Hard Will Not Release to Hard

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All over the internet I see references to rolling out sore muscles with a lacrosse ball, or even a golf ball. Yuck and ouch! Certainly everyone has had a sore muscle that they just wanted to dig into as hard as they possible. After all, a knot in a muscle can really drive a person crazy!

When you have a knot it may seem like a good idea to get something hard and really work out that knot. But even though it may feel great while you’re doing it, generally it only makes things worse. Your body may release the knot temporarily, but then the muscle tightens up even more in reaction. If you want to go deep, a better option would be a well trained massage therapist because they know how to prepare the tissue so the body doesn’t react badly.

In my experience, tension will not happily release to hard, heavy, or intense pressure from a hard object. Light pressure may be more successful, especially when applied consistently for several days.

So what to do if you don’t have a massage therapist on retainer? Try gentle self massage, a Franklin Method Ball, or Yamuna Body Rolling Ball. As with anything else in life, finding the right tool for the job makes all the difference.

Here are a few tips to try on your next knot:

  • Avoid rolling with a hard ball.  Instead, try a tennis ball, Franklin Ball, or Yamuna Ball, something with some give. This will distribute pressure more evenly in a muscle so you can address more of the muscle and are less likely to stress it out more.
  • Use light pressure so it almost doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything. If you are rolling your lower back, go especially gently on the areas to either side of the spine just  below the ribs. Your kidneys are there and they don’t like much pressure.
  • Instead of just going straight for that annoying spot, think about the surrounding musculature. Think about your muscle ache or soreness as a symptom that is part of a larger system. Muscles can also cross, work alongside, and rub up against each other, so it can be very helpful to massage the entire length of a muscle, its attachment points, the surrounding or supporting muscles, and even opposing muscles.

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Try these three motions to massage a muscle:

  1. Crossing the muscle perpendicular to the line or grain of the muscle
  2. Follow the line or grain of the muscle
  3. Apply direct pressure directly in and out at an angle perpendicular to the surface of the particular part of the body.
 
Listen to your body’s response to your self-massage. The next day, does the knot feel better or worse? If it feels worse don’t keep doing the same thing thinking it will produce a different result. Change your approach and/or consult a professional.

Ask a professional to give you some tips during your next massage. Perhaps your massage therapist can guide you towards understanding what works best with your body. Ask them for strategies for maintaining their work between massages.

 

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2 Comments on “Hard Will Not Release to Hard

  1. I totally agree. When clients ask if they should use a golf ball on their feet, I always say “No!!”. There has to be some give.
    Another benefit of an object that has some give is as it spreads out along your skin, it puts the connective tissue under tension and allows the fascia to release. Just pressing as hard as possible into an area with tight adhesions isn’t optimal.

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