The humble tennis ball is probably one of the best self-massage tools you can get your hands on, you can use it pretty much anywhere on the body from feet to neck and it is simple and effective.

There are also a number of specialist self-massage balls on the market in varies sizes, textures and colours but they tend to cost far more that a simple tennis ball. Saying that, if you can get your hands on a good spiky self-massage ball it has the benefit of added sensory input to the nervous system and a little bit of drag to the skin layers whilst you’re work which is also beneficial.

Using the tennis ball

The basic idea of tennis ball massage is to trap the ball between your body and something else, this is usually either the floor or a wall.

The goal of the tennis ball massage is to achieve a feeling of ‘release’ or ‘softening’ of the tissue in the area you’re working by applying just the right amount of pressure for a sustained period of time. The sensation or feeling you’re after should be satisfying, not painful or sore. If you’re gritting your teeth or holding your breath you’re using way too much pressure, ease off, you need to be able to relax too.

An element of drag on the skin is also helpful if possible, sometimes this will be easier to achieve than others, but it really helps.

You should hold the pressure in place for at least 2 minutes if not 3 or 4, keeping the pressure gentle but sustained and the sensation satisfying but not sore.

The tennis ball really comes in to its own when treating hard to reach areas such as the hips and back, but you can use it anywhere, it’s great for the feet too.

The relief gained from using the tennis ball can last from several hours to several days and sometimes longer, if you find the tennis ball isn’t giving you lasting relief it is worth visiting a theapist for some hands-on treatment.

Here are a few tips that will help to make the tennis ball more effective.

  • Only deal with a couple of areas at a time
  • Have a hot shower or bath, or use a hot water bottle to heat the area first
  • Try to avoid excessive physical exertion straight afterwards
  • Try to keep moving gentle and dynamically afterwards