Runners Need Bigger Balls

Like many of you, I depend on my balls. The physical therapist requires a prescription, and the sports massage therapist is pricey, and neither one of them is at your house 24 hours a day. So, I rely on variety of self-massage tools to recuperate from muscle fatigue and tightness earned as a result of all those miles. The foam roller is an OK way to strip the big leg muscles, but cross-frictional massage or pressure point work on large or small muscles requires finer tools. A tennis ball is a decent way to start work on pressure points in and around what my wife calls “the ass-back,” (the muscles attached to the top of the sacro-iliac area.) Just put the tennis ball on the floor, lie down on top of it (nose toward the ceiling!), and work the knotted muscles and pressure points.

By dropping your weight on a tennis ball you can also find trigger points for your gluts (max, med).

Deeper muscles, like the piriformis or glut minimus, require something harder to get through the max and medius. A lacrosse ball is good for these harder-to-reach muscles.

But none of these works well for cross-frictional massage on the hamstrings. Even for skinny guys like me, there’s not enough diameter to get adequate pressure when seated on the floor with the leg across a tennis ball or lacrosse ball. I could tell I needed something larger to do the kneading. The only bigger massage ball I could find was made of foam, so it seemed too soft, and also cost $30. What to do? My wife came up with the solution: a regulation softball.

These are large enough that when you seat yourself on the floor and drop your leg atop one, they give you a good, firm pressure that you can use to work cross-friction on the muscle fibers by working your leg across the ball or use to push out knots by just lowering your weight on them.

Best of all, the price. A mere $10. For half a dozen of them. I see that on Amazon they’re going for $16 for 6 now, but since you will want one of these in your race bag, one for work, one for the TV room, one for the bedroom, they’re well worth the money. In fact, I would say you can skip the tennis and lacrosse balls entirely (Give them to your dog) and stick with the softballs.

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