ball.
A tennis ball is a handy, portable self-massage tool that you can use on those suspected “knots” that build in your muscles. It’s like a mini-foam roller. Muscle “knots” are sore, aching spots known as “trigger points” and can be soothed by pressure and rubbing. (1) Using a wall or the floor, you apply pressure to specific areas that you simply can’t get to with your hands. It doesn’t have to be a tennis ball. You could use a lacrosse ball, a pinky ball or (for the brave of heart) a golf ball.
[The Goal: RELEASE!]
The goal of tennis ball massage is to achieve a “release” by applying just the right amount of pressure enough to do some good, but NOT enough to irritate your nervous system. Once you find the “just right” amount of sensation, relax as much as possible. When the sensation fades to about 80% of the original intensity, the knot has “melted” or “released.” This can take from 30 seconds to a few minutes. (1).
Tennis Ball Around Shoulder Blade
Sitting at the computer all day with upper back hunched and shoulders rounded forward can lead to muscle imbalances (and pain) in your upper back, neck and shoulders. This exercise is designed to rejuvenate and release those tight muscles.
How to: Either lay on the floor or stand against the wall and raise your right arm, placing the ball between your right shoulder and the wall or floor. Find a sore spot and hold to release the tension. Gently move the ball to another spot and repeat. Hold for at least 20-30 seconds on each sore spot until you feel the release. NOTE: The wall is trickier to navigate. Try putting 2 tennis balls inside a sock for more control and more coverage.
Tennis Ball on Glute
The many muscles on the gluteal complex can contribute to knee, hip and back pain. This exercise will help keep them supple and healthy.
How to: Either lay on the floor or sit on a chair, placing the tennis ball under one side of your buttocks. Find a sore spot and hold to release tension then scoot the ball gently to another spot. Hold for at least 20-30 seconds per sore spot.
Tennis Ball on Arches
Most of us have feet that are deconditioned, especially sedentary workers. (3) The downward pull of gravity places a tremendous amount of stress on your feet. Out feet tend to respond with over-pronation. This exercise will rejuvenate and regenerate the soft tissue of the arches.
How to: Place the tennis ball under your foot and roll the tennis ball from the base of your heel to the ball of your foot. After rolling your arches, find a tender spot and press down, holding for 20-30 seconds for each tender point.