Massage Away Your Stress
After a long day at work do you ever feel like you have built up tension from sitting all day at the computer? Neck tension, tension headaches, sleep disturbance, mid-back pain, and sciatica are common issues among working professionals.
The good news is you do not have to pay for a weekly massage because you can massage your muscles yourself. Unless of course you have a very sweet and caring friend or spouse.
Listen: All you need is a tennis ball and you are ready to tackle that tension for good.
As a Physical Therapist, I work with a lot of patients who complain of pain due to trigger points and tension in their necks. A trigger point is an irritable spot in the fascia that surrounds your muscle; It feels like a knot or taut band in the muscle. The most common cause of this tension is posture. A forward head posture is a precursor to myofascial pain because it leads to muscle imbalances, trigger points, headaches, joint mobility changes, and possible nerve compression (leading to arm pain). As a result, it may be difficult to sit, stand, or use the computer for long periods of time.
The best form of treatment for these myofascial issues is massage, heat, and stretching. Try treating yourself at home however keep in mind if the issue goes unresolved you may consult your Physician or Physical Therapist.
How tennis ball massage is done
First, warm-up the muscles you are targeting with a heating pad or an active warm-up. These massages are great for after your workout. Once warmed up you will need a tennis ball (or similar small, firm, and/or spiky ball) to perform the massage of each muscle in an elongated position. Keep in mind foam rollers are also great pieces of equipment for muscle release however we will use the tennis ball since it is more easily accessible.
There are two ways to massage with a ball. One technique is to massage the muscle you are targeting while moving in different directions: up/down, left/right, and circles. A second option is to hold steady pressure on one trigger point for a few minutes. I recommend you perform the massage for a couple minutes in each impaired area. Then follow it up with a stretch of that muscle.
Here are a few of the most common areas to target. I will demonstrate most of the massages while lying on the ground which I find is best. However if you have difficulty getting onto or up from the ground, numbers 1-4 can also be performed in standing with the tennis ball between your body and the wall.
6 Areas to Massage
Arch of Foot
Glutes (great for sciatica!)
Upper Neck (great for headaches!)
Try those techniques out and let me know how it goes by commenting below!