Spikey Balls 102
Ok today we are looking at 4 more uses for your spikey ball. This follows up from our previous discussion, Spikey Balls 101, when we looked at basic ways your spikey ball can be used to relieve myofascial pain and improve joint range of movement.
Stand facing a wall, place your spikey ball over your chest. Lean into the wall so the ball is pressed up against your chest. Roll the ball over the pectorals (chest muscles or pecs) to find any trigger points (knots) in your muscle. Once you find a tender spot, hold the pressure on the spot until the muscles starts to relax and discomfort starts to subside, this may take 15 to 60 seconds. Otherwise, with the side of the chest you are applying the spikey ball, you might find moving that arm up and down the wall, in a waving motion, will provide you with added benefits as it moves the muscle through its range, this is often termed “myofascial release”. You can do this for 15 to 90 seconds provided it doesn’t cause pain.
Alternatively, you may find doing the same motion with the spikey ball but facing downwards laying flat on the floor, will allow you to increase the pressure being exerted onto the ball. You may find multiple trigger points in your pecs but be sure to not put excessive pressure on any boney surface otherwise you risk bruising or causing injury. Pectoral release has so many benefits. It is a great exercise to help improve your posture. Tight pecs will cause your shoulders to become rounded, which is seen a lot in people whose work requires them to have their hands in front of them for long periods of time, eg typists, drivers etc. It’s also seen in those at the gym who focus too much on heavy chest workouts without balancing their program with upper back work! By returning your shoulders to a more natural position, not only do you improve your shoulder range of movement but you reduce your risk of shoulder and neck pain. In addition, opening up your chest allows for more oxygen to enter the lungs, improving your aerobic capacity.
Quadratus Lumborum (QL) release
Standing with your back against the wall, place your spikey ball against the side of your lower back. Cross your arms in front of your chest and slowly slide your body up and down the wall, keeping the ball along the length of your muscle. You should feel the ball travel from the back of your pelvis up until the start of your ribs.
When you find a tender spot, lean and relax into the ball, holding the pressure on the spot until the muscles starts to relax and discomfort starts to subside, this may take 15 to 60 seconds. Otherwise, you can just roll the ball up and down the length of the muscle for 15 to 90 seconds provided it doesn’t cause pain. You may also bend your truck away from the wall to increase the intensity and add an extra stretch. QL release is often needed in those who spend long periods of the day sitting. Tight QL muscles can affect your lumbar range of motion and cause extra load to be placed on your lumbar discs, further increasing the risk of lower lack injury.
Hip Flexor release
Place the spikey ball under your hip flexors. These muscles are located at the front of your upper thigh and pelvis. Laying on the floor face down, and using your arms and legs, slowly move your body forwards and back over the ball. The spikey ball should be massaging your hip flexor as it runs up the front of your upper thigh and pelvis. You can continue this massage for 15-90 seconds, as long as it doesn’t cause pain. Again, if you find a tender spot in the hip flexor, you can hold it for 15-60 seconds or until the discomfort in the muscle subsides.
To apply extra stretch on the hip flexor, slowly bend your knee to 90 degrees, lift your thigh a couple of inches (still keeping the ball on your upper thigh/pelvis), then extend the leg back down. This release can be performed for up to 90 seconds, as long as it remains comfortable and doesn’t cause pain. Excessive tightness in our hip flexors can form due to prolonged sitting and is often seen in office workers and cyclists. Tight hip flexors can cause a number of biomechanical issues particularly affecting your lower back, hips, knees and hamstrings. Hip flexor release is a great injury prevention tool, especially for those runners and cyclists out there!
Iliotibial band (ITB) release
Start by laying on your side and place your spikey ball on the middle of your outer thigh. Using your arms and opposite leg, slowly move your body from side to side and up and down the length of your outer thigh. Make sure you keep the spikey ball away from the boney surfaces of your knee and hip otherwise you risk bruising or causing injury. You can continue this process for 15-90 seconds, provided it doesn’t cause pain. If you find a tender spot, you can hold the pressure on it for 15-60 seconds or until the discomfort subsides.
ITB release, although sometimes quite uncomfortable, is great way to prevent and manage hip and knee issues. Tightness in your ITB and lateral thigh is a common cause for anterior knee pain as it can cause an excessive lateral pull on your knee cap as the knee bends. Another common ITB issue, ITB friction syndrome, is often seen in runners and mainly caused by an extra tight ITB near its insertion onto the knee. This extra tightness in the ITB can cause increased rubbing and friction on the outside of your knee, leading to pain and inflammation.
NB – DO NOT USE a spikey ball…
- if you have had any recent injury or trauma
- over broken or bruised skin
- if you are taking any blood thinning medications
- if you suffer from peripheral vascular disease or any neuropathies
- if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis
If you are unsure whether you are safe to use a spikey ball, please consult you Physiotherapist or GP for more information. If you haven’t got one already, Revive Physiotherapy and Pilates have a great supply of good quality spikey balls at competitive prices!