5 WAYS: … to Use a Lacrosse Ball
Whether you want to release tension in your back or get a
Recently, the lacrosse ball has rolled off the playing �ield and into your gym. A companion to the foam roller, this hard rubber ball makes an excellent tool for a number of reasons: It’s cheap, accessible and small enough to carry around in a gym bag. And, unlike rollers and wands, which apply pressure to a relatively large surface area, the lacrosse ball can be used in a targeted way to hit isolated areas.
Not sure where to start? Here are �ive ways you can use a lacrosse ball to improve mobility and performance while also relieving aches, pains and even insomnia.
1 PULL THE TRIGGER
Ideally, all the structures of the body — skin, bones, muscles and connective tissue — should slide easily over and around each other. But injury and repetitive movements create in�lammation in the soft tissues, causing the formation of adhesions, aka knots.
Although nothing breaks up a knot like the elbow of a well-trained massage therapist, a lacrosse ball and your own bodyweight can come pretty close. This technique, called selfmyofascial release, targets those trigger points, helping break up and loosen adhesions to improve mobility and decrease pain. Position the ball under the affected muscle and roll around until you �ind the tenderest spot. old here and use your bodyweight to press against the ball, relaxing and breathing deeply for 30 to 90 seconds.
2 RELEASE FOR ROM
Sometimes it’s not enough to smash a muscle into submission, especially when your aim is improved range of motion. In these instances, combining SMR with slow movement — otherwise called active release — can help. According to research published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, people with prolonged neck pain and stiffness were able to signi�icantly increase their range of motion with twice-weekly sessions of active release in only three weeks time.
To do active release, �ind the tender spot in your muscle and press your bodyweight into the ball, as with SMR. Hold that pressure as you move your limb through its full range of motion. For example, place a ball between the leg of a squat rack and your shoulder/ pec connection. Press into the ball as you move your arm up, down, side to side and around in a circle.
3 RELAX THE BACK
The back is a constant source of tension, and tightness here can affect your posture and performance in and out of the gym. Unfortunately, massaging the muscles on either side of your spine can be a tricky affair, since you can’t really roll a rock-hard rubber ball along the tender nubs of your spine.
Time to Macgyver it: Tape two lacrosse balls together into a peanut shape. Lie on the ground and place the balls under your back so your spine rests in the space between them. Roll up and down along the spine for 60 to 90 seconds after a workout, or after a long day of sitting.
4 SANDWICH AND SAY AHH
On Tuesday you crush your pullup workout; on Wednesday you can’t open a jar of pickles. Sound familiar? To relieve achy forearms and a fried grip, place one lacrosse ball on a table and position your forearm over the top of it, palm facing up. Place a second ball on the opposite side of the arm, so your arm is sandwiched in between the two balls, and use your free hand to press down �irmly. old the balls in place as you �lex, twist, turn and stretch your wrist for 30 to 90 seconds, then reposition the balls and repeat.
5 SLEEP SOUNDLY
You know you should prioritize rest and recovery, but sometimes it’s tough to turn off the lights (and your brain). Gentle SMR can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, decreasing your heart rate and relaxing your muscles as you enter “rest and digest” mode. While maintaining a passive, restful position (sitting or lying down), roll the ball gently over and underneath tense muscles, breathing deeply and letting your muscles relax and release for several minutes.