Something that I’ve always made excuses for is my flexibility, lack of stretching and recovery – I often blamed not having enough time to bother and always quote the school of those who don’t stretch properly before session on it potentially causing weaknesses to the area that you are stretching. I specifically remember hearing the great Floyd Mayweather saying he never stretched before exercise/training and thought, if it’s good enough for an elite athlete such as him, it’s good enough for me.
However, the older I’m getting, the more important I feel recovery and doing the utmost to look after my body and trying to improve on niggling injuries are. And, I have a few imbalances (like most people) within my physique namely, underdeveloped glutes, tight hamstrings and hips and poor range of movement in my shoulders (with a diagnosed trapped nerve here too, which, has caused discomfort for the last five or so years).
So, one of my targets this year (and last), has been to improve my recovery, flexibility and look after my body as much as I beat it up at the gym, to hopefully maximise any gains I may target and help my overall health and longevity. I know, it’s a long time coming, but, better late than never I guess! There have been three major purchases recently to help aid me with this: proper lifting shoes, two foam rollers (of different hardness levels) and today’s review, (a set of three) Trigger Point Massage Balls.
What are they?
Basically speaking, it is a hard ball with a softer exterior ranging in three differing hardness levels allowing for either mild, medium or firm massage to the selected target area. The purpose is to improve recovery, growth and flexibility of a target muscle by massaging the ball in the desired area, pressure and distort the muscle and scar tissue that has been built up within over a period, relieving stress on the muscle, stretching and drawing oxygen in. This (apparently) encourages growth and repair at a very layman level, and I will be the first to say I am no expert with this! The results I want, however, are stated above…
How does it work?
The idea behind the Trigger Point Balls is to mimic the pressure coming from a sport massage as best possible. Not unlike a foam roller, but here, we’re looking to further centre in on a particular area of a muscle. The areas I am trying to work on specifically are the muscles and joints around my hip (I’m finding that using one of the firmer balls to massage in my hip socket/joint are greatly helping my range of movement of my squat), glutes, shoulders and upper back (specifically around the areas I have discomfort). By using the weight of your own body to create the desired amount of pressure the Trigger Point balls activate and release tiny knots that develop in muscles through injury or overuse.
How I use them
I mainly use them pre and post exercise as part of my stretching routines (especially legs) and when I can of an evening or spare moment should I have a naughty bout of DOMS post workout.
To massage my glutes and lower back I start by simply sitting/lying on the floor or leaning against a wall on the ball in the desired target area; for the calves and thighs, I sit or lie on the floor whilst applying pressure on the ball with the weight of my lower extremities. To massage the shoulders and upper back, I stand with the ball between me and a wall to apply pressure or target my neck by applying the ball by hand.
- Used for both upper and lower body trigger point release
- 6cm diameter
- Red – hard. Orange – medium. Yellow – soft.
- Ideal for use before or after exercise
- Can be used in conjunction with a foam roller