How to use the massage balls for pain relief?

It is a mistake to think that all training must be intense and repetitive, when rest and muscle recovery time must also be allowed for. This is when massage comes into play with the use of myofascial stimulation balls, which help to relax the tissues and reduce the pain associated with wear and tear and contractures.

Although the use of these massage balls is simple, it is also important to learn what trigger points are and how they affect muscle function, so you will know that it is best to massage these areas for total and lasting relaxation.

What types of pains can be treated with myofascial massage balls?

What types of pains can be treated with myofascial massage balls?

Unless you have severe pain that forces you to hold your breath and walk hunched over, there are some mild pains that you can treat with myofascial massage.

  • Headaches: Trigger points have the effect of causing pain in areas far away from them, but which are connected by internal tissues. This is the case of the head, whose pain may be due to discomfort in the cervical, shoulder and back, for this reason a specialist should evaluate all these areas to see where the trigger point to relax is.
  • Low back pain: a relaxing massage can eliminate tension in the lower back and reduce the likelihood of low back pain, which is a generalised condition of discomfort in the lower back that limits the patient’s movements. Large balls help to relax the area and minimise muscle tension.
  • Foot pain: Plantar fasciitis is often the main cause of mild pain due to overwork in the feet. The plantar fascia is part of the myofascial tissue that covers the whole body and you can relax it by using smooth balls, similar to Lacrosse balls, to stimulate the plantar arch and reduce discomfort.
  • Chronic pain: this is not a high intensity of pain, but the presence of pain over time, perhaps due to poorly healed injuries or diseases that compromise muscle function such as osteoarthritis. In these cases, it is advisable that people have the support of a physiotherapist.
  • Muscle pain: in the case of injuries such as sprains, strains and small bruises, it is likely that you will require a good massage with the use of balls such as these to increase the amount of blood that should flow to the affected area, this will help speed up recovery and gradually reduce pain.
  • Neck pain: the main reason for this ailment is the accumulated tension in the muscles of the upper back and cervical area, but the softest balls should be used to massage this area, because they are highly sensitive tissues that can be injured by applying too much pressure on them.

Types of massage balls: Which is the most effective for relieving pain in any part of the body?

There are different designs and sizes of massage balls on the market today, but they all fall into the following categories:

Lacrosse balls

Most of them are made of natural rubber and are more resistant than other types of balls. You can find them grouped in a pack with various sizes to increase the intensity of the massage depending on the part of the body, the smaller balls treat trigger points in deep and narrow areas. They relax myofascial tissue, unwind contracted muscles, offer relaxation against stress and increase the range of motion in the limbs.

Spiky balls

They were developed to simulate acupuncture and acupressure massages, but in these cases body weight is used to regulate the pressure the balls exert on the body. They are not hard balls, because the spikes should not cause additional discomfort or injury to the skin.

They are great for treating plantar fasciitis, increasing blood circulation, improving the lymphatic system and allowing better relaxation when muscles are strained in practices such as yoga, pilates and endurance sports.

Peanut-shaped massage balls

This design was created especially for the back, where gentle stimulation is required without touching the vertebrae. It is also used on the pectorals and to massage stabilising muscles such as those in the legs. They are not very rigid products, they are required to conform to the body. They are usually firmer than tennis balls and are used on the floor, while the body exerts pressure for a deeper massage without pain.

Electric vibrating balls

These devices are for manual use, so you must apply the smooth, vibrating surface of the ball to the skin with light pressure, as you are not looking for a great depth in the stimulation of the tissues. It is a percussion therapy and the massage is more uniform than with conventional balls, you should only take into account not to use this product for more than 30 seconds on a single muscle.

How to relieve pain in any muscle and joint with myofascial massage balls?

How to relieve pain in any muscle and joint with myofascial massage balls?

The first thing to understand is that there should be no rush when using these massage balls, you should take your time, although there are standards regarding the use of these products on the skin to avoid any associated ailments due to tissue damage.

Let’s look at the most important points to keep in mind:

  • Start to relax the muscles with gentle strokes, without pressure, and in a linear way, according to the direction and shape of each muscle you are going to work, there is no time limit if you just place the ball on the body with your hands and slide.
  • Once you have prepared the area to be worked, then select a ball with spikes or ridges if you want more depth in the massage. At this stage, you should be on the floor or leaning against a wall, depending on whether you will be stimulating the back or the quadriceps.
  • Avoid lasting more than 30 seconds with high pressure on a single point, the pain should be “pleasant”, you should tolerate it without holding your breath or hunching over.
  • The movements should be circular, longitudinal and transversal, depending on the area where the massage ball is. If you are inexperienced, it is best to seek the guidance of a physiotherapist.

What are the benefits of using massage balls to relieve muscle pain?

  • Relieves pain: is the main reason why people use these products, they have an ability to reduce this discomfort in case of mild and soft tissues.
  • Improves mobility: muscle function is improved with ball massage therapies, contractures, shortening and numbness are eliminated with frequent stimulation.
  • Increases circulation: Massaging with the balls creates bridges through which blood flows better and brings more oxygen and nutrients to the muscle fibres. It also reduces swelling due to vascular problems.
  • Reduces stress: when you get the body relaxed, this manifests itself in the mind by lowering the stress levels that people accumulate in the day at home or in the office.
  • Prevents injuries: because massage makes muscles more resistant to physical demands, it lowers the likelihood of minor injuries such as muscle strains and sprains.
  • Relieves myofascial tension: treating trigger points in the fascia keeps the fascia tissue elastic and does not affect muscle function. Fascia also carries nutrients to the muscles and massage enhances this quality.
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