By: Chris Walker; ACSM- CPT and Christa Norgren; RYT 200 YACEP, CFES-GF, PT & Yoga Master Trainer – YogaFit
A massage ball is just that – a great massage without the expensive bill at the end! Every day we subject our bodies to overwork and stress. Massage is an effective tool that can be used to combat these effects and speed up the recovery process. Seen below, Oval personal trainers Christa Norgren and Chris Walker demonstrate a few of their favorite self-myofascial release (SMR) exercises. To get the full benefits, it’s recommended that each exercise be performed for up to 60 seconds. If this is your first time, go light or go for less time. These exercises are best done before a regular exercise routine, however, done afterwards as part of a cool-down or stretch also has its benefits.
1. Hip Extenders and Rotators – A.K.A “The Glutes”
In a seated position, place the ball under your right glute and cross your legs so that your right ankle is on your left knee. With your hand on the floor for support, lean to your right. Keeping your left foot and right hand planted on the floor, perform small movements back and forth and side to side on the ball for about 30-45 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
2. Hip Abductors – The Outside of the Hip
Laying on your side, bring your top leg to a bent position so that your foot is on the floor in front of you. Lift up your bottom hip and place the ball underneath. Using your hands and your foot that is on the floor, move the massage ball up and down the side of your thigh. It is best to roll slightly in front or behind the IT band (iliotibial band). This area may be tender in which case, adjust the intensity by off-loading more of your body weight into the arms and leg that is contact with the floor.
3. Mid Trapezius and Rhomboids – A.K.A “The Traps”
Place the ball between the spine and the vertical edge of the shoulder blade. Pull your arm and shoulder across the body. This will give a light stretch to the muscles as well as move the shoulder blade out of the way to expose the target area. Lean into the wall and slowly move up and down, focusing mostly on the upper portion of the mid-back. Take care to avoid rolling directly on the bones of the spine and shoulder blade.
4. Pec Minor – A.K.A “The Chest”
Position the ball horizontally along the chest at the point where the pectoral muscle meets the shoulder/arm. Keep the massage ball in place by leaning into a wall, making sure to hold your arm on that same side up and away from the body to expose the entire pectoral muscle. Gently apply pressure as you slowly move the ball horizontally across the pec. Be on the lookout for sore spots and bumps. You may feel the ball ‘pop’ across these tight spots, so move slowly and spend more time on those areas.
5. Hip Flexor
Position the massage ball in your hip ‘pocket’. This is the space where your leg and torso meet, just below and slightly in from your front hip bone. Rolling is somewhat limited with this exercise. Focus on finding tender spots and applying pressure, remembering to breathe through the tension (or ‘melting’). This is a delicate area and it’s hard to control how pressure is being applied. Be careful and avoid rolling on the hip bone.