Let’s face it, if you are constantly battling chronic pain, the chances are you won’t be able to do the exercises you need to do to keep yourself fit and healthy. So in this article, we are going to look at one of the simplest and most versatile tools to alleviate these symptoms, the lacrosse ball. We will also explore some of our favourite techniques for self-massage and trigger point or Myofascial release.
- 1 Muscle Knots and Trigger Point Release
- 2 Why a Lacrosse Ball?
- 3 Myofascial Release Self Massage Technique
- 4 Key Areas of your Body to Target for Trigger Point Release
- 5 Myofascial Release for your Triceps
- 6 Summary
Muscle Knots and Trigger Point Release
When people say that they have “muscle knots”, or the more technical term “myofascial trigger points”, there are no actual knots involved, but it sure feels like it! So what is a muscle knot then?
There is still some debate about what they are exactly, but the general consensus is that a small patch of muscle is so tightly contracted it spasms, throttling its own blood supply. This leads to a build-up of lactic acid which irritates it even more. This vicious cycle called a “metabolic crisis”.
These are different to a “Charlie Horse” as it is a very localised issue, whereas a Charlie Horse is a total muscle spasm.
A few trigger points here and there are annoying, but they can build up, eventually resulting in myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).
Trigger Points are usually a painful feeling, but they can generate some odd sensations such as numbness, dizziness, migraine, and pain in other areas of the body. In some cases the pain can be acute, causing more pain than most people believe possible.
Why a Lacrosse Ball?
A lacrosse ball is a hard, typically rubber, ball that measures 6cm across. While it was originally created for the game Lacrosse (who knew!) it turns out that this also makes it an extremely versatile device for self-massage (click here to buy our Lacrosse Ball on Amazon).
Many people like foam rollers, and these are also excellent tools for self-massage. However, these are more like a shotgun compared to the sniper rifle that is a lacrosse ball. So if you have a general area that needs treating, foam rollers do a good job, but they do not let you really get in and work the specific areas that are causing you problems.
Of course, you can also use a tennis ball, but these are much softer. So while these hurt a lot less for a beginner, over time it just is not as effective. Believe us, it does not take long to adapt and once you get used to the lacrosse ball, you’ll just stick to the lacrosse ball.
Myofascial Release Self Massage Technique
On the subject of technique, the process is pretty similar for each trigger point. The aim is to find a spot of tightness and work into it until it loosens. This will be hard at first but gradually becomes easier.
Once the tenderness has subsided you simply move the lacrosse ball around a little more until you find the next spot of tightness. Do this until you have covered the entire trigger point area.
I also like to alternate the side I work on as well as the order I do them in to ensure an equal amount of work is done on each area. For example, I will alternate between doing the left and right first, depending on the day, and I also alter the order I work the body parts in. For example one day I may start with feet, the next with glutes.
Key Areas of your Body to Target for Trigger Point Release
The human body evolved to be active, but today’s lifestyle of long periods in front of a monitor or TV followed by bursts of activity at the gym or playing sports puts a large strain on it. This can be very harmful, but with some diligence and a Lacrosse Ball, you can go a long way towards mitigating these effects.
Gluteus Medius Myofascial Release Technique
So what I want to focus on first is the Glute Med, or “Gluteus Medius” which is the top of your butt- the top part on the side. What I like to do is I roll toward the top of the butt and then go to the side and right there for me is the tender spot. I don’t know if you can see, but it’s basically just below where your belt goes, the top of your hip. And once you find the tender spot you can just stay there breathe, relax, don’t constantly roll back and forth. You don’t have to always just roll back and forth. Just relax in this area you can do this while you’re watching TV. I like to listen to music. Anyway once you feel like you’ve got the top of the butt down, the glute medius area good
Gluteus Maximus Myofascial Release Technique
Move lower and you will find your the Gluteus Maximus, often just called the “Glutes”. I like to roll around this area and explore this area a lot and because it’s a very large muscle so there is a lot of to cover. I like to move around, and stop wherever it feels tender, tight or just like I should just focus there.
