Your Guide to Trigger Point Balls and Pain Relief
There is one question that gets asked countless times in my roll as a remedial therapist and as a sports trainer. ‘Lachlan, I’ve got a massage ball but I’m not sure what to do with it or what is most effective, generally I just find a sore spot and sit on that for a while’. Does this sound like you? Ive created this super simple quick guide that you can follow to get much more effective results!
In this guide I will show pictures of common trigger points in the body and their referred pain patterns. I will also accompany this with a picture of myself using the massage ball to give you an idea how to best ‘hit’ those areas!
Before We Start…
Well, you can use both. They both have their own advantages
Spikey ball: great for hitting a ‘general area’, so if you have a sore hip for example but cannot pin point the bad spots, the spikey ball is great to hit a lot of spots at once.
We will start on the lower body and finish with the shoulders.
If you want a very simple and effective way to increase your flexibility (standing and touching your toes) without even touching your hamstring, do all the leg ones in a sequence and then check how much more range of movement you created in that particular plane.
When would I do these: anytime you are in pain or often PRE-workout, creating blood flow to these areas makes for a much nicer workout, trust me!
Follow up with some mobility (worlds greatest stretch is my favourite to get the hips going (YouTube it)) and of course some activation sets (speaking of hips, zombie walks are super simple and effective for that area)
General rule: with each of these, roll the ball around until you find a sore spot, once you have located the sore spot, sit on it for about 5-10 seconds and then move onto the next one in that area. Depending on the area this can take a total of 30-120 seconds (don’t go overboard!)
Trust me, always start with the foot even if you don’t have general ‘foot issues’. You will thank me literally straight afterwards!
The soleus is the muscle underneath the Gastrocnemius (the muscle most people think is the only calf muscle). The soleus on average actually takes up 2/3rds of the overall size of your calf muscles. As it lies underneath your gastrocnemius, grow this and train this specifically (seated calf raises is a simple way) to create bulk underneath to push your gastroc closer to the surface creating a bigger more athletic look (tricks of the trade!). Share that with your buddies, or keep that secret to yourself!
As stated before the Gastrocnemius sits on top of the soleus and is the most visual part of the calf muscles. To train these specifically think of all your calf raise movements with your knees straight. Or become an athlete in a jumping or sprinting sport. Ever notice a basketball players legs?
The Glutes are made up of multiple muscles butt* (dead giveaway there) all are located in the same area. The glutes play a HUGE roll in every movement, they are also a leading cause of lower back pain and sciatic symptoms. Around 75% of my clients showing lower back pain it is caused by their glutes. Now using a massage ball on this area is also highly effective PRE-workout or movement. The blood flow to the area really helps open up the hips ready for movement!
Now I am only showing one upper body trigger point movement today as I find this is the most effective for using a massage ball. Some of the other areas it is so awkward to get into the right position or you are using your opposite arm to create the pressure which in turn is just causing you to tense up. This will make the use of the ball generally pointless in my opinion. Lets get into it.
The infra is one of the 4 muscles that create the shoulder rotator cuff. Now let me tell you, this muscle is a major player when it comes to shoulder, upper back and arm pain. This is a little different technique to all the other muscles listed above. I find the most effective way to release this muscle is to lie on the sore spot and then rotate your shoulder forwards and backwards (the positions shown in pictures).
DON’T GO OVERBOARD with this release, the infraspinatus can be quite sensitive so please take caution when doing this. Anybody who has had dry-needling to this area can generally tell you that it can even leave a ‘dead arm’ effect for an hour or more.
1. Find the spot
2. then lay on your side in that position
3. In that position, start to slowly rotate your forearm down forward towards the floor.
4. Then slowly rotate it back in the other direction