# Tennis Ball Self-Massage: A Cheap and Effective Way to Release Tension in Your Body >[!example] 11 April 2023 #articles Using a tennis ball for self massage (or self myofascial release as it’s known) is an amazingly effective and cheap way to release tension within the body. And although there is debate as to the mechanisms behind how it works, there is no denying that it does. At least, it does for me and I’m not getting rid of my box of balls any time soon!^[Other balls can be used and I find different balls are great for different areas. I like tennis balls on glutes. Golf balls on my palms if I have spent the day typing. And hockey type balls for rhomboid area.] ## Steps to Take ![[Tennis Ball Massage.excalidraw.png]] ### Step 1: Trap the ball Simply trap the ball between your body and something else… like the floor or a wall. This can be used on any part of the body that you are feeling tightness. ### Step 2: Look for the 'painful' spots Ok so this is the ‘fun’ part… you are looking for the painful spots. Yes I said painful. But what I actually mean is those spots that are uncomfortable when you press on them. You’ll know when you find them. ### Step 3: Hold! When you find a spot, hold the ball in place with sustained pressure (or alternatively you can ‘milk’ the area by moving a couple of mm over the area). Put enough pressure on so that you are reaching around a 7-8/10 on the discomfort scale. ### Step 4: Breathe!! Breathe. Relax into the ball. Let your muscles release. Drop your shoulders. Did I mention breathe?!? ### Step 5: Wait until the level drops Hold until the discomfort reduces to around 2-3/10. This sometimes takes around 2-3 minutes. If it still hasn’t dropped after this time come off and try a different spot. ### Step 6: Listen to your body Listen to your body and stop if anything feels “not right.” It should feel like a ‘good’ pain. Again, you’ll know what I mean when you hit the right spots 😉 If you’re not sure if you have or not, chances are you haven’t! ### Step 7: Use the 10 second rule If the pain INCREASES after 10 seconds and you haven’t increased the pressure then this could be more of an acute injury to the tissues. This doesn’t need massage. It needs time to heal. ## Ways to use tennis balls for self massage Obviously, now that you know how to perform self-massage using tennis balls, I thought that it only made sense to give you some examples. Here are some releases that I have found to be beneficial to me and ~~many~~ most of my clients.  ### [[Hamstring Soft Tissue Release]] One of the mistakes that many people have when trying to self massage their hamstrings is by doing it on the floor. Sitting fully on a bench or table is an effective alternative allowing you to work along the full length of the muscle. ### [[Piriformis Soft Tissue Release]] The piriformis muscle can be a pain in the butt....literally. It can also cause sciatic symptoms as well as leading to hip flexor 'tightness' and knee pain. Using a tennis ball, trigger point ball or hockey ball to mobilise and release the soft tissues in the piriformis muscle in the hips. ### [[Lower Back (Quadratus Lumborum) Soft Tissue Release]] Use tennis balls, trigger point balls or hockey balls to mobilise and release the soft tissues in the Quadratus Lumborum in the lower back. Doing so can help the back move more freely which in turn can take the pressure off the hips (reducing hip and back pain) and the knees (reducing knee discomfort). If there is trouble with this muscle then it can cause pain when turning in bed, when standing upright or when coughing and sneezing. ### [[Infraspinatus Soft Tissue Release]] Along with the other rotator cuff muscles, the Infraspinatus is responsible for keeping the head of the humerus in it's socket. Now despite being located *behind* the shoulder on the scapula, the infraspinatus can actually cause pain to be referred to in the *front* of the shoulder, deep in the joint. Honestly! So if you are experiencing pain in the front of the shoulder that never seems to go away…try this. If, when you try it, the pain you usually experience is reproduced then you may have just found your culprit. You may also feel weakness and stiffness in the shoulder if this muscle is unhappy as well as pain referred down the arm and even up towards the upper back and neck. For such a small muscle it can really be a trouble-maker. ### [[Glute Soft Tissue Release]] Use a tennis ball, trigger point ball or hockey ball to mobilise and release the soft tissues in the Gluteal Muscles in the hips. Doing so can help the hips move more freely which in turn can take the pressure off the lower back (reducing back pain) and the knees (reducing knee discomfort). When the hips are not mobile the lower back and knees have to compensate. This can lead to problems in those areas. ## Final Thoughts As always, please remember that this is NOT medical advice and is used for educational purposes only. If you are having pain or health related issues, please speak to a healthcare professional. But if you do choose to try them, PLEASE use common sense. If something doesn't feel right then DON'T DO IT! Yes, mobilising restricted tissue can be *uncomfortable* but it should *not* be unbearable. Again…common sense peeps!