Feel Better: How to Use Massage Balls to Melt Tension Away

Feeling stiff, tweaked or just plain knotty? You’re ready to roll!

Woman massaging neck with massage balls against wall.
A dual-ended style targets either side of the spine for maximum pain relief.Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

Poor posture, limited movement and repeated strain can wreak havoc on the flexible network of connective tissue, or fascia, that hold muscles in place, leading to painful tightness and tenderness. Fortunately, even the toughest knots can be helped with easy-to-use massage balls. Consider these three tips before you get rolling.

Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls for Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Therapy, Muscle Knots, and Yoga Therapy. Set of 2 Firm Balls
Smaller size suitable for all areas of the body.Kieba

When using a massage ball, place it around the area you’re targeting and then roll using the pressure of your body weight. Heavier massage balls with solid construction will support your weight better than hollow or inflatable models. For ease of control, look for a smooth ball rather than a textured option.

TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball for Deep-Tissue Massage
Uniquely dense EVA surface for great grip.TriggerPoint Performance

Massage balls come in various degrees of firmness, which manufacturers typically measure on what’s called the Shore scale. Just as you would in any physical activity, start light with a softer ball. As your fascia becomes more flexible over time, you can consider graduating to a firmer massage ball. That said, you should always use a softer massage ball if you are rolling out an injury.

5BILLION Peanut Massage Ball - Double Lacrosse Massage Ball & Mobility Ball for Physical Therapy - Deep Tissue Massage Tool for Myofascial Release, Muscle Relaxer, Acupoint Massage
The shape perfectly straddles the spine.5BILLION FITNESS

Massage ball use can greatly reduce fascia pain, but it’s not an instant cure-all. For best results, physical and massage therapists recommend regular stretching and exercise and prioritizing movement and better posture throughout the day. If you spend most of your day sitting, consider taking a two-minute break every hour to stand up, move around and roll out stiffness.