by: Yuri Elkaim

Who doesn’t love a good massage? I can’t imagine there’s anyone who doesn’t, but I do know that not everyone can afford it on a regular basis. That’s where a massage ball comes in handy.

Though you may think of massage as a luxury, it’s something we should be treating ourselves with on a consistent basis. Every day we subject our bodies to overwork and stress, and massage is an important tool we can use to combat this.

[Related: DIY Muscle Relief Bath Bombs]

If you’re a regular gym-goer, massage is also an excellent workout recovery method.

Despite what you think, it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, if you know the right massage ball exercises, it’s absolutely free!

Amazed? Don’t be. Today, I’m going to show you how to use a massage ball to get the massage your tired, achy body has been craving.

How to Use a Massage Ball

1. Feet

The first step is to put the massage ball on the floor, right underneath the arch of your foot.

By rolling the massage ball underfoot and varying the body weight you apply to it, you’re going to work on your tendons and fascia.

Be sure to extend your toes to help get that mobility back through the entire length of your foot.

Remember: your feet are your first points of contact with the earth, and force is transmitted from your feet, up through your body. They’re such important appendages. Give them some love!

2. Calves

Roll up your pants, and roll the ball right up from your Achilles tendon and along your calves.

Work both the inside and outside of your calves. Be sure to work the massage ball into the back of your knee as well, as this tends to be a tight area for a lot of people, especially women who wear heels.

While you’re doing this, allow your foot to flex and point in all different directions. You’ll notice this affects the muscles running right up your leg. You want to massage them from all angles.

3. Hamstrings

With the massage ball still on the ground, roll your hamstrings over it.

If you’d like to add more resistance, cross your other leg over the top. This will drive more weight down onto the ball and allow you to get a deeper massage in this area which is thick with muscle fibers.

4. Glutes

Keep the massage ball rolling towards your buttocks. Like the hamstrings, this area is often filled with tension.

Work the massage ball deeply in to relieve this build-up of tension, much of which comes simply from sitting. Just do what feels right.

5. Hip Flexors

Turn over and do the same thing for your hip flexors. Open it all up.

With that, you’ve already given yourself a lower body massage. How do you feel?

[Related: The 30-Second Fix for Tight Hip Flexors]

6. Back

You’ll want to spend more time working on your back as there’s quite a bit of “geography” to cover.

Seek out any spots that are particularly tight, such as the lower back or your shoulder blades.

With the shoulder blades, extend your arms in different directions to expose the muscle underneath to the massage ball. This will ensure that you’re massage the muscles from multiple angles.

7. Neck

Keep the ball rolling right through to your neck, and go gently here, applying pressure as needed.

I bet this will make you groan the loudest. We store so much tension in our neck!

Here’s a tip: for more control, place the massage ball between your neck and a wall. This will allow you to massage your neck while standing. You can even repeat this for your back.

8. Arms

Once you’re finished with your back, put your massage ball to work on the entire length of your arms.

Work it right from your palms, all the way up through your fore arms and into your biceps.

You’ll be surprised how much tension you’ve built up in your arms, but it makes sense: after all, you’re often using them all day!

Choosing and Using Your Massage Ball

You can find special massage balls at athletic stores and online, but almost any harder ball with just a little give will do, really. At the bare minimum, you can resort to a tennis ball.

Also, don’t think that you need to give yourself a full-body massage every day. If you return home after a long day on your feet, take a few minutes to just massage your feet.

If your neck is stiff from working at your computer all day, give yourself a brief neck massage when you’re done.

Finally, when you have some time to spare, treat yourself to a full-body massage. Chances are you need it!

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Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.