A guide to self treatment
Self treatment is a wonderful (and simple) skill to develop. All you need is an object, a little gravity, and some patience.
Some treatments are really simple, like lying on a ball.
Others take some practice, like using a broom stick to release your neck and shoulders.
If it’s tricky and we’ve still chosen to include it - it’s going to feel amazing once you work it out.
Which massage ball?
Massage balls don’t need to be fancy. In fact, you can use just about anything. A tennis ball, a dog toy, whatever you’ve got lying around the house. It’s worth collecting a few balls: soft, firm, spikey. Just poke your head into a discount store next time you pass, and grab what you’re missing.
As you develop your practice, you’ll notice that some days you prefer a firm ball, and others you’ll prefer a softer touch. It might be the exact same spot, but our sensitivity can change from week to week.
How do I find the right spot?
Simple! Give yourself permission to experiment. If it doesn’t feel like much is happening, shift your body slightly. Even 5mm can be the difference between not feeling anything, and feeling a whole lot!
Trust your body - anything too sharp or uncomfortable, shift again. Your body will tell you when it doesn’t want pressure somewhere. If you do find a particularly sharp sensation in a muscle, it doesn’t hurt to place the ball near, but not directly on, the area itself.
How long should I hold it for?
Personally, I think 60+ seconds per spot is great. It needs to be long enough for your body (and nervous system) to relax into the position. You’ll also notice a natural analgesic effect, where the longer you hold it, the less painful it is. Eventually it won't feel like much is happening, and that’s your cue to find a new spot. On the other hand, if it’s getting more and more uncomfortable the longer you hold it, that’s your sign to shift position.
Rather than time each spot, I’d suggest putting aside 5-10 minutes for a self treatment. Maybe a few spots in your middle back, a couple in your hip, and some time with your feet. Some you’ll want to hold longer than others, while some don’t feel like they’re doing much. That’s totally ok - this is your time to spend as you please.
When should I use a spikey ball?
When we filmed BodyGuide, we used a smooth ball for all the videos. I’d meant to bring a spikey ball (mostly for the foot self massage) but forgot to take one on the day of the shoot! Spikey balls are ok to use anywhere in the body - but often a little too uncomfortable.
For feet however, they’re worth the discomfort! As you lean your weight onto the ball, the ball (and it’s spikes) will compress. As you hold the position, your foot eventually starts to relax. This gives the ball a chance to expand a little, which allows all those little spikes to fight back. As they start to expand, they start to stretch and stimulate the lining of your foot. You might even notice some mild shaking in your leg. This is natural, and nothing to worry about.
Treating your feet, to treat the rest.
Your feet don’t work in isolation - in fact they have a huge influence on the rest of your body. From balance, to alignment, to muscle imbalances, your feet can both help and hinder the rest of your body.
You can experience this connection yourself. Before you try the spikey ball with your feet, bend over slowly and try to touch your toes. Notice how far you get, and any tension in your legs. Don’t force it.
Then complete your self treatment. Do each foot 3 x 30 seconds. Then take a moment to touch your toes again. For most people, they’ll be able to reach an extra inch or two. This is a great example of how much your feet affect the rest of your body.
I strongly recommend foot self treatment before exercising. Your feet are your foundation - it’s worth waking them up before you start to train.
Self treatments to try:
My favourite movements to compliment a self treatment session:
Combine the above for 10-15 minutes once or twice a week, and you’ll quickly notice your reaching for the massage ball because you enjoy it - not because you need it.
Happy moving y’all!