Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what a lacrosse ball looks like: it’s slightly smaller than a tennis ball and made of solid rubber, weighing about twice as much.
These qualities helped people discover it as a more durable alternative to the tennis balls many people have been rolling over to break up muscular knots and tension caused by overuse, poor posture or emotional stress when they can’t get to a masseuse.
Lacrosse balls can be purchased at many sporting goods stores as well as online, and they aren’t likely to collapse or become misshapen after a few days or weeks of use, as a tennis ball can. They’re similar in construction to foam rollers and provide the same level of deep-tissue massage, their size making it much easier to target and iron out specific trouble spots.
Try these moves with your ball or balls to knead out the kinks cramping your style.
For low back pain
Lie on your back with your knees bent and place the ball just off to the right or left of your spine. Use your elbows to elevate your hips slightly so you can move yourself back and forth and in a small circle to massage the area.
You can try dropping your knee on the same side of your body as the ball for a deeper release of the muscle. Do 30 to 60 seconds and repeat on the other side.
For your hips
Loosen up your deep lateral rotator muscle group by placing the ball under the lower, mid and upper glutes, which can be done by either lying on your back or sitting on the ball, stopping to target different sore spots.
For your neck
Many physical therapists recommend using two attached lacrosse balls for these muscles — “peanut” massage balls can be purchased or you can duct-tape two regular balls together.
Lie down on the floor and place the balls at the bottom of your skull, holding where the soft tissue is located. You can move back and forth on the balls if that isn’t painful.