Spikey Massage Balls – Essential First Aid

Christmas Wrapping
Christmas Wrapping Fatigue?
November 30, 2020
stay hydrated
Tips to help you stay hydrated this Christmas
December 18, 2020
osteopathic gift spikey massage balls

Spikey massage balls - Instrument of torture?

When I show my patients the spikey massage balls, they either 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 the bottom of our feet at the start of our pilates classes - agonising bliss to start with, but you soon get used to it, and your feet feel amazing afterwards. Then we started to use 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.
osteopathic gift dog with spikey massage balls

How do they 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, encouraging the muscles to relax and increases the ability for blood to flow through them, helping the body to restore itself to health.

Tips on using a Spikey Massage Ball

  • Select the right size 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 (at the back of your thighs) and quadriceps (front of your thighs), the sizes in between work well on your neck, back, and arms.
  • Start with the softer balls and work up to the harder ones.
  • 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.
  • Don't tense up
    Focus on relaxing and breathing slowly and steadily to ensure you don't tighten the very muscles you are trying to loosen off.
  • Avoid recent injuries
    Don't use them on cuts or bruises, or on broken bones. Allow the tissues to heal, instead focus on the tight muscles that are compensating for the injury.
  • It shouldn't be painful
    It may be uncomfortable, but the intensity of the discomfort should reduce to about 80% of it's original intensity as the tissues relax.
  • Stretch the muscles
    After releasing them gently stretch the muscles out to encourage them to relax in a lengthened position. Moving the muscles will encourage the increase blood flow, and will promote healing.
  • 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.

Spikey Massage Balls Exercises

Here are some examples of how you can use a spikey massage ball - thanks to Rehab My Patient for allowing me to share from their great exercise prescription software. For specific exercises for youContact Us or book an appointment online, so that we can discuss your individual situation and identify the right exercises and advice for you.

Gluteal/Piriformis Massage

Sit on the floor and place a spikey ball under your right buttock. Straighten your right leg, while your left leg remains bent. Use your hands to support your body, and to control movement over the ball in a circular direction. You will feel the ball massaging deep into your gluteal (buttock) muscles.
Video: Gluteal Massage
Spikey massage balls gluts

Lower Back Massage

Lie flat on your back, and rest your head on a pillow. Keep your legs straight. Place a spikey ball under your lower back. This will cause your back to extend, which can be useful for preventing poor posture. To make the stretch stronger, place your arms above your head.
Video: Lower Back Massage
Spikey massage balls Lower back massage

Thoracic Massage

Lie flat on your back, and rest your head on a pillow. Place a spikey ball under your upper back (thorax). This will cause your back to arch slightly (causing it to extend), which can be useful for preventing poor posture. You can also roll the spikey ball up and down your spine, to create localised extension and massage to other areas. Make the exercise harder by removing the pillow.
Video: Thoracic massage
Spikey massage balls Thoracic massage

Sub Occipital (top of your neck) Massage

Lie flat on your back, and rest the bottom of your head on a spikey ball (the position is just below the bottom of the skull). Tuck your chin in slightly. Simply rest here in this position, or if you prefer you can gently roll the balls around to massage your suboccipital neck muscles (the movement is very small). This is a good exercise for releasing muscle tension from the top of the neck, and can also help headaches and migraines.
Video: Sub occipital massage
Spikey massage balls Sub occipital massage

If these tips don't work

Call your osteopath and ask for their help. It maybe you need a little more than a massage with the spikey balls. they will be able to assess and examine your symptoms and how your body is compensating for the pain. They will treat not just those areas which are hurting, but those which may be contributing to the cause of the pain, or which have adjusted to support you. Your osteopath will offer you tailored advice and exercises. #osteopathyworks #osteopathyforhealth #blackfenosteopath