Two Tennis Balls, A Sock and Your Back (Basic)

Welcome I’m Brian Hagan with HealthySteps. Our focus is to help people live better and healthier lives.

Our video today is on loosening the muscles of the back using two tennis ball and a sock. First it’s important, if you have back issues or think you may have back issues, that you discuss this with your primary care provider prior to using this technique. This technique requires you to move your body up and down in a squatting movement. If you have concerns about your knees consult your primary care provider before performing this technique. Also start off slow working the tennis balls into the back muscles only for approximately 5 minutes for the first two days. Then as you get a better feel for how tinder this area is you can increase the time. Ideally you want to work this area 3-5 minutes twice a day for about a week or two. Then as the back becomes less tinder move to the advanced technique. (For the floor techniques watch Two Tennis Balls a sock and your back {advance})

The tool that we are going to use is two tennis balls and a sock. Take the two tennis balls slide them all the way into an old sock (No holes). Then tie a knot into the sock so that the two balls are tight together at the end of the sock. This is a great tool to work the muscle along the spine from the back of the skull to the sacrum. The reason that you are putting the two tennis balls tightly together is because it forms a V. It is in this V that the spine will be as you roll the balls up and down the back. This way you don’t have to worry about rolling over the spine.

To start you want to find a wall without chair rails. It is best to do this without a shirt or for females a sports bra. Other wise the tennis balls will get wrapped around the shirt. You are going to stand with your back against the wall and your feet about shoulder width apart. Now move your feet about one and half feet from the wall. Keep your butt and your back against the wall. The sacrum is located between the two Glute (butt) muscles and where the spine comes into the hip. If you place your hand in that area you will feel a good size bumpy bone. That is your sacrum. At the very end or bottom of your sacrum is your tailbone. We do not want to run the tennis ball over the tailbone. Place the tennis balls between the sacrum and the wall so that they are parallel to the floor. Once they pined between the sacrum and the wall start moving up and down so that the tennis balls roll over the entire sacrum. The movement should be slow and controlled. Once this area feel nice and warm (less then a minute) Move the tennis balls up and into the lower back. The tennis balls should be off the sacrum and just above the hip bone with the spine resting between the two balls. Again move your body up and down so that the balls are rolling 2-3 inches up and down the lower back. Again you are just trying to warm up these muscles up so rolling up and down approximately 10-15 times or roughly less the a minute. Proceed in this manner up the back until you get to your shoulders. This technique does take some practice so be patient. The first couple of times it will seem difficult to keep the tennis balls in place and not slipping and falling to the floor. Once you get to the area behind your shoulders you can add the movement of your arms. Also you may need to move your feet out a couple of inches and you may need to lift your glutes off the wall. The important point here is that you feel the tennis balls getting into the muscles. After moving up and down and warming the area up. Stop and move your arms through their entire range of motion. This might cause some tenderness. If to tender stop and move up and down to warm the muscle up more. As you move up the body the glute (butt) may come off the wall “That is okay”. If you feel you need to put more pressure on the tennis balls then move you feet out to about 3 feet. If that is uncomfortable then move them back. Again you want to feel the balls working into the muscle but not terrible pain. Finally you will need to work the neck. Because of the curve in our neck you will need to move your Glute (butt) off the wall. Move it to where ever it feels comfortable. Again you are moving up and down so that the balls work then entire length of the neck including the back of the skull.

Okay that is the technique of using two tennis balls, and a sock to loosen the muscles of the back.

Thank you for watching

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We spend a good part of our lives working toward retirement. You don’t want to get there with the money to retire but not the your health. Now is the time to get your health in order. This video really drives this home. Following videos will provide additional information to improve your health and wellness.



Basic Foam Rolling (start to finish) Lower Body

This video demonstrates the basic technique for the lower body from start to finish.

Welcome! I’m Brian Hagan with HealthySteps.  Our vision is to give you the education, techniques, and support to help your steps on your unique health journey.

