Stay Healthy and Loose With a Tennis Ball

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Article written by Zachary Cohen and Sarah Cayton.

Athletes who don't perform recovery exercises often feel stiff, and tight "trigger points" limit mobility. Foam rolling can help big muscle groups, but a simple tennis ball can get to hard-to-reach smaller areas of the body. Technically known as self-myofascial release, this type of self-massage breaks up "trigger points" through pressure.

Try working through the following movements with a tennis ball to increase your mobility. For each rep, get in the recommended position for 20 to 30 seconds, and work over your tight areas with the tennis ball. Perform this efficient recovery and regeneration workout on three common trouble areas each day.

Hip Flexors

Benefits: Relaxes a tight muscle that can inhibit sprinting at top speed

  • Lie on stomach and position tennis ball slightly inside right hip bone
  • Using hands for support, slowly lift upper body off floor; slightly arch low back
  • Raise upper body, lift right leg off ground and hold for two counts
  • Lower leg and then upper body to return to start position
  • Repeat sequence for specified reps; perform set on left side

Sets/Reps: 1x3 each side; massage areas of discomfort for 20 to 30 seconds

Glutes and Piriformis

Benefits: Improves hip mobility and reduces low-back pain

  • Sit on floor and position tennis ball under right glute
  • Raise right leg and slowly rotate on ball; focus on areas of discomfort
  • Bend right knee 90 degrees and rotate hip inward, then outward
  • Straighten leg to return to start position
  • Repeat sequence for specified reps; perform on left side

Sets/Reps: 1x3 each side; massage areas of discomfort for 20 to 30 seconds

Pecs

Benefits: Prevents a forward rounding of the shoulders, which may cause injury

  • Lie on stomach and position tennis ball under pec, slightly above armpit
  • Apply pressure to ball and slowly roll; focus on areas of discomfort
  • Repeat on opposite side

Set/Duration: 1x20-30 seconds for each area of discomfort; each side

Learn more about Athletes' Performance and the professional and elite athletes they support on the Athletes' Performance page on STACK.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: TENNIS | WORKOUTS | MOBILITY | RECOVERY | INJURY | LOW BACK | TENNIS BALL | STOMACH | MASSAGE | MYOFASCIAL RELEASE | BACK PAIN | FOAM ROLLING