Hunching at the computer screen, slouching in your chair and sleeping on the sofa are instances of modern day effects that cause pain in the neck and the back. Exercises with a soft tennis ball are ideal to relieve muscles. The best part is they can all be done alone, without seeking help from anyone else. To do these exercises, you just need a mat or a blanket. Here are a few of those.
The two-ball lower back massage
This massage is recommended for the entire back. You will need two old tennis balls because the new ones are harder. You will also need a sock. Slip the two balls into the sock keeping them close to each other, ensuring that the balls almost touch each other. Sew the sock to seal the balls within. Lie down on your back on a mat or some other firm surface. Place the two balls at your lower back such that there is one on each side of the spine. Relax, breathe deeply and gently roll the balls along. Do this for about 10 minutes daily to get complete relief to the lower back.
Single ball lower back massage
This self-massage exercise is simple, which gently massages the muscles of the lower back. Apart from relieving stiffness and pain, it also relaxes stress in the muscles in the lower back. To perform this, lie down on the floor on your back. Now, slowly insert the tennis ball under your lower back. Bend your legs and ensure that your feet are planted completely on the ground. Now, rock your hips to the left and right over the tennis ball. Practice it for about 25 times twice a day.
The wall and ball back massage
To experience the magic of this massage, find a plain and straight wall that is at least taller than your height. With your feet close to each other, stand at a distance of about 4 inches from the wall. Now, place the tennis ball along your lower back and lean against the wall. Gently start moving downwards into a squatting pose. As this happens, the ball moves up along the spine. Align the ball properly to move against all the ‘sweet spots’. Rock your body either up and down or to the sides. This will help to remove tightness and knots in your back, relieving the stiffness in your back.
Neck and shoulder massage
It has been found that as the tennis ball moves over the muscles, it creates an enhancing effect on the blood circulation to that region. As the shoulder and neck muscles almost come in a single line, and so can be massaged together. Lie down on a carpeted floor or on a mat spread on the floor. Place the tennis ball under the muscles of the right shoulder (make sure this is the region between the neck and the ball). Now, slowly shake side to side to move the tennis ball to the complementary position, under the muscles of the left shoulder. Continue to shake for about 25 cycles to completely relax and rejuvenate the neck and shoulder muscles.
Single shoulder massage
This is another variant of the shoulder massage which can be done in a standing position. Find a corner or a heavy beam so that you can place the ball between a shoulder and the wall. Your body will have to bend sideways in the direction of the muscles you want to massage. Now move back and forth and let the tennis ball move in gentle circles. Do the same for the other shoulder also.
This is a gentle massage that you can do with your hands. Take a tennis ball in your right hand. Place the ball on the nape of your neck. Balance the ball between the neck and your palm. Apply a little pressure with your palm and move the ball in gentle circles. Extend the massage area beyond the neck as well. If your right hand tires, continue with the left hand. Do this for about 5-10 minutes, or till you feel that your neck is becoming softer.
Dual ball neck and shoulder massage
This is a variant of the previous neck massage that we examined. The difference is that this is done with the use of two tennis balls holding one in each hand. Place them on the nape of your neck and gently rotate along the nape and shoulders. This is a wholesome massage for the entire neck and the shoulders at the same time.
The indirect back massage
Muscles of the buttocks play an important role in the health of the muscles of the lower back. If the muscles of the glutes are tired, there seem to be a greater stress on the lower back. Get a chair with arms and a flat seat and place two tennis balls on it. Taking support of the arms, sit with half your weight on the balls and gently rotate your hips. The balls should move all around and along your buttocks. Do this for about 2-3 minutes to notice a difference in your muscles.
Multiple ball massage
This massage is sure to relax your entire back. Take four tennis balls and put them into a sock. Seal the mouth of the sock with a rubber band or simply stitch it up. Now, place the sock with the balls under your lower back. The balls must be lined parallel to your hips. Supporting your body on your bent legs and head on a pillow, move the body back and forth so that the balls massage your entire back.