If you move lower to this area it’s the hamstrings. There’s a special way to get the hamstrings with the lacrosse ball and we’re going to discuss that next.
Myofascial Release for Hamstrings
To get the hamstrings you just need to sit on a counter any hard surface like a kitchen or bathroom counter top.
Hamstrings are under the back of your thigh, so put the lacrosse ball underneath your thigh. There. Because your leg is dangling, the weight of your leg is going to be pressing down onto those muscles.
Then straighten and bend your knees repeatedly. You’re constantly lengthening and shortening your muscles and it breaks up the knots in there. Once you feel that it’s not as tender anymore, move the ball an inch or two left, right, back or forward until you find another tender spot..
Your body weight can be enough pressure but, if not, lean forward to apply more pressure. If this is still not enough you can put one arm or both arms onto your leg and push down for a really deep massage.
Trigger Point Release for your Feet
Now to use the lacrosse ball on your feet you need to hold on to something stable. If you just roll the lacrosse ball under your feet without holding on to anything you can’t fully relax your feet over it. So hold on to something. It makes it safer and it makes it more effective.
Now roll your feet over the ball, adjusting the pressure as required and work it into any areas of tightness or tenderness. Make sure you have done both feet equally well by changing the sequence ie do your right foot first one day and your left the next.
Myofascial Release for your Calves
The main muscles in your calves are the gastrocnemius and the soleus. These muscles are responsible for flexion of the foot and stabilization of the knee and the ankle. If you do a lot of running or walking, especially up hills, cycling or even wearing heels, these can soon get knotted up.
If your calf muscles do get tight the pain does not always show up in the calf itself, it can often be felt elsewhere such as the Achilles, the bottom of the foot or the heel.
For people with very tight calves this can be a very uncomfortable release, but the benefits are huge. So the first step is to take a seat on the floor and get relaxed. Next extend one leg and place the lacrosse ball right in the belly of the of the calf. This is the Gastrocnemius.
From here, move around until you find a tender spot and increase the pressure on it. If you cannot apply enough pressure, you can bring your other foot or ankle across the leg.
Start by finding the tender areas around the belly of the calf. Go from the outside to the inside and explore. Once you have got those loosened up, travel downward toward the soleus. The soleus is located underneath the gastrocnemius, so you may find you need some extra pressure in certain places.
If you are somebody that has a hard time keeping your knees behind your toes when you squat, it could be that your calves are too tight (along with your hamstrings) If this is the case, some myofascial release of your calves and hamstrings can help massively.
Working your calves with a Lacrosse ball is also a very great release for people that have Achilles problems, plantar fasciitis pain and even if you get Charley horses and other cramps at night.
Trigger Point Release for your Upper Back
For the upper back my favourite way of doing it is by just putting the ball up here behind my back alright. Now I pinned my body against the lacrosse ball and I just roll up and down by just bending my knees and straightening them back and forth. And this feels great and you’ll find knots all around maybe. It’s really great for getting the trap.
Myofascial Release for your Triceps
Couple other things you could do against the wall is to focus on your triceps. These are the muscles opposite to the biceps and so I like to just roll back and forth like. It works really. And just like the hamstrings, you can straighten and bend them.
Trigger Point Release for Deltoids
Another thing you can do is do it against your deltoids. There’s not a lot of working space here obviously so the ball can slip out very easily, but it does work well and you could get this part the front and your chest and the back as well to get it all around including the chest.You just got to make love to the wall.
If you pretend this is the floor you can lay on your back and just this as well but it’s not as easy to go up and down when you’re lying on the floor. So what you can do is you can like find a spot and then just stay there and just breathe and let the area relax around it. That’s another great option.
For a lot of these things you can do them against the wall or on the floor like I showed you for the glutes. You can also do that against the wall, but I personally like to do that on the floor. Everyone is different just experiment. Alright guys it’s the end of the video thanks for watching please remember to subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already and yes that’s about it give this video a thumbs up and I’ll see you next time.