The Tennis Ball Trick That Can Relieve Back, Neck Or Knee Pain In Seconds

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

tennis ball massage

Anyone who has ever received a massage from a registered therapist knows what sweet relief feels like. Sometimes we can’t get to a therapist and need immediate help to relieve muscle tension and pain. A friend or family member may mean well but an amateur massage doesn’t quite compare. It definitely feels good but rarely gets to the root of the problem for long-lasting relief.

You can be your own massage therapist with one simple tool: a tennis ball. The pressure and texture of a tennis ball are perfect for self-massage to get right to the restricted spots, wherever they are.

Tennis Ball Massage

Find our how to target each ache and pain below!


1. Aching Back

According to the American Spinal Decompression Association, at least 80% of Americans will experience lower back pain at some time in their lives. (1) Pain can be caused by any number of factors; knowing the cause will help to take steps to correct it.

Here is a simple stretch to loosen muscles and ease restriction.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back on the floor. Place 2 tennis balls under your lower back between the bottom of your ribcage and your sacrum. Ease pressure when rolling over the spine.
  2. Move your pelvis from side to side, rolling the balls across your lower back. Slow down the movement over particularly tender spots.
  3. Continue for up to 5 minutes while taking deep breaths.

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2. Constricted Chest

Poor posture, holding a phone between your head and shoulder, or over-exertion can cause pectoral muscles to tighten. From simple tenderness to difficulty breathing, your chest houses organs you need to protect.

How to do it:

  1. Stand in front of a wall or flat door and place a tennis ball just below your collarbone. Press your chest into the ball.
  2. Shift your weight from side to side, up and down, rolling the ball along your upper chest muscles for 1 minute.
  3. Stop, stretch your neck and arm, then repeat on the other side.

3. Sore Feet

Many people suffer from sore feet due to standing for long periods, fallen arches, athletic injury, bad posture, or shoes that don’t fit properly. An awful lot of weight rests on your feet so you can’t blame them for getting sore. Plantar fasciitis can also occur when the fascia (connective tissue) that connect the heel to the toes become inflamed.

How to do it:

(it may help to balance with your hand on a chair, table, or wall)

  1. Place a tennis ball under one foot.
  2. Allow your weight to rest on the ball, then roll it back and forth slowly from heel to toe.
  3. Continue for one minute, then switch feet.

4. Hurting Hands

We do so much with our hands without thinking about it. We don’t even consciously notice until there’s pain. Household activities, heavy lifting, writing, gardening, typing, knitting, and racket sports can put strain on the many entwined muscles, tendons, and fascia of the hand.

Flexor muscles attached the hand to the forearm can send shooting pain up to the shoulder and neck if strained.

How to do it:

  1. On a table no higher than your shoulder, place your hand on a tennis ball. Place the other hand on top to add pressure.
  2. Press steadily down on the ball with all your weight for 1 minute for initial tension release.
  3. Roll the ball in all directions under your hand to stretch all the muscles and tendons, keeping up the pressure.
  4. Continue for 3 minutes, then switch hands.

5. Hula Hips

Sitting too long, high-impact aerobic exercise, and non-supportive shoes can contribute to hip pain. Hip joints hold together muscles and tendons of the back, legs, pelvis, and buttocks and withstand a lot of movement and strain. Tension released from the muscles surrounding the hips will be felt everywhere in the lower half of your body.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on one side on the floor and place a tennis ball between your hip and the floor.
  2. Roll slowly over the ball in circles 12 times, then switch sides.

6. Killer Knees

Joints are especially susceptible to injury and pain because of the movement they are called upon constantly. Sitting or standing in one position too long can also cause strain.

Age, too, can result in weakened joints. Maintaining muscle strength surrounding the knees will take some of the pressure off the joint.

This stretch will reach into the knee joint capsule where all the tendons, muscles, and nerves converge.

How to do it:

  1. Sit with a straight back in a firm chair with feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place a tennis ball behind one knee toward the outer part of the joint.
  3. Squeeze and release the muscles around the tennis ball 10 times then switch legs.

7. Nasty Neck

Second only to back pain neck pain is extremely common.

Posture, insufficient support from your bed or pillow, bad shoes, and huddling over a radiant screen contribute to a sore neck.

Constriction here can cause headaches and back, leg, and arm pain. This stretch releases the suboccipital and erector muscles of your neck and is especially soothing before going to sleep.

How to do it:

  1. Lie face up on the floor. Place 2 tennis balls on either side of the spine at the base of your neck.
  2. Nod your head up and down, with the weight of your head and upper back applying pressure against the balls. Continue slowly for 1 minute.
  3. Now move your head from side to side for 1 minute.
  4. Stop and turn your head to 1 side and pause to nod up and down. Slowly turn your head to the other side and repeat. Continue alternating sides and nodding for 2 minutes.

8. Poor Posture

The way we sit, stand, and walk affects every muscle in the body. The effects of bad posture can cause pain and even difficulty breathing.

Becoming mindful of the position of your body, keeping the legs in alignment and the back straight will help to prevent discomfort and muscle restriction.


Release tight muscles with this exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Lie face up on a mat or smooth rug on the floor. Place a tennis ball on each side of your upper back just below where your neck attaches.
  2. Place the palms of your hands behind your head in a sit-up position and raise your head off the floor.
  3. Lower your chin toward your chest, then lift your hips off the floor so your body weight rests on the tennis balls.
  4. Slowly shift your weight so the balls roll up and down to relax the muscles on either side of your spine. Breathe deeply while stretching and continue for up to 4 minutes.

9. Stiff Shoulders

The rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that allows your shoulder to move up and down, side to side, and in circles.

It is the place that stabilizes where the humerus meets the scapula and joins to the torso. This exercise will stretch the muscles and tendons surrounding the cuff.

How to do it:

  1. Lie face up on the floor. Place a tennis ball under your scapula (shoulder blade). Allow your weight to rest on the ball.
  2. Move your upper torso over the ball in the vicinity of the shoulder to release tension and ease tenderness.

10. Tender Thighs

The iliotibial (IT) band is a ligament that connects the knee to the upper leg. Strain due to sitting in one position for an extended period (one extreme) to overuse while running or cycling (the other extreme) can cause tightness and discomfort while the surrounding muscles get stuck to the ligament or strain from being overtaxed. Pain can occur at the knee, the hip, or anywhere in between. Use 2 tennis balls to loosen the muscles from the ligament and get everything moving again.


How to do it:

  1. Sit in a firm chair with feet flat on the floor. Hold a tennis ball in each hand and place both on the outer side of the troubled thigh.
  2. Slowly bend your knee up and back, rolling the balls along the side of the thigh where the muscle meets the tendon. You’ll feel where that is—it’s the sorest part of the tight muscles. Repeat 30 times or as many as is comfortable.
  3. Next, with foot flat on the floor, move your thigh from side to side, allowing the balls to roll along the quadriceps. Repeat as many times as is comfortable, then switch legs if necessary.

Who knew a fuzzy little ball could bring so much relief?