You may have seen them in the glass jar at the front of the gym or in fitness stores all over Mount Pleasant and Charleston…little orange and white rubber balls.  What are these colorful bouncy balls for and why are they EVERYWHERE?!?!?! 

Move over foam rollers!  This week we are talking about the AWESOME massaging power of Lacrosse Balls!!!

WHAT is so great about LAX Balls?

According to HealthLine, “Lacrosse balls can be used as a powerful massage device that can help relieve pain and improve function in sore muscles.

“Lacrosse ball massage is a form of self-myofascial release. Fascia, the thin sheath of connective tissue that covers all the muscles and organs of the body, is responsible for connecting muscle groups. When disrupted, it can cause pain and poor movement patterns.

Tight fascia can pull the body out of alignment and increase pressure on muscles and joints, causing pain. The goal of myofascial therapy is to stretch and loosen the fascia so the underlying tissue can move freely.”

So when you’re feeling tight and/or sore from a hard workout at the gym, these dense, concentrated balls of rubber can be used to free up that tight tissue.

HOW do I use a LAX Ball after my Workout?

Here are FIVE ways that our favorite experts recommend that you use an LAX ball to give yourself some tissue relief!

1. Soften your Shoulders

Shape Explains: “Positioning the ball in this area can be tricky, so place it in an old stocking or sock to give you more control. Stand tall with your back close to the wall. Hold the end of the stocking or sock with one hand and, allowing the ball to rest between you and the wall, position the ball directly over the stressed area. Press your back into the wall. You can rest the ball over the area or perform small circular motions until you start to feel relief.”

2. Give in to your Glutes

Runners World’s Matt McCue (no stranger to glute and hamstring challenges) recommends, “Another benefit to a lacrosse ball is that you can work out tight muscles without actually doing anything. I will often lie on my back and slide the ball under my glutes and lower back and roll around until I come across a sore spot. When I do, I let my body weight melt into the ball and allow the pressure to ease the muscle tension. I repeat this action two to three times for about 20 seconds each time. To get better leverage on my hamstrings, I like to sit in a dining room chair, place the ball under my legs and go through the same process.”

3. Free your Feet

Even if you aren’t an avid runner, spending time in the gym can wreak havoc on your peds.  Health Magazine has some LAX Ball tips to help: “Place the lacrosse ball on the ground. Stand on your right foot. Place your left foot—the ball of your left foot—on top of the ball. Put pressure and move back and forth. From here, you can go down toward you heel, over the arch, and over the side of the foot. Wherever you feel tension, focus on those areas, and make sure you do both feet.”

4. Hit your Hips

As LiveStrong points out, “Hip pain caused by trigger points can be easily treated by using a lacrosse ball. Lie on your side and place the ball under your hip. If your muscles are too tight, the ball cause too much pain at first. It may be easier to use a softer ball, such as a tennis ball or Hacky Sack, in the beginning, until your muscles become more relaxed. Locate painful points on your side hip and move your body around to massage and release these points.”  But LS experts Lucy Whyte Ferguson and Robert Gerwin advise that you should avoid the sciatic nerve to avoid worsening sciatic pain.

5. Quiet your Quads

While intense, nothing feels better than breaking up that charlie horse that forms after a heavy lifting session.  Well and Good explains how to give your self a post-gym release: “Lay on your right side and place the ball on the outer edge of your right quad in the center of the leg. From there, move the body so the ball is moving in a side-to-side, left-to-right motion. The goal is to let the ball sit in that muscle and massage it out. There’s a lot of real estate so you have a lot to work with—start by pinpointing the tightest spot.”