When it comes to diversity and multitasking, massage balls are one of the best options for athletes, physiotherapists and sports doctors. With them, an important myofascial release is achieved through linear and circular body movements.
More than half of the world's population uses massage as a method of pain relief, as people recognise that it is better at relieving discomfort than other methods. In this article you will learn about how vibrating massage balls help your body and what you should consider when purchasing one wisely.
How can massage therapy help improve your health according to science?
The Euroamerican Journal of Sport Sciences, a refereed and academic organ of the University of Murcia in Spain, constantly publishes results of various studies on the efficiency of myofascial massages.
One of them states that Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) temporarily ensures joint mobility, prevents muscle injuries and improves the flexibility of the fascia, a membrane that is little cared for by people who are not involved in sports activities.
They used 20 young athletes, aged 18 to 30, from various disciplines and asked them to undergo massages using vibrating balls to measure the effects these have on the body. They determined that if people perform self-massage, joint mobility (ROM) increases, in contrast to those who do not use these massagers as a complement to training.
Other studies have measured the impact on the way blood flows better in the area where there is contact with stimulators such as the Foam Roller and vibrating massage balls, so myofascial release has become a real option for injury treatment and prevention.
What are the main benefits of using electric vibrating massage balls?
Vibration is a form of micro percussion, however, specialists prefer to talk about it as an additional massage technique, inclined to generate relaxation in superficial and deep tissues.
When vibrations are combined with myofascial routines, these benefits are highlighted:
- Reduces muscle tension: while the massaging balls stretch the fascia and muscle fibres, the vibrations stimulate the cellular structure that facilitates recovery, with immediate and long-lasting results as long as people make it a habit of life, thus ensuring that the relief will be long-lasting.
- Stimulates hormone production: endorphin and oxytocin are two of the hormones most present in the body when massages are applied. The former serves as a natural painkiller, while the latter improves muscle performance and healing processes. These benefits are obtained with frequent use of vibratory products.
- Avoid adhesions: by providing vibrations in the tissues, irregular joints and malformations that reduce the body's natural movement are prevented, as well as causing pain that often requires deeper massages and even surgery. After an operation, massage is likely to be the specialist's suggestion.
- Reduce mental stress: Many people turn to vibrational therapies to drain accumulated energy, which results in the presence of muscle nodules that hurt and stiffen body movement. Just as the mind tenses the body, when the muscles relax, the mind begins to calm its thoughts.
- It enhances the deactivation of nodules: if you are an athlete with frequent trigger points, the massaging and vibrating balls help to better control localised tensions that leave pain in specific areas of the body and in areas connected to them. An example is cervical tensions that cause headaches, so the massage should be given on the neck and not on the head.
- Avoid cramps and contractions: it is one thing to relieve a contracture and another to avoid it, to achieve the latter requires consistency and knowing at what point in the training session to massage with electric balls. Athletes use this complement as an ally in their schedules, which has been proven to reduce this type of injury.
What should we consider when choosing the best vibrating massage ball?
If you want to try massage balls as a therapeutic tool at home, in this section you will find a guide to what you should take into account before making your final purchase. The idea is that with these recommendations you will have a clear idea of what type of product you need to achieve your goals.
Conventional massage balls (without vibration) come in different sizes when you buy them in a pack, but electric balls do not have a standard size, they can be from 2.5 inches to 5 inches in diameter (6-12 cm).
This is because people can use these products in a variety of ways depending on their complexion and the parts of the body they prefer to massage. If it is the back, larger balls are better for covering a larger muscle area.
If the need is to specifically target trigger points, then smaller balls are more effective, provided there is prior experience in their use to encourage myofascial release and avoid injury.
The first massage balls were made of wood or metal, but when it was realised that these needed to be less hard, more flexible alternatives such as rubber, foam and high-density silicone were used.
You should always make sure that the material used by the manufacturer guarantees that it will not leave allergic reactions on the skin and that the spikes and protrusions are flexible enough to guarantee depth without leaving damage to muscle tissue. Without a doubt, checking the type of material is important to ensure correct use of the product.
