Life would be wonderful if we all had a personal massage therapist at our disposal to help rub out the soreness, stress, and tension that we experience on a daily basis. Unfortunately this is not realistic for most of us, and while we all love foam rolling, sometimes a foam roller is just too big for those harder-to-reach places.
However there is an effective way that one can experience complete relief from tired and aching muscles. Best thing about this, you may even find the answer on the floor of your kid's room. Plus it's easily portable—it can be stashed in your desk at work or thrown in your carry-on. What magical tool am I talking about? A rubber lacrosse ball. [Tweet this tip!] This highly durable SMR (self-myofascial release) tool has become more popular over the past few years as an easy way to activate trigger points in muscles and relax very stressed areas.
Below are five different ways you can use a lacrosse ball for more effective myofascial release. Perform each of the following exercises for up to 60 seconds. They can be performed before or after your workout, as well as any time throughout the day. No need to go fancy—a simple maverick STX lacrosse ball ($2, lax.com or your local sporting goods store) will do the trick.
1. Soothe sore feet. Place the lacrosse ball under the arch of your bare foot and begin rolling over it. The ball will provide instant relief from tight arches and also help those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. I recommend keeping a ball in a ziplock bag in the freezer for an after-work cold foot massage or storing one in your carry-on bag for your next flight.
2. Ease glute pain. In a standing position, rest the lacrosse ball between your glute and a wall with the ball directly over the area you are experiencing pain. Press your glute into the wall and begin performing circular motions in and around the area. Once the pain subsides, stop moving and increase pressure into the wall with the ball resting directly over the sore spot. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
3. Loosen tight hips. Lie on the side where you are experiencing tightness with knees bent 90 degrees and stacked on top of each other. Rest hands on the floor in front of your body. Raise your hip, place the ball directly under the stressed area, and slowly lower your weight back onto the ball. Begin moving your hips around to massage and release tension in the area. If the pain is too severe, stand up, place the tight hip closest to the wall, and place the ball over the tight area. Begin moving your hip around to massage the pain away.
4. Relieve shoulder stress. Positioning the ball in this area can be tricky, so place it in an old stocking or sock to give you more control. Stand tall with your back close to the wall. Hold the end of the stocking or sock with one hand and, allowing the ball to rest between you and the wall, position the ball directly over the stressed area. Press your back into the wall. You can rest the ball over the area or perform small circular motions until you start to feel relief. [Tweet this tip!]
5. Ease forearm pain. Sitting in front of a computer all day can wreak havoc on your forearms. If not properly stretched and strengthened, this can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Try these two ways to relieve the tension: Hold the ball in one hand and role it up and down the forearm, or place the ball on a desk or other flat surface and rest your forearm over the ball. Press your forearm into the ball and run it over the ball. I recommend doing this several times throughout your work day to relieve your muscles.