You won’t eliminate tight muscles with a tennis ball, but you might loosen things up.
Using nothing more than a ball, Kelly Starrett helps an athlete at CrossFit Santa Cruz do a little maintenance on her lower body—one of the areas that’s usually tight in CrossFitters used to compound movements.
By placing the ball beneath the muscle and rolling to release tension, athletes can work on the external rotators of the hip, the hamstrings, quads and just about anything else that’s tight.
“There’s no rules about treating myofascial dysfunction or these shortened tissues,” Starrett says. “Find a place that’s restricted—hopefully it’s not on a nerve. If something goes tingly, stop. See if you can reposition. Otherwise, treat yourself until it starts to resolve.”
By treating yourself on a daily basis, you can make great changes to your body over time. Get into a routine of rolling for 15-20 minutes per day and you can loosen up your body, speed recovery and move toward improved performance.
Starrett is the owner of San Francisco CrossFit and a doctor of physical therapy.
Additional reading: Muscle Damage and Soreness: An Overview by Tony Webster, published Nov. 5, 2008.