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Trigger Ball And Massage Ball

Some creative tips on using a massage ball or trigger ball to self-treat muscle knots and myofascial trigger points

A massage ball, also known as trigger ball, is a very simple yet handy tool that you can use in the self-management and self-treatment of two main problems: tight muscles and painful knots in your muscles, often known as trigger points.

I know we also have the foam rollers for muscle release, and though both are used for muscle and knot release, both have different approaches – the massage/trigger balls go in deep and focused, great for those small and hidden muscles deep under.

The foam rollers are great for bigger muscle groups such as the superficial back muscles, thighs and calves.

The basic idea of this massage / trigger ball self-treatment

The basic idea is to trap this ball between your body and something else, which is usually the floor, sometimes a wall, another body part (eg hand) and other creative solutions.

The therapeutic goals of this approach…

…is to create a release in the tight muscles and knots by applying the right amount of pressure at the right place – enough to relax it and do it some good, but not so much as to irritate the knot/muscle that causes it become inflamed.

What you should feel is a sensation that is strong and good, what we term as ‘good pain.’ If tears are running down your face, and your grimacing in pain, you need to be more gentle. You must be able to relax as you do this.

Once you’ve got the pressure and location right, try to relax as much as possible and wait for the ‘good pain to blow over’ to less than 80-90% from the original pain – this is the ‘release’ that I was referring to.

It’s a change of the soft tissue inside physiologically. Some people with very sensitive hands/body can actually ‘feel’ the knot/tightness dissolving and decreasing.

Some of the benefits include:

  • increases blood circulation
  • increases muscle, joints and fascia flexibility
  • restores normal length of muscles leading to regaining healthy posture
  • provide a sense of well being throughout the entire body

Where to massage with your trigger ball or massage ball

These massage and trigger balls are the most effective in the deep muscles of the back, hips and thighs. Some of the locations are quite difficult and maybe awkward for beginners, and sometimes you may find that it’s impossible to apply consistent good pressure, but with practice, it’d be ok.

So, lie down on one of them, and you can either place it exactly where is tight or tender and go straight to business, or you can just lie on it generally and slowly move your body such that the ball travels around, exploring until you hit a painful spot.

Like I mentioned above, the feeling and sensation should be strong and good, relieving and feels welcome – good pain.

Tips and tricks for longer lasting trigger point release

Trigger point massage may sometimes only provide short termed, temporary relief. Consider these basic tips and tricks to enhance their effects:

  • Don’t treat more than three knots or muscles at a go. Start with the worst ones, each lasting for about 60 – 75 seconds.
  • Use heat to relax the muscles before applying, and heat again after.
  • If possible, let the muscles relax and rest (don’t participate in strenuous activities)
  • After the session, gently stretch the muscles along its full length 2-3 times

Why trigger balls and massage balls work for trigger points

Tight muscles and trigger points is really muscle tissues that are tightly bound together into an irritating and tender spot.

The focal pressure inhibits the motor nerve and breaks the cycle of spasm as well as literally breaking down the tender spot and pushing the stagnant tissue fluids and by-products that aggravate the problem, out of the area.

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