A spiky massage ball may look rather strange – in fact, at first glance you might think it’s a dog toy, and Fido would probably love to dig his teeth in, but this ball is definitely not something you want your four-legged best friend to destroy, as it’s an incredible tool to relieve those tired, sore feet after a long day – and, much more.
The spiky massage ball was first created in Denmark in an attempt to help depressed psychiatric patients find a way out of their mental states using a stimulating massage. It’s a fairly simple design, made from a very durable plastic that’s covered with spikes that have rounded ends.
They come in a variety of sizes and are often used by massage therapists and physiotherapists for relieving muscle tightness. But they’re becoming increasingly popular for at home use too, allowing one to perform massages on themselves. The balls work by stimulating tissues that are directly beneath the skin. When used with calm, relaxed breathing, the spiky balls also help to relieve muscle tension.
Here’s a closer look at why you should roll your foot, or feet, over a spiky massage ball. It does a whole lot more than serve as your own personal foot massager!
1. Preventing foot and ankle injuries
A foot massage is great for relieving joint pain and aiding injury recovery as well as reducing muscle soreness. When massage is combined with foot and ankle strengthening exercise, it can help prevent an injury in the future while also speeding recovery of any existing injury. Just a short session, 3 to 5 times per week can help minimize the risk of injury by strengthening those important ankle and foot muscles.
2. Improving circulation
With so many of us leading sedentary lifestyles, stuck behind a desk, for example, our feet muscles don’t get the exercise they need, not to mention confining shoes, both of which contribute to impaired foot health. Rolling each foot over a spiky ball in a 10 to the 20-minute session just before bedtime can be a great way to boost circulation in your lower extremities as well as help you feel calmer so that you can fall asleep faster, and sleep better too.
3. Relieving headaches and migraines
A 2000 study out of Denmark found that individuals suffering from headaches and migraines experienced significant improvement after receiving reflexology treatments. The participants stopped taking their regular medication, and three months following completion of the treatments, 65 percent had decreased symptoms while some had no symptoms at all.
The Danish research resulted in 81 percent of patients reporting either being cured or experiencing relief as long as six months following the end of the study. Just to compare, the common drug used for migraines, Imitrex, has a 68 percent success rate – this research showed an 81 percent success rate using reflexology foot massage, yet it’s virtually unheard, the experts say.
The researchers asked, “Is it because reflexology cannot be patented and sold at high costs, making money for the drug companies? Is it because if enough migraine sufferers were to use reflexology to treat their headaches, drug companies may notice a decrease in the profits of their migraine medication? Is it because recognizing reflexology to be a viable alternative treatment for migraine headaches would mean that it might be necessary to recognize other forms of alternative therapies as viable treatments for treating other diseases?”
4. Lowering blood pressure
High blood pressure is far too common today – in fact, about 75 million American adults, or 1 in every 3, have high blood pressure, which can be caused by poor diet and/or stress, but often it results from genetics and environmental factors. Research published in 2013 in BMC Nursing and conducted on long-term healthcare staff who worked with elderly dementia patients, a job that’s physically and mentally taxing as well as rather stressful, discovered that a 10-minute foot massage session performed up to three times a week resulted in better mood, less anxiety, and lower blood pressure.
5. Reduces depression and anxiety symptoms
Foot massages are well known to put one in a very relaxed state, but they do a lot more than that. Frequent foot massage sessions have been found to dramatically lessen anxiety in cancer patients, and they’re also said to significantly reduce depression as well.
6. Decreases the pain of plantar fasciitis and flat feet
Chronic heel pain that often results from deterioration of the connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot, or the plantar fascia, can be significantly lessened through foot exercise and deep foot massage, including using a spiky ball to massage the feet and applying strong pressure to the arch. It can also help people who don’t have a normal foot arch due to ligament laxity, which causes the arch to collapse, resulting in what’s known as “flat feet.” While some people with this condition don’t experience pain, others suffer from pain even with just mild physical activity.
7. Reducing the effects of edema in pregnant women
Edema, or swelling in the feet and ankles due to fluid retention, is quite common in pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester. The effects can be reduced by using a spiky ball to massage the feet at least once a day, combined with rest and proper diet.
How To Use The Spiky Ball To Massage Your Feet
Now that you know why you should roll your foot over that spiky ball, here’s how to do it. There are actually a number of ways you can massage your feet with a spiky ball. You can sit in a chair and simply take turns rolling each foot over the ball in any direction you wish, apply as much or as little pressure as desired.
Another option is to stand upright while holding onto something for balance. Then, stand on one leg and gently move your foot on the ball for a wonderful, deep massage – a larger spiky ball is better for this purpose as you’ll have more control and stability. Aim to perform the massage for at least 30 seconds on each foot.
More Exercises To Try With Your Spiky Ball
You can use the ball for more than just your feet and ankles, here are a few other exercises to try:
Calf massage. To massage your calves, lie down on the floor and place the ball underneath them. Use your body to gently move the ball around. You can move it in any direction that’s comfortable and provides relief.
Glute massage. The glutes are especially prone to soreness and tightness since we use these muscles so frequently on a day-to-day basis. Giving them a massage using a large spiky ball can relieve both. Lie on the floor with your legs out in front of you and then place the ball underneath your glutes. Use your hands to stabilize yourself and then gently roll the ball for relief.
Shoulder massage. The shoulders are also prone to tension, especially when working at a desk all day. To massage them, lean against the wall and place a small spiky ball on the inside of your shoulder joint, near the end of your collarbone. Roll it gently across the pectoral region, moving side to side. Try to focus on specific areas of tightness as you find them, rolling the ball in a few different directions. You can do the same on the back of the shoulders, moving the ball from one shoulder to the other, across the back.
Where To Buy A Spiky Massage Ball
Spiky massage balls come in a range of sizes and are also available as both hard and soft. They are a remarkably affordable tool that can have profound benefits for those suffering tight muscles, dealing with pain associated with plantar fasciitis or simply for anyone looking to improve flexibility, circulation and improve high blood pressure.
This Therapists Choice Pack of 2 Spiky Massage Balls are the perfect option. They come in two different sizes, one is hard, the other soft and they are also the most affordable and best reviewed on Amazon. You can get them from here.