Alternative therapies

Back Pain Relief Using Tennis Ball Therapy

After using a tennis ball for back pain relief you may start to wonder why you spent so much on expensive therapies, massages, and pain medications. A simple tennis ball used as a massage device can help unravel knots in the neck and back and relieve tension and back pain. You might feel a little silly at first but persevere and with a little rolling around on the floor your back spasms might just melt away and remove the need to investigate back surgery.

How Tennis Ball Therapy Works

First things first, you will need a tennis ball – preferably a new one that hasn’t been chewed by the dog. Put the ball on the floor and lie down with the ball positioned underneath the most tender spot in your back. If this is too painful at first then put the tennis ball on the bed instead as this will reduce the pressure it exerts on your back when you lie down. Try to relax and you will find that, after a few minutes, the pressure of the ball has lessened. This is a good sign that your back muscles are relaxing and your back pain will be dissipating. You can then move the tennis ball to another tender spot in your back, if necessary, and repeat the process. Monitoring your breathing during this exercise can also help facilitate relaxation and reduce pain.

massage technique applying tennis balls for neck and shoulder pain relief

Why it Works

Tennis ball therapy for back pain relief relies on the principle that tense muscles and muscle spasms are caused by abnormal nerve firing. This constant muscle twitch results in metabolic waste in the muscle tissue which is not being removed fast enough and is, therefore, capable of causing stress in the muscles and subsequent degeneration and pain. Massaging the muscles helps get circulation flowing to remove these waste substances and molecules and is also thought to help inhibit the motor nerve to prevent muscle spasms from continuing. Breaking the cycle of the muscle spasm by giving the muscle a slight stretch can aid back pain relief and possibly strengthen the muscle for better stability in the spine. Many people find that tennis ball therapy is effective for sciatica relief and to reduce lower back pain and spasms.

massage technique applying tennis balls for back pain relief

Relieving Back Pain with Tennis Ball Therapy

Tennis ball therapy can also involve using the ball between your back and a wall or other object. However you decide to use the tennis ball the goal is to apply just enough pressure to the knotted muscles in the back to cause a strong sensation leading to release of tension but without irritating the back muscles and triggering intense pain. Achieving the right degree of pressure can be difficult at first but once you do, and once you have managed to relax, all you have to do is wait for the sensation to decrease to about three quarters of its original intensity. This may take a few seconds for some or minutes for really tense muscles to relax.

Does it Have to be a Tennis Ball?

Those with back pain from tension in the shoulders may wish to use a softer and smaller ball such as a squash ball rather than a tennis ball. You can also buy specialized massage balls but a tennis ball will usually be just as effective for this purpose. If you have a dog then you can even use a rubber Kong (once cleaned!) as a massage device for back pain relief. Expect some funny looks from your pooch though.

When Tennis Ball Therapy Can Help

Massaging the back with a tennis ball or similar toy can be an effective way to relieve muscle tension and achieve back pain relief without surgery. It is important to remember, however, that not all back pain is due to tense muscles and so it is wise to establish the cause of your back pain before self-treating. An irritated nerve in the spine from a bulging or herniated disc is unlikely to respond well to intense pressure from this kind of self-massage. The back pain relief achieved from tennis ball therapy is often short-lived but the effects may be prolonged by using gentle heat alongside the tennis ball massage and by doing back exercises after relieving the tension in each muscle knot. Those with many trigger spots may find that treating only a couple of the worst ones is most effective and that resting the muscles for a day afterwards also helps prolong the benefits of tennis ball therapy for back pain relief.

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