The intensity of the vibrations will determine the depth of the massage. It is not only about the strength and how relaxing the session is, because the tissues closer to the bone structure must also be stimulated and that depends on the vibratory frequency.
On average, a quality stimulating ball has at least three frequencies in its power ranging from 48 Hz, as low power; 52 Hz, as medium power; and 62 Hz, as high power.
Higher power at 62 Hz can cause injuries such as bruising and additional muscle contractures due to over stimulation of the skin. Whenever you start a session, you should always start with the minimum power and assess your tolerance to the stimulations.
Rechargeable or battery operated
It is undoubtedly a good investment if you buy a ball that can be rechargeable by means of an electric cable connected to the socket in your home, thus guaranteeing a uniformity in the massages that you will not be able to obtain when using batteries or alkaline batteries.
In addition, with batteries you will have an additional expense by constantly purchasing these electric batteries because their service life is shorter than the lithium batteries of modern electrics massagers. This feature speaks for the quality of the device.
If you choose the rechargeable battery option, depending on the brand of the product, the device can last for a minimum of 1 hour continuously and a maximum of 4 hours. However, this does not mean that every massage session should last that long, so you should be very careful.
Depending on the muscle group and the way it is used, the massage time will vary from 15 seconds when used during training to relieve tension, 30 seconds when you want to warm up a part of the body and between one and two minutes for body cooling processes.
It is worth clarifying that this type of electric ball is recommended for individual use, unlike the percussion pistols which are designed in their professional model for a more intense and collective use.
The massagers that come with a 2-year warranty are more reliable, this varies depending on the manufacturer and distributor, but it is always recommended to purchase a product in which you are assured of the return of a product when there are problems in its operation, battery performance and intensity controls.
Having a high-end, heavy-duty product at your disposal is priceless. Having a professional electric ball ensures that there are lasting positive effects without damage to the fascia and musculature.
If you invest your money in a second-hand product, in the medium and long term there will be noticeable consequences on the skin and the muscular benefits will not be the same. Balls of dubious quality are extremely flexible, less resistant to pressure and when subjected to cleaning may be damaged in its operation.
How to use a vibrating massage ball correctly?
The phrase "pleasant pain" is widely used around the world because of the initial sensation people register when starting a myofascial massage.
If you are a beginner, there are some generalities to keep in mind:
- Work by zones: it is not advisable to work all parts of the body at the same time with this massaging product, you should always focus on specific areas of the body because after the session you will feel a natural tiredness and it is not advisable for this to be felt throughout the body.
- It offers a break: if you need to repeat the session, it should be after an hour of well-deserved rest and if you are going to do routines all week, take into account that there should be at least one day's break.
- Regulate the pressure: as this product offers vibrations, you can start the massages standing or sitting, depending on the part of the body. When you want to apply more pressure, use a wall to lean your body against the stimulating ball. Finally, lie down on the floor when you feel that your body can tolerate all the pressure.
- Respect the time of use: most of the injuries that people report from the use of electric balls are due to excessive use of this therapeutic implement, which is why we have left throughout this article a series of suggestions regarding the time of use of the massages.
- Use the product to avoid injury: when you manage to avoid injury, you are actually helping to increase the strength and endurance performance of your muscles. Staying inactive due to injury will only cause you to lose all the progress you have been making in training.
- Control pain: be aware that, although balls reduce the intensity of pain, they don't actually attack the source of the problem. They buy time for the body to recover and for other clinical treatments to take effect in the case of more serious injuries.
- It favours recovery: in addition to being a therapeutic treatment in the case of minor injuries, massages with massage balls work to give way to muscle reactivation when there is fatigue and tiredness after sports training. This is a fundamental part when you want to avoid discomfort that can become more complicated.
- Use as a relaxation: the only way to use the electric ball in a single session and on several parts of the body is when you use it as a stress reliever. The recommendation is to use the lowest frequency of vibrations and you can give one or two gentle strokes with your hands.