In today’s article, I want to spend some time on the tennis ball massage. I have heard from many of you about the difficulty you are having with the tennis ball. Some complain they are not feeling anything, some say they cannot get the same result as I do with my hands, and finally, there is some confusion of how to actually use it. So, let’s take each of these to, hopefully, help you get better results.
1- How to use the tennis ball for softening your muscles.
There are many professionals out there who will tell to lie on the ball on the floor or sit on the ball in a hard chair. There are reasons I do not suggest these to you. First, it will hurt like heck and secondly, it is not about the pressure. It is about releasing the tension. I know that most of you have seen people and trainers in gyms rolling on a ball or foam roller. There is no real therapeutic advantage with this. Keep in mind they are not giving their brains the opportunity to relax and release the muscle. They are working on pure pressure but the brain will only fight back. The more pain you create the more the brain will contract the muscle to stop the pain.
The goal here is to use the ball only as a tool to show the brain what area is tender, or tight. Once you locate an area that is tender, inhale, stay on the spot, maintain the pressure, breathe out, and allow the muscle to relax. Sometimes it may take two or three breaths depending on how tight the muscle is. This is a spot-by-spot procedure. I know it is not as fun as rolling around on the ball, but what is your goal, to have fun or stop the pain?
2- I am not feeling anything
This is strictly a feeling exercise. You must take the time to test each spot for a few seconds and get to know your body. Think about this. Your body is probably the only body you get to touch, other than maybe your spouse or significant other. However, you have very little to compare your body to, so this is a learning process. For me I see six to ten people a day, so that is a lot of bodies to touch and compare. Give yourself some time to learn what your body should feel like. This means you are probably starting out hard and tender and once you get the body to begin to release, you will feel a difference. Some people say they feel the blood rushing down their leg or arm, others say they feel tingly, and some will say they feel free. Remember it takes time.
3- I can’t get the same results that Butch does
Understood, but remember I have better leverage and I touch enough bodies to know how to touch your body and coach you to relax your brain. When you are doing this yourself, you must find the spot, you must remember to breathe, and I am not there to help you. It takes practice and time. Think about the first time you did anything that you are now good at. I bet you were not as good as you are now and probably a little scared you might have done something wrong. This works the same way. The reason you need to come see me, from time to time is the leverage I can get that you cannot.
The key here is to relax and practice. The more you do this the better you will get. This is why I tell you to do it often, even several times a day if you need it. You will become successful.
In using my technique, you are allowing the brain to release the muscles versus the brute force that you see in many gyms and physical therapy. It takes practice, but once you get it, and you will, your body will feel more energized and vibrant.
Stretching is more about feeling the muscles letting go than forcing them to stretch. If you are forcing the muscle, you could be doing strength training, not stretching. Make sure you are feeling the intended muscle stretching. If not, the form could be wrong. Holding for 5 seconds allows the brain to release the muscle before it senses any danger. Repeating the stretches 10 times allows the brain to learn it is safe for the muscle to move that way.
Best Flexible Shoes for your Feet
Some of you have ask about where to get the shoes I wear. Click the link below to order your own pair of Xero shoes!
Don’t forget the Tennis Ball Massage!
Softening your hips and back is easy when you use the tennis ball. Just lean against the wall and apply enough pressure to feel the painful area. The temptation is to press harder, but resist it. Instead, breathe out and allow the muscle to soften under the ball. Then move to another spot and repeat. Continue doing this until most of the painful spots are gone. Check out previous newsletters to see the video.