If you suffer from neck pain and headaches, go to the backyard and grab the tennis ball… I can show you how to get rid of your pain today.
If you are a regular on Laurens Fitness then you will know the benefits of using a tennis ball to massage away your problems. This wonderfully cheap object can act as your own personal massage therapist. Not only is is cost free, you can do it wherever you want, whenever you want and as often as you want… without extra charges!
We all know how good we feel after getting those trigger points and tight neck muscles released, and now you have a tool that helps you reduce and get rid of your pain.
Absolutely. Most people suffer from neck pain and headaches thanks to poor posture. Stressful situations and daily life often means being hunched over a computer, moving your head a lot, working at a desk all day and even subconsciously tensing your shoulders during stressful situations. This almost always leads to the muscles of your upper shoulders and neck to tighten up, develop trigger points, and start to cause some pretty nasty muscle imbalances. Often your pain can be fixed my simply releasing these muscles.
The two muscles we are going to target with the tennis ball are the trapezius and the levator scapulae. These two are very easily accessible with a tennis ball and don’t require you to get into crazy positions to achieve the release. We are going for simple and doable solutions, and these muscles are definitely two that you need to target.
The trapezius is a really big muscle that covers your upper back. You will best know it as the bulge on either side of your neck, but it goes a little deeper than that. It’s divided into three areas, the upper, middle and lower.
We will focus on the upper trapezius in regards to neck pain. This area helps you to tilt your head back and look up, as well as turns your head to either side and shrug your shoulders. When you get tight and suffer from trigger points in this area the pain is referred up the neck and into the head. In extreme cases it can even shoot up through the head and concentrate in the temple and behind your eye. As you can see, this is a very important muscle to work on if you suffer from headaches.
The trapezius is tight in a lot of people, and its easy to see why. Shrug your shoulders now and feel how they tighten up. When you are stressed you are often tensing these muscles. Likewise they are working often during the day, and if you suffer from bad posture then you are exacerbating the problem further.
This muscle works to elevate your shoulder blade, it attaches onto the neck and the shoulder blade.
It helps with neck rotation and can get trigger points and tight very easily. Most people suffer from problems in their levator scapulae and don’t notice it. The pain from the trigger points in this muscle refer to the bottom of the neck and will experience a stiff feeling. Often it is hard to turn your head to either side. You will notice people with problems in this muscle turning around completely to check whats going on behind them.
If you are constantly in a head forward posture, your levator scapulae is always on stretch and actively trying to resist the posture. First you need to release the adhesions and trigger points in the muscle, but make sure you address your postural issues as well. This means actively working to be in good posture, but also releasing muscles at the front of your body which are pulling your head down constantly. This forward head posture is not always the cause of tightness in the area. Other common situations that can cause the levator scap to produce trigger points is using a computer and turning to one side constantly. Carrying a heavy purse on one side of the body. Sleeping with your neck in a tilted position. Constantly in a chair with high arm rests… the list goes on.
Now the juicy part. You will need a tennis ball. Nothing else. We’ll start with the trapezius.
Lay down on the floor and relax your neck and head. Place the tennis ball directly under that large bulge next to your neck we spoke about before. Slowly move your body around and find sore points. When you hit one you will know. Make sure you take a deep breath and release as you place more pressure on the area. When you find one, hold it for 30 seconds or until you feel a release. Remember this is all about exploring the muscle and finding your sore points, so don’t be shy.
Now for the levator scapulae. Remember the anatomy picture before and remember it’s position. I want you to start on where the muscle attaches to the shoulder blade, this is where a lot of adhesions and trigger points lie. Stick your hand around your back and feel for that sharp point. The top inside corner of your shoulder blade.
Put the tennis ball just above this, and it is your starting position.
When releasing this muscle I find it best to work against the wall as you are able to put a better downward pressure on that point. Put your feet about a foot away from the wall, and push up and backward into the tennis ball. If you have a t shirt on it won’t budge or run up the wall at all. If you find a point hold it for 30 seconds or until you feel a release, but make sure you explore the area. Move upwards along the muscle and give yourself a deep tissue massage in the area. The most common trigger point is at the corner of the shoulder blade, and that’s why I advise you to start there.
Keep working hard, trigger points and tight muscles take time to correct and release. make sure you work every day on the area. If you liked this post and found it helpful, then you are a good candidate for The Ultimate Self Massage Guide, check it out here. I wrote this ebook with many other examples on how to release your body with just a tennis ball and a foam roller. What you see here has only skimmed the surface. Be sure to check it out and keep your whole body pain free by yourself.