Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Favorites: A Roller, a Ball and a Stick, Oh My! (Part 3 of 3)

Two weeks ago, I began a 3 part series documenting my favorite massage tools.  In Part One I reviewed "The Stick Travel Massager".  If you missed that post it is HERE.  Last week I reviewed "The Grid Foam Roller" by Trigger Point.  You can find that review HERE.

Part 3: "Massage Ball" by Trigger Point Review

(Before I begin, I'd like to point out that Trigger Point has a new, slightly larger, slightly harder massage ball - The X-Factor Massage Ball.  I have not tried this product, but I imagine that for my main purpose - glute/hip massage - it would be better suited.  I'm happy with the original ball, but if I were buying today... oh, who am I kidding.  I'd probably still get the original because $25 for a glorified tennis ball is ridiculous!)

 The original Massage Ball by Trigger Point Therapy

As I stated last week, I have a continuing problem with hip pain.  It moves from hip to hip and comes and goes both during running and afterward.  I've seen a couple of therapists and no one can pin it down.  Is it bursitis?  Problems with my gluteus medius?  Tendonitis?  IT Band issues?
Who knows???
But it hurts.  In fact, 2 months into my running adventure it brought me to my knees.  I could barely walk the pain was so bad. 
In the intervening months, I have become an expert on managing my own hip pain - and at this point I have discovered some things that are effective for me.  I am including them here because I was helped so much by other's experiences. 

A few weeks after my initial hip pain started, I had found two things that seemed to be working.  The first was the Grid Foam Roller, which I reviewed last week.

The other thing - a mini-miracle really - was a somatic exercise that I found online.

                      (Exercise content starts about 3 minutes in.)

When I tried this exercise, I found immediate relief of my hip pain.  I still do this release before every run and have been known to stop and do it in the middle of a run!  I did order one of her Essential Somatics DVDs and found it helpful.  I'll save that review for another time.

I do not now believe that I have IT band pain, but this exercise does seem to work for whatever I do have.

Anyway - in my never ending search for hip pain relief, I visited my local running store - Jacksonville Running Company.  You know - that store I can't seem to go into without handing over my savings acct. number!
I happened to mention my hip problem to one of the employees.  And he brought out this ... umm... glorified tennis ball.  Then he got down on the ugliest, nastiest rug and showed me one move with the ball.  It is the move my daughter demonstrated with the foam roller last week:
Except there is a ball under your butt instead of the roller.  The key to this move is to cross the leg of the hip you are working on over the leg you are balancing on.  This opens up the hip and allows you to work the ball deeper into the muscle.  Just roll around on it slowly until you find  the spot that hurts.  It is likely to hurt VERY MUCH - like an 8 on the 10 pt. pain scale hurt!  I usually find the spot, and then slowly lower my weight onto the ball until the pain is too much.  Then I hold that position until the pain starts to fade and allow a little more weight to press down into the ball.  Eventually, all of my weight is on the ball and the pain is mostly gone.  I then roll the ball around a bit and repeat on the other side.

Well, I got down on that nasty rug and tried this move - and walked out with a $20 ball.  Supposedly, this is better than an actual tennis ball because it is firmer.  I've not confirmed that, myself, but I do know that this one massage move is the most beneficial to my hip problem.  I NEVER run without doing this exercise first, and this ball is convenient to take with me to every run, race, whatever.

Supposedly, this ball can be used for all sorts of massage.  I have not done that.  I have only used it on my hip and the bottoms of my feet.  I prefer the Stick and the Grid Roller for massaging other areas.  However, even though I have made fun of the price, I do feel that this ball was worth every penny.  It has saved me from chiropractic visits and massages that would have cost much more. 

In conclusion, if you are suffering from hip or glute pain, I think this ball is worth a try.  If you are in need of deep tissue massage on hard to access parts of your body, this could be just the ticket.  But if you are looking for a general purpose massage tool, I'd stick with the rollers. 

And there you have it.  Reviews of my three favorite massage tools.  My 4th favorite is my husband - but he is hard to stuff in a gym bag :)

May you run happy today!