Tennis Ball Therapy

I woke up the other night and my right arm had fallen asleep and was numb and burning. I tried to move around to get it to release but it was hanging in there. I realized that my whole neck shoulders and arms were tight. Can you relate? Do you feel creaky sometimes and wonder who you will ever feel flexible and graceful again?

I thought, I really need a good massage, and maybe even the chiropractor. Although these are great ideas, they weren’t going to help me alleviate the pain and get back to sleep now. So, I decided on tennis ball therapy. Actually, that night it was soft rubber ball therapy. I keep a little ball in my dresser right next to the bed for this very reason. The bed is a great place to do this therapy especially at night because you are already there. If you have a partner in bed with you, you may not have quite as much latitude to move around and sigh with relief, but it still works.

How to do it

Lay on your back and use the bed to give you just the right amount of resistance. You want the pressure to “hurt good,” so adjust accordingly. I start with my neck on the side that feels tighter and use a combination of moving the ball with my other hand back and forth across the neck muscles that run alongside the spine. This cross friction helps open the fibers up. Move from under your skull downwards. Stop at places that are particularly tight and breathe with them for a moment, inviting them to open. As with all these kinds of recommendations, DO NOT cause yourself “hurts bad” pain, and check with your health care practitioner if you have a special condition to consider.

If your arm has fallen asleep, move the ball down your forearm. Get into the tension that is just below your elbow. Get the area above your wrist on the back and under side of your forearm. As a side benefit, the area below your elbow also helps boost immunity according to Japanese acupuncture.

Then move down your upper back and between your shoulder blades. See if you can roll the ball over the top of your shoulders in the tension there. You must use your hands to help with that. In this therapy, creativity is the key. Any way that you can move, stop, breath and apply pressure will get you where you want to go. AVOID putting pressure directly on your spine. But you can go right next to it.

Now feel the difference between the side you worked on and the other side. You’ll probably notice it feels more smooth, alive, and even longer than the other side. Switch sides if you haven’t fallen back to sleep yet and enjoy. Heat can be nice after this if you are still awake. Use a heating pad or warm pack to your upper back and arm if that feels good. To help with sleep, take a few moments to enjoy the lovely sensations you’ve created. Let your mind feel calmer, safer, and smoother. Back to sweet dreams . . .

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