Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Runners, grab your tennis balls!

In my post last Thursday, I mentioned that I sit on a tennis ball to help prevent and treat injuries. A few of you asked what in the world I was talking about and I realized that I should have gone into more detail so that a) you all wouldn't think I was one bizarre mama and b) you could enjoy the same (often painful) treatment!

The tennis ball thing is a self-massage technique (trigger point massage) that helps to break up the knots in your muscles that can cause pulling and injuries. I tend to get knots and related tightness in my right hip and butt and these can lead to pulling and soreness around my knee. When I feel any tightness creeping into my hip, I break out my tennis ball.

Here's what I do:

I sit on the floor with my legs extended, leaning on my right side (side of pain). Then, I place the tennis ball under my right hip, around the area where I'm experiencing the pain. I roll around until I feel the most painful area and then stop and allow my body to sink onto the tennis ball. This hurts! I try to stay on the painful area for as long as possible, but often have to release the area and move to another one before the pain has completely subsided. And it does subside. When you find a painful area to release, it will be painful at first and then the pain will gradually reduce. I usually have a few knots that need to be released and so I'll roll around for a bit, looking much like a wacko but knowing I'm saving myself from future injuries.

After I use the tennis ball, I stretch my legs and often give them a gentle rub-down with the foam roller.

Now, I am far from a doctor or specialist of any sort but I have read a bit on trigger points and lower body ailments common to runners and this technique is one that is often recommended. It works for me. I don't know all the science behind knots and trigger points and all that but I do know that since I started doing this I have had far fewer ITB and knee problems. And I'm all for that!

Good luck!

~ Felice

PS: It's National Running Day today. Get on out there!

22 comments:

Mel-2nd Chances said...

i use the Stick and a foam roller, but I bet the tennis ball would do the trick! Nice!

Denise said...

I use the foam roller and love it but I'll have to try the tennis ball. My hips have been feeling tight since I upped my mileage so much.

J said...

The tennis ball is really very helpful for preventing and healing injuries! I remember my mom used it for her foot problem she had a while back. Does the tennis ball work for knots in the back too?

lindsay said...

ok, so similar to my golf-ball-shoulder-massage technique. sounds good to me! it is painful, but it's such a gooood pain! will have to remember this next time i'm having a pain in the rear ;) har har.

I RUN LIKE A GIRL said...

I do this too!! And it works (but hurts)...

Have you ever tried "Goosebumps"? They have little knobs all over it but work in the same way. If you think a tennis ball is painful, try Goosebumps! :-)

Casey said...

Sounds like a great idea! A little pain is worth possibly preventing injury later on!

Marlene said...

Interesting! I always wondered about this tennis ball business. I often have hip and/or butt pain so maybe this will help (and have experienced ITBS in the past). Thanks!

Rookie on the Run said...

Thanks! I'll have to give this a try. :D

Diana said...

How awesome is that! Love it (especially that it's simple but better than using hands to try to work out weird knots) and my have to try.

X-Country2 said...

I love my tennis ball. It's small enough to take anywhere with me.

raulgonemobile said...

It's possible to have a "gentle rub-down" with a foam roller? Damn.. I can only imagine what the tennis ball feels like, then.

Maybe I'll have to try it when I'm feeling brave. :)

Janice {Run Far} said...

ouch.. but I am so going to try it. I had IT band really bad about 7 years ago on my right side and went through therapy for it... got much better... but the last couple of runs I have felt it from hip to knee... on both sides... thanks for the tip.

Quix said...

What a great idea, I'll have to grab some tennis balls! :)

Heather C said...

Never heard of this!! It's like a Martha Stewart tip for runners, haha niiice! I don't own tennis balls, but it sounds cheaper than paying for someone to rub their knuckles into me (aka a massage). ;) thanks for the tip!

Alisa said...

I'm all about the tennis balls!

HEATHER said...

sounds painful...but effective! I will have to try it, thanks for sharing!

I Run for Fun said...

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. Have you tried it for foot or achilles pain?

Marcy said...

Oooohhh I love me my tennis balls LOL.

Darn it! I wish the Valley Cats 5k was on Sunday because then I would've been there for sure. Are you ladies planning on doing any other races soon?

MizFit said...

please give me an award.
I RAN on NATL RUNNING DAY.

first
time
evah

:)

Middle-of-the-Pack Girl said...

I've used the Stick and a tennis ball before (for P.F.) but I have to admit, I've never thought of using it the way you do. Thanks for the tip!

Rich Poley said...

Tennis ball massage can be a is very effective way to massage your legs and feet. I've made a couple of videos showing tennis ball massage techniques, one for the glutes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-RHcAXULi0
and one for the feet:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PNq44z2bxg

I'm planning to do a whole series using tennis ball massage for running. Let me know if you're interested and I'll send you the links. Rich@SelfMassageForAthletes.com

Karena said...

Hi! Just came across your blog and I've been tempted to try the tennis ball for my occasionally achy hip/butt! I might try this out now that I know it's not totally crazy ;) Looking forward to reading more!

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