The Best Ways to Use a Ball to Work Out Knots in Your Back

Businessman massaging shoulder

While driving on the freeway, you realize that you can no longer turn around without pain. At some point during your busy day, you’ve developed a knot in your back. Unfortunately, there’s no time for a massage. While it’s generally best to leave these matters to a trained professional, there are some quick and easy ways to relieve tightness at home.

It's Knot What You Think

Muscle fibers are thin and resemble strands of hair. As you move throughout your day, they contract and expand. Much like necklaces that are lumped together, the muscle fibers eventually form knots. Oftentimes you can feel a distinct nodule right where the discomfort is located. Pressure on the area yields an ouch-ahhh reaction. Knots in the back tend to form in the low back or up high near the shoulders. The rib cage usually protects the mid-back region.

Sprawl with a Ball

If the knot is fairly large, your best bet is to use a larger ball. Look for a soccer ball, basketball or hard medicine ball. Ideally, your ball should have very little give. Start slowly and use your feet and arms in a crab-like position to give yourself more or less body weight force as needed. Roll the ball back and forth underneath you. If you find a particularly painful spot, pause and breathe. Hold that position for about 30 seconds or as long as you can stand it. Return to rolling the ball beneath you until you feel the area loosen.

Tennis Ball Magic

Medium sized balls are useful for smaller knots. Baseballs or tennis balls are good options because they are firm. You’ll use the same position as with the larger ball. If you need more intensity but the ball is the appropriate size, try positioning the ball directly over the knot and laying down. If your knot is in the lower back, the curvature of the spine can make it difficult to get enough pressure. In that case, hug your knees to your chest to exert more force onto the area.

Wane the Pain

Golf balls are the most intense. Because of their size, it’s nearly impossible to roll on them as you can with the larger balls. They most effectively target the smaller muscles in the upper back. Lay on the floor and position the golf ball underneath you. You may need to shift around a bit to get it directly underneath the knot. The sensation is likely to be acute. If you want to work the knot on an even deeper level, you can use your core to lift up and slowly move back and forth across the golf ball. Applying ice after massaging with a golf ball is recommended to prevent soreness.