Do you feel stiff at the office? Does your back hurt from sitting in a chair all day? What about your shoulders? Are they sore from hunching over a computer? We have good news for you. With just a tennis ball, you can stretch and knead your sore, knotted muscles. Working overtime and not having time to get to the gym are no longer excuses for wallowing in pain. These are exercises you can do at your desk.
Tennis balls have long been used as props by everyone from yoga teachers to bodybuilders. Massage therapists and surgeons also recommend the green fuzzy ball to help soothe muscles and treat chronic pain. There are hundreds of ways to use a tennis ball to improve your mind and body. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Stiff knees. Sit in your office chair and raise one leg so your foot is resting with knee bent on the edge of the chair. Put the tennis ball behind your bent knee, keeping it as close to the side of the knee as possible. Squeeze your muscles against the ball. Hold for 10 seconds and then relax your muscles for another count of 10. Repeat eight to 10 times and then repeat with the other leg. Prevention says this exercise is an internal stretch that helps release stiffness in the knees.
2. Tight hamstrings. My Five Minute Yoga says simply rolling a tennis ball under your foot, from toe to heel, can have a magical effect on tight hamstrings. Doing this regularly will make your feet more relaxed and your hamstrings more flexible.
3. Middle back pain. When you sit in a chair all day, your back muscles grow weak. To combat the pain that can manifest in the middle back, place a tennis ball directly where you are experiencing pain and lean into it while you are in your desk chair. Roll your body up and down and side to side. Snappy Living recommends leaving the ball in place as you continue to work. By the end of the day, you may realize the tension has disappeared.
4. Upper back tension. Sitting hunched over a desk all day can lead to painful knots in the back. In an article for The Guardian, massage therapist Trevor Chisman spoke about the power of a simple exercise. Stand against a wall and place a tennis ball between your spine and right shoulder blade. Move your body up and down for a few minutes and then switch to the left shoulder blade. You may notice immediate improvements.
5. Thigh tension. Chisman told The Guardian that the same exercise technique for relieving back tension can be used on the thighs. Sit on a table with your thighs on the tabletop and the rest of your legs hanging over the edge. Set the ball under one thigh and then straighten your leg. As you do, the ball should move up and down the muscle. Repeat on the other side.
6. Poor posture. To improve your posture, Try Thai Yoga Massage recommends placing two tennis balls alongside your spine near the bottom of your shoulder blades and resting your back against the tennis balls. This will naturally straighten your spine and move your shoulder blades back into a natural position.
7. Clenched jaw. If you notice yourself clenching your jaw in the daytime or if you wake in the morning with a sore jaw, then you may benefit from a facial massage. Snappy Living recommends holding the ball up to your face and pressing it against your jaw and other areas where you hold tension.
Each of these home remedies can work wonders on tight, sore muscles. If you are really in need of a release, lie on the floor with a tennis ball underneath your back. Roll around on it so it covers every surface of your back, from your neck down to your tailbone. Continue to roll it all over your body. Don't neglect one part of your arms, hands, buttocks, legs and feet.
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