Friday, November 14, 2014

Having a Ball

One of the best ways to maximize the training effect from your workout happens to be the best way to maximize recovery.  A proper warm up session of light intensity stretching or easy aerobic activity primes the muscles so you have a more effective workout and lessen the chances of injury.

Conversely, once muscles are worked from a long workout session, they are fatigued and have several small micro tears that need to be repaired in order to be ready for the next bout of activity.  Muscles also tend to tighten up after strenuous activity and releasing these muscle fibers to a relaxed state will make the recovery process much quicker.

Traditional recovery has been in the form of light stretching and deep tissue massage. While one can stretch on their own, deep tissue massage is time consuming, expensive and requires, well, a second set of hands.  While foam rollers are very good for self-massage, they don’t always allow you to really work those sore spots or “knots” that so frequently cause discomfort and reduce the intensity and effectiveness of the next workout.

I have found a softball and or baseball to be one of the most highly effective recovery tools available to anyone who exercises. The hard density and circular construction make it the perfect vehicle for working out those hard knots or sore spots and those hard to reach places such as the psoas and where the muscle heads connect between your calves and hamstrings, and hamstrings and butt.

Another benefit to a softball or baseball 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.

In order to get full benefit from your softball or baseball, take some time to do some easy self-massage or go to a massage therapist for a Swedish or deep tissue full body massage.  Ask them to make note (you will probably be able to feel this) of especially tight or sore spots. These are areas you can then focus on when using your softball for self-massage.

Proper recovery is critical to maximizing your exercise program and the use of a simple softball and can make sure you are ready for the long haul!  Batter Up!


Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.