Here I discuss why I always have a lacrosse ball close by and why you should do too!
We are sure you have seen at least one of the thousands of self-massage devices available. Whether it’s a foam roller, spikey ball or knobbly stick you can be sure that you can easily find an array of devices there to help you stay in peak physical condition.
My verdict, I love them all! You only need to look in the corner of our Orpington clinic to know that I see a lot of benefit in the use of massage tools. Those of you who have been treated by me will know that I am a fan of what we term IAM (Instrument Assisted Massage). However, this does require specialist training. So my discussion point today, if I could recommend only one piece of kit for you to help, what would it be?
What is the best piece of self massage kit?
Firstly, they all have their benefits and advantages. However, my ‘go to’ product for muscle release is a lacrosse ball. The cheapest of all self-massage equipment (no this isn’t because I am tight!). My reasoning behind choosing a lacrosse ball is that it provides the density required to apply pressure to the muscle tissue but is also small enough to provide localised pressure to the areas required. The fact that it is a ball means that it can also be moved easily throughout the tissue. The ball is also small so can be easily transported, a great thing to have at your desk at work!
How should I use it?
People often ask me in clinic how should I roll the muscle tissue? I think this is a very important question and it is vital to remember the purpose and what we are trying to achieve.
When using any form of rolling device (lacrosse ball, foam roller, massage stick), we are striving to relax the muscle tissue and allow for a long-term reduction in soreness and overall increases in flexibility.
I believe the best use of a roller to be is to target specific areas of muscle that have become damaged. We commonly term these areas ‘trigger points’. By applying a pressure to these trigger points they can be relaxed and receive an increased blood supply to help to return to normal state.
We can use the ball to find these localised areas of soreness and apply the pressure. The trigger point should be held for ten to thirty seconds until a relaxation or ‘numbing’ effect is felt. The ball can then be moved on to find the next victim (I mean trigger point!).
Can I use anything else other than a lacrosse ball?
Yes certainly. A hockey ball or cricket ball are great tools! A golf ball can also work. However, I tend to find a golf ball is a little tricky to hold in position (I have tried!). Another potential item is a tennis ball. However, I personally find that these a little ‘squidgy’ a little and don’t apply the pressure required.
What areas can I use the lacrosse ball on?
The lacrosse ball is a very versatile piece of kit so can be used on most parts of the body. However, we do have some favourite areas for its use.
The Glutes-our biggest and most powerful muscle. However, so commonly the cause for problems. Put simply, issues with these ‘powerhouses’ and the smaller muscles become overworked. If you have trigger points in your glutes-they need removing!! Try sitting on a lacrosse ball, you will soon find them.
Plantarfascitis-pain on the base of the foot. The plantarfascia is a piece of tissue. It is not a muscle and therefore we are unable to stretch it by conventional means. Up steps the lacrosse ball! Apply a downward pressure with your foot on to the ball and use the ball to roll the tissue. You will not thank me at first for this tip but it really helps to reduce any pain on the base of the foot.
Forearms (tennis/golfers) elbow. Using a lacrosse ball and rolling it into the forearm can help to locate the trigger points that are causing that elbow pain.
The use of the lacrosse ball is not exclusive to these areas. Be creative! Remember, the lacrosse ball adopts the tough love method! You will not thank it at first but we are confident you will always turn to it in times of need and will quickly form a beautiful friendship.
Should I Throw Away My Foam Roller?
NO!! We do not want a message to be misunderstood. We love foam rollers, massage sticks and all of the devices. The lacrosse ball does have its limitations. For one, it is small. As a result, the larger foam roller works well on large areas of muscle tissue such as the hamstrings.
Choosing one was a tough task. However, if I had to state my favourite self-massage tool, it has to be the lacrosse ball.
Interested in how to use the lacrosse ball for your needs?
At your next appointment, why not discuss with your Therapist. We have hockey balls available to purchase for just £5. A must for anyone looking to keep the muscles in prime condition!