- What are trigger points and why do they appear in myofascial tissue?
- Types of trigger point massage balls: Which are the best and most effective?
- What are the best exercises to use massage balls to treat trigger point pain?
- What alternative products to massage balls are effective in relieving trigger points?
With myofascial massage balls, ischaemic compression is achieved which reduces the limitations in muscle movement associated with muscle contractures in areas known as trigger points.
These points can be present in the myofascial tissue and musculature, so before starting therapy, the area to be treated must first be detected and stimulated with gentle pressure to avoid further damage to the connective tissues.
What are trigger points and why do they appear in myofascial tissue?
The human body has trigger points and activation points, the latter are stimulated to bring relief to the tissues in that area and reduce pain in a nearby area connected to it, for example, treating areas of the back to calm migraine headaches.
Both types of points are caused by overwork, either from physical or sporting activities, which leave the muscles exhausted and with contractures. These points are caused by working all day in front of a computer, being on your feet and by an adjustment of sports training.
Types of trigger point massage balls: Which are the best and most effective?
- Lacrosse balls: this product comes as a stand-alone product and in a pack of various sizes, this is usually the best option to buy because you can vary the intensity of the massage to your liking, depending on the points you want to release. You should start with the softer balls to prepare the musculature.
- Balls with spikes: they are usually made of highly flexible material, which adapts to the silhouette in different parts of the body, they are not exclusive to the back, but they have a great positive effect on it. With the spikes you have more depth in each massage.
- Peanut-shaped balls: they are great for stimulating all the muscles near the spine without touching the bones, which should not receive this type of stimulation with pressure. With the massager, problems are solved from the lumbar to the cervical area.
- Vibrating balls: these are for more domestic use because all you have to do is turn on the product and place it with your hand on the place where you feel the most stiffness, although you can also use it as if it were a Lacrosse ball, on the floor or leaning your body against the wall.
- Foam roller: although it is not a massage ball, it is also a product that serves to stimulate myofascial tissue and massage trigger points. They cover a larger area than massage balls, but are less effective in tight areas.
What are the best exercises to use massage balls to treat trigger point pain?
Neck and neck exercises
- Always lie flat on the floor or a solid surface.
- Place the massage ball on the back of the neck, under the base of the skull.
- Gently roll your head from side to side.
- Avoid contact with the bones.
- If you feel a hard area, hold that position with light pressure for 30 seconds.
- This routine can be done for two minutes.
Exercises for the chest
- The area where it has the greatest effect is the hips.
- Lie on the ball and on the side where there is stiffness.
- Support your body with your forearm to regulate the pressure.
- Place your upper leg in front of you.
- The massage ball should be between your body and the floor.
- Move your hip in several directions to release the knot.
- Hold the same position for 30 seconds where you find a hard muscular part.
Back and lumbar exercises
- In this area it is preferable to use the peanut-shaped ball.
- Place the ball between your body and the floor.
- Start the gentle pressure from the end of the back and the beginning of the hip.
- The movements should be forward and backward.
- If you are using a Lacrosse or spiked ball, you can make lateral movements.
- Reposition the ball to stimulate another level of the lower back.
- Remember to breathe slowly at all times.
Exercises for the feet and legs
- You should stimulate both the quadriceps and hamstrings (front and back of the thigh).
- Place the ball on both parts separately.
- Perform smooth forward and backward glides.
- Keep pressure where there is the most stiffness.
- Remember to do this routine on both sides of the leg for two minutes.
- The pressure on the trigger points should be no longer than 30 seconds.
- For the feet, you should only step on the softest ball.
- Try to make gentle movements in all directions.
- As the arch of the foot is sensitive, you should not apply too much pressure.
What alternative products to massage balls are effective in relieving trigger points?
- Acupressure mats: based on the principles of acupuncture, one of the techniques of traditional Chinese medicine. They offer myofascial relaxation, muscle relief and increased blood circulation.
- Massage Hook: Great for pressure stimulation of trigger points along the back and shoulders, they are designed to allow people to safely perform self-massage.
- Foot massage rollers: These are used to relieve tension in the tissues of the sole and forefoot and have a relieving effect on plantar fasciitis. These products can also be used on the Achilles tendon and forearm.
- Hand-held massagers: these were the first portable massagers to become known, as well as being affordable. They work to relax trigger points anywhere on the body, with no restrictions on how long they can be used.
- Muscle massage gun: works to inhibit pain receptors in muscle areas where there are minor injuries. Its relief effect is transient, but effective at the time of applying percussion massages.
- Foam roller: this is a versatile product that can be used anywhere on the body for myofascial release and to relax tense muscles due to intense physical activity. Its daily use prevents possible physical injuries due to muscle fatigue.
- Electric foot massagers: with this type of product you stimulate blood circulation and regulate body temperature, so people have the benefits of heat therapy when you want to treat chronic injuries and poorly healed over time.
- Vibrating electric massage ball: these are for more domestic use, providing uniform stimulation of the myofascial tissue. These products are most effective when quick and lasting relief is required for minor injuries such as contractures and muscle fatigue.