Today I am just going to go through the muscle of the lower body that the foam roller works well with. And cover the very basic technique. I know I talked about it in the other video. I’m just going to give you an idea what a basic foam rolling session would look like. We are going to start with the calf muscles. I am basically going to put my calves up on the foam roller. You need to lift your body up. Now if you can’t lift your body up just push your body back and forth. I’m just sliding my rear-end across the floor. If you can lift yourself up and get more weight on the muscle that great. Again you are just rolling back and forth. Now after a couple of day and this gets easier and lass tender you will want to add the movement into the technique. Here is an example of moving the feet will rolling the calf.

The next area is the ITBand. This is a bit more complicated. Again the basic movement is simply moving across the foam roller. Most people just roll on it and thats okay. You can put your forearm down to support you or if you want to get up a little higher then come up on your hand. Simply roll back and forth. Now when I add movement I need to get the top leg out of the way. Also when I incorporate movement I am not going to roll completely across the ITBand. I roll a little area and the bend and straighten the leg.
Once the ITBand is worked move the foam roller down onto the outside area of the lower leg. This is called the Perneal muscles. These are important muscles to work. I can lean on my forearms and roll back and forth. I can also raise up on my hands and work the muscle with more weight on it. Remember to roll from the ankle to the just below the knee. To add the movement for this area just scooping the foot up and down. Or moving it inward and outward. That will really work this area.

Now lets focus on the quads or the front of the upper leg. Basically, you are just going to lay on the foam roller and roll back and forth. This is very basic rolling back and forth. Remember work all the way up to the hip and the to just above the knee. To add movement you want to just bend and straighten the knee.

To work the groin muscles. Place the foam roller parallel to your body. Bring your leg up to your side to a 90 degree angle to your body and place it on top of the foam roller. You may see people with their leg back straight behind them, which is an okay position. It is better if you can get the knee to 90 degrees, because it puts a good stretch to the muscles and you can get deeper. Also make sure your hip is horizontal or parallel to the floor. This may be difficult for some people to do so do the best you can without straining your hip. The movement will be from right to left so that the foam roller rolls into the groin and then out toward the knee. To increase the depth straighten and bend the knee.

Last group of muscles we are going to work are the muscles of the shin. These are typically not foam rolled I think because few people know they are here. They are very important and can cause some problems if overly tight. Start by kneeling and placing the foam roller perpendicular to the leg you are working. Place the working leg on the foam roller and lean slightly to the outside edge of the leg. Now just roll forward. If you need support place a sturdy chair next to you to hold on to. To add motion move your foot up and down. you should feel those shin muscles move.

Okay that was the basic techniques for working the muscle of the lower body. Especially the calves, quads, ITBand, groins, Perneals, and the muscles of the shin. We did not cover the hamstrings or the glute muscles, because the foam roller does not do a good job with those muscles. We will have another video using another tool that really does a great job loosening up the hamstrings and the glutes.

Relax Tight Neck Muscles While Traveling

Welcome! I’m Brian Hagan with HealthySteps. Our vision is to provide you with the support, education, and techniques to support your steps on your unique health journey.

Lots of people are going to be hitting the road tomorrow, the start of Memorial Day Weekend!

Here are a few quick tips to help you relax those neck muscles while you are traveling.

It is always a good idea to do these stretches while at a red light or stuck in traffic 🙂

Rectus Abdominis

Learn more about the muscle that can turn heads and raise eyebrows. With 6 pack abs you are automatically assumed to be in great shape. Maybe you are and maybe your not. Learn more

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When people ask me how can massage help me or does massage really improve sport performance. I tell them to imagine wearing the tightest clothes they could possible put on and go to work, run around the block, play a sport or work around the house. how do you think your body would feel at the end of the day? That’s what your muscles feel like. What the chances that you would end up tearing your breeches or shirt during the day? Watch this video to get a better idea of why your muscle are like tight clothes.