Can tennis balls help back pain? - Tennis Review

Can tennis balls help back pain?

Ah, the humble tennis ball

Best buddy to the common muscle knot!

EXCERPT This article is an excerpt from’s ridiculously detailed tutorial about trigger point (muscle knot) self-treatment, which contains more detail about the bath trick, as well as hundreds of other basic and advanced tips and tricks.

One of my clients was recently describing an experience she’d had with an orthopedic specialist:

“He didn’t know about using tennis balls for massage! He asked what helped my back pain, and I told him I always lie on a tennis ball. He looked at me like he was going to refer me to a psychiatrist! How can an orthopedic surgeon not know about the tennis ball thing? Doesn’t everyone know about the tennis ball thing?”

Even rocks can make good self-massage tools!Unfortunately, no: not everyone knows about the tennis ball thing. But it is one of the most time-honoured simple solutions for chronic muscle aches and pains, running a close second to “the hot tub thing.”

Indeed, a tennis ball is simply a handy tool that you can use in the self-treatment of knots in your muscles, technically known as trigger points. Too many trigger points is known as myofascial pain syndrome.1 In this basic article, I serve up some fun tips on how to use a tennis ball and similar tools to relieve knots in your muscles.

Squash balls are softer and smaller than tennis balls, which makes them ideal for massaging some hard-to-reach spots, like the back of the shoulder.The basic idea of tennis ball massage

The basic idea of tennis ball massage, or any massage with any kind of ball, is simply to trap the ball between your body and something else: usually the floor, sometimes a wall, another body part, and a few other creative options.

Everything else is a variation on this theme!

The therapeutic goals of tennis ball massage

The goal of tennis ball massage is to achieve a “release” by applying just the right amount of pressure: enough to do some good, but not enough to irritate the knot. The sensation should be clear and strong and satisfying, what we call “good pain.” If you are wincing or gritting your teeth, you need to be more gentle. You need to be able to relax.

The Kong dog toy is an amazingly good self-massage tool!Once you have adjusted yourself to achieve the right pressure, relax as much as possible and wait for the sensation to fade to about eighty percent of the original intensity. This is the “release” — a change in the physiological state of the tissues, or a “melting” of the knot. This can take anywhere from ten seconds to several minutes.

Does it have to be a tennis ball? Not hardly! Other massage tools for trigger point release …

Remember, if you use the Symptom Checker at don’t assume that all pain is completely muscular. Pain has many different causes; always have a qualified practitioner rule out other disorders.

There are, of course, countless self-massage tools on the market: balls of every description, sticks and widgets, rollers and thumpers, wooden thumbs, and on and on.

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