Ever see a dancer using a spiky ball on her feet, glutes or back? Ever wonder what the heck she's doing? Today's "Wellness Wednesday" post is all about those beautiful, spiky, magical tools and what you should do with them! Read on for more information...
When Allegro added both the Superior Stretch Firm and Soft Spiky Massage Balls, our staff rejoiced. It was about time! Sure, to some they might look like tiny spiky torture devices, but most of us who have been dancing professionally have had them for years, have taken classes in college about them, and know the benefits of using massage balls.
Spiky balls are a popular tool for self-therapy on muscle conditions (tightness, soreness,
etc). They most importantly improve blood flow and reduce muscle tension. By targeting trigger points, Spiky Balls can reduce pain levels and improve range of motion through specific muscles and subsequently improve joint motion.
Kim, a member of our Barrington team and a teacher in the Chicagoland area, likes this tool because it helps bring body awareness to her students when they use them. "Its cool for a dancer to complain of tightness in their rotators, target their piriformis with the spiky ball and feel almost instant relief. They can not only warm themselves up properly, but they also learn that different muscles are connected!"
HOW TO USE YOUR SPIKY BALL
- Choose the proper firmness for your exercise, body weight and threshold. The firm ball is firm and may be too intense for young, very thin or weak dancers. It can be great, however, for larger muscle groups, advanced dancers or those who have used massage balls before. The soft ball is great for those new to massage balls, recovering from injuries or those looking for a low-intensity, recovery-based massage.
- You can simply sit or lay on your Spiky Massage Ball and you use your body weight to apply pressure to a tight muscle.
- By using pressure and specific movements you can encourage the Spiky Ball to really target those deep trouble-spots and also encourage your muscles to relax (Relaxing is key! Take deep breaths and go slowly at first until you get used to it.)
Allegro's Favorite Ways to Use A Spiky Ball
- FEET! Your feet get sore no matter what genre of dance you practice. Try this: stand with your feet in parallel, flat on the floor. Take a mental inventory of how they feel. Are they sore? Cramped? Tight? Now, take a spiky ball and put it under the ball of one foot. Put your weight into it so your foot can really relax over the ball. Rest here for a few seconds, then roll the ball around under your foot for a bit, moving from heel to toes. When you're done, step flat on the floor and notices the difference between your feet. Does the one you just worked feel flatter and more released into the floor? Magic, right? Repeat on the other foot.
- PECS AND SHOULDER BLADES - this one really can be painful, so we suggest the soft ball (plus, you won't be applying as much weight on the ball for this one). Try it on the wall first. For shoulder blades and upper back (think your port de bras muscles!), back up flat against the wall and slide the ball in behind you. Roll the ball around on your upper back. For pecs, do the same thing, except you'll face the wall. Position the ball beneath your collar bone, toward the inside of your armpit, slightly lower than your shoulder. (your pecs get sore also from port de bras and from partnering/lifting).
- GLUTES - the nice way of saying, "your butt." Let's face it friends, that's a pretty big muscle group for most of us and it. gets. sore. When your glutes are tight, your rotators, hamstrings and psoas (among many, many, more) can be affected. This translates to turnout muscles, anything where you lift your leg, and your stabilizing side hurt. This is personal favorite massage ball area to target. Lie on your back with your legs bent, feet in parallel and flat on the floor (even when you stretch you should have proper technique). Slide the ball under your butt and gently roll over the ball until you find a trigger point. Trust us -- you'll know when you've found it. To increase the pressure, turnout the leg you're working on, letting the knee drop to the floor. Rinse, repeat.
- CALVES - Because this can be a harder area to access, sometimes the firm ball is better because it is bigger. Put the ball under the meaty part of your calf and go to town.
Do you have other ways you like to use your spiky ball? Let us know! Comment below, tag us on Instagram & Facebook or send us a Snap!
**Allegro does not advise using your Spiky Ball in lieu of seeing a medical professional, if you have a recent injury or trauma which has broken the skin, caused inflammation of a joint, or if you are badly bruised. If in doubt, always ask your doctor.