Spikey massage balls

Spikey Massage Balls – Instruments of Torture

Spikey Massage Balls – Tools for Healing 

When I show my patients the spikey massage balls, they ask if they are tumble drier balls or dog toys. They often look apprehensive and are initially reluctant to try them. However, it doesn’t take long to convert them to fans of these portable massage tools.

I was introduced to these small balls by a wonderful Pilates teacher. Initially, we used them to help loosen off our feet – agonising bliss to start with, but you soon get used to it, and your feet feel amazing afterwards. Then we used them to loosen off tight shoulders, low backs, etc. Now they are an essential part of my first aid kit, and I eulogise about them to all my patients.


How do spikey massage Balls work?

As you apply pressure from your body onto a spikey massage ball it returns that pressure through the “spikes” into the soft tissues surrounding it. This encourages muscle relaxation and blood flow, helping the body to restore itself to health.


Tips on using a spikey massage ball

  1. Select the right size massage ball for the area.
    • The smallest balls are great for hands and small feet.
    • The largest ones for the larger muscles – your gluts (buttock muscles), hamstrings, and quadriceps.
    • The sizes in between work well on your neck, back, and arms.
    • Start with the softer balls and work up to the harder ones.
  2. Slow and Steady
    • Don’t work too fast, the surrounding tissues need time to respond. Start gently and slowly increase the pressure to one which you can tolerate but feels like it is working. Work towards the tender spots, and then spend a little longer focusing on them to help the tight muscles release.
  3. Don’t tense up
    • Focus on relaxing, breathing slowly and steadily to ensure you don’t tense the muscles you are trying to loosen.
  4. Avoid recent injuries
    • I wouldn’t recommend using them on cuts, bruises, or broken bones. Allow the tissues to heal, instead focus on the tight muscles that are compensating for the injury.
  5. It shouldn’t be painful
    • It may be uncomfortable, but the intensity of the discomfort should reduce to about 80% of its original intensity as tissues relax.
  6. Stretch the muscles
    • After releasing, gently stretch the muscles out to encourage them to relax in a lengthened position. Moving the muscles will encourage an increase in blood flow, and will promote healing.
  7. Don’t jump straight into strenuous exercise.
    • After treating your muscles allow the body time to heal itself – 24 hours before you work the muscles to the point of fatigue.

Exercises for spikey massage balls

There are different ways to apply pressure using the balls. You can try any of the following 

  • Hold a ball in one hand, and gently press into the muscle to release tension, rolling it across the muscle. This works particularly well for arm or leg muscles. 
  • Sit on a firm chair, and pop the ball under your buttock to release your glutes. Gently move from in different directions to  release the whole muscle. Some parts of your buttocks may be more tender than others, reduce the pressure by lifting your buttock slightly. 
  • Lie down on a firm surface – the floor, or a firm bed, and pop the ball under your back or neck. Simply lying there will help to release some of the tension, or roll on and off the ball to help move it around. 
  • Standing against a wall, you can pop the ball behind your shoulder or neck and roll it up and down the wall to apply the [pressure. This is one of my favourite ways to address the tension in my shoulders after a long day writing blogs, and doing my accounts. 

If you would like to know more about how osteopathy can help, please contact us for a free 15-minute discovery call.  You can also book an appointment online, so that we can discuss your concerns, examine and treat you and identify the right exercises and advice for you.