The few hours of sleep, the crowded subway or long commute in the car, the endless hours sitting in an uncomfortable office chair looking at a computer screen… the hustle and bustle of everyday life can lead to problems with our back, neck, and knees. The problem with this kind of pain is that it can cause contractures, which are much harder to get rid of.
But there is something you can do about this and you only need one inexpensive item: tennis balls! Use them to do these simple exercises as often as possible and you might just be able to avoid a trip to the physiotherapist or chiropractor…
If you don’t have tennis balls at home, you can also use rubber balls (which should be hard, high density) or balls of a softer foam if the other ones cause you pain. Once you have the equipment, find a corner at home where you have enough space, lie down a mat, and start doing these exercises…
1. Back pain
To relieve pressure on your back muscles caused by poor sitting posture or standing all day, try the following exercise: lying down, place two tennis balls under your back lengthwise, between the tailbone and the ribs (careful not to place them directly under the spine!). Then move your hips on both sides, so that the balls roll down the back and massage it. If you want, you can put the balls in a sock so they don’t roll away.
Take deep breaths and repeat for five minutes. You’ll notice that the tension in that area is released and you feel much better.
2. Neck pain
After hours looking at the computer screen, neck pain is almost unavoidable. To relax the muscles in this area, lie on your back on the floor and place two tennis balls (preferably inside a bag or sock) at the base of your skull under your neck, so that your head rests on it. Hold the pose for one minute. Slowly nod for one minute, then move your head sideways as if you are shaking it to say no. Repeat this for one minute as well. Finally, move your head to one side, nod several times, move it to the other side and nod again. Keep switching back and forth for one to two minutes.
3. Hip problems
The pain in the hips usually appears when you wear uncomfortable shoes, for example heels, or when you sit for too long. To relieve the pain, lie on the floor, place the tennis ball under one side of the hip and use it as a support. Once you have found the balance, move your hip in a circular motion 12 times slowly in one direction and then in the other. When you finish, change the ball to the other hip and repeat.
4. Tight shoulders
Relieving tension in the shoulders is very simple: lie on your back on the floor and place a tennis ball behind one of your shoulders. Then begin to move your shoulder in all possible directions. Do this for three minutes on each side and you’ll notice that the muscles relax almost instantly.
5. Knee pain
If you notice that your knees hurt, this exercise will help you: in sitting position, bend one knee and place the ball on the back of it. Pull your leg so that you press the ball between your calf and thigh, as if trying to crush the ball, count to 10 and relax. Count to 10 and repeat it again 8 to 10 times. Then repeat with the other knee.
6. Tired feet
Foot pain is a very common pain that affects the whole body. To relieve it, place a ball under the arch of your foot, hold on to a chair to keep your balance and keep your heel on the floor, dropping your weight on it. Take deep breaths for 30 seconds to one minute. Then, slowly, move the foot from side to side so that the ball rolls along the arch of the foot. Repeat for one to two minutes. Then roll the ball from top to bottom, from the heel to the toe, for one to two minutes, and repeat the same exercise with the other foot.
7. Sore hands
Using the computer mouse on a daily basis is one of the main causes of having sore hands. Sitting on the floor, place one hand on a ball. Place your other hand on it to exert pressure, and “crush” the ball by dropping your weight on it. Stay in this position for one minute while breathing deeply. Then move the ball from side to side and then up and down, tracing the shape of an asterisk in the palm of your hand for two to three minutes. Repeat with the other hand.
Although tennis balls may initially be somewhat uncomfortable and hard, after performing these exercises, you’ll notice how your muscles are much more relaxed and you’ll be able to face everyday life with all the energy that it requires. Who would have thought that two tennis balls could do all that?
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