There are two types of mobilization balls that one can use for self massage, pressure-point balls and elongation balls. Whereas they both utilize the body’s weight to achieve steady direct pressure, their purpose is slightly different.
The first is the most obvious – pressure point balls.
These are usually harder and smaller than elongation balls. Clients often use tennis balls, lacrosse balls and sometimes bowling balls to apply direct pressure to some of the tighter, more restricted areas of the body. These are great tools to address trigger points in the upper back and along the spine. They also help to alleviate pain and referral patterns in the hips and lumbar spine.
One very useful tool – is a sock with two tennis balls inside. Push the balls all the way to the bottom of the sock and then tie it off so the balls are securely held together. Place this on the floor and gently lie your thoracic spine over the balls with the spineous process in the groove between the two balls. Allow the balls to mobilize the spine toward the ceiling while the rest of the body molds around this mild extension. Another option is to then sweep your arms up and down like ‘snow-angels’ to access different lines of stress through the arms into the core.
The second kind of mobilization ball – elongation balls.
These are usually a little larger – softball to volleyball size. They are also generally a little soft. When you pick the up they may not feel very ‘massage-like’. The beauty of this kind of ball is felt when you drape your body over them. They allow you to focus elongationinto a very specific area of the body. They essentially act as stability points to the body. They allow you to then ‘drag’ the body away from those stability points and provide a specific stretch to the tissue around the ball. Sometimes you can use two balls to create very dynamic angles of movement and elongation in the tissue. These are great to use around stiff joints, like the Sacro-Illiac Joints of the low back and the A/O Joint of the upper neck. They are also very effective at aiding mobility of the scapulas in their relationship the ribcage.