Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tennis ball massage

Tennis balls can make great self massage tools.

The simplest method is to stand with your back to a wall, trap a tennis ball between the wall and your body, and then just wiggle around. This works great for your lower-back, but can be much harder to do if you have upper back pain because the tennis ball will tend to pop out and fall to the floor. This is easy to get around - take a thin sock (the thinner the better), and stick a tennis ball inside. Now you have a handle which you can use to pull the tennis ball around, which will prevent it from popping out, most of the time. I've even been able to massage my neck using this technique, something you cannot do with a plain tennis ball.

You can also give your hips or lower back a great deep-tissue massage by trapping the ball between you and the floor, and using your body weight to supply the pressure. I find, however, that this can be too much pressure. To spread the weight out a bit, I use 3 tennis balls, stuck in a row inside a sock, with the sock pulled as tight as possible and tied off. This gives you a relatively hard tube/roll that you can place under you, and roll around on. You'll need a relatively tough sock that isn't too stretchy.

Monday, June 2, 2008

7 steps to a pain-free life : how to rapidly relieve back and neck pain using the McKenzie method

A Book recommendation:

7 steps to a pain-free life : how to rapidly relieve back and neck pain using the McKenzie method by Robin McKenzie

If you haven't read this book, you should right away. It goes over a treatment method which most Physical therapists will teach you, but does so in much more detail that you would get from a 1 hour session with a PT. It is worth going to a PT, for sure, but get this book as well.

The McKenzie method can be summarized as careful bending backwards (aka extension) but there is much more to it than can be summarized in one sentence. In addition to the stretches they prescribe, there is also a range of useful information, from how to sit correctly, to how to cough with less pain. Don't just read an online summary - get a copy of it yourself. Most libraries have it, and it's easy to find for sale online (click the link at the start of this post, for instance).

The book certainly presents itself in a slightly too self-aggrandizing tone. Reading the book, you may start to wonder a bit if it's some sort of snake-oil miracle cure, which I assure you that it is not - I know many people who it has helped. BUT: it doesn't help everybody, and those it does help don't necessarily find them selves completely cured. Myself, for instance. I'm glad I read this book, but it's only improved my situation maybe 20%. But every 20% counts!

Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who find this is a complete cure to your problem. Maybe you won't. But it's only 300 pages, easy to read, and extremely cheap. Give it a try.