Bridget put me on to the best back massager. It’s literally my favorite thing I’ve purchased on Amazon lately.
Let me backup a second though…
Today was the day I was supposed to write about the amazing results of my 30 days of pilates challenge. So I’m gonna clear the air right now (as I know the world is waiting with bated breath): I failed miserably at that challenge.
I did pilates for twelve days straight and then fell off.
What had happened was ….
I’d just ordered a new pillow and my neck had started hurting. So I stopped using said new pillow and took a break from pilates. But then I went back to my old pillow and my neck still hurt. And then my neck started hurting even worse. And it wouldn’t stop hurting. And then I wound up at the urgent care center with Foster during nap time but I forgot a binky so he started howling like a wild animal in the exam room while I waited for over two hours to see someone. And just as I was about to storm out with my wild animal baby, having had enough of their bullshit, a young doctor from Seattle came in and examined me. I was diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome and prescribed muscle relaxers and anti-pain lotion. And then he low-key told me off the record to just buy some CBD oil instead.
Turns out toting this giant baby around is really doing a number on my mushy mom bod.
So I had to make some changes to my day to day, like swapping the car seat to the other side of the car. And trying to only carry him on my left side for a while. And taking too much Advil, because the muscle relaxers did absolutely nothing to stop the pain and my CBD lotion wasn’t arriving for another couple of days.
I’m excited to try the CBD lotion though to be honest. I’d wanted to order it before but it’s $50 and I didn’t have a good reason to. I figured this was a good reason.
And I was about to try it. But then all of the sudden a rogue wisdom tooth broke through and started wreaking havoc on the left side of my face. Probably because I got cocky and thought I’d beaten the wisdom tooth system by never having had any removed at the age of 35. So then I had to take Advil again while trying to get in to see the dentist. And I didn’t want to try the CBD lotion because I wouldn’t know if it was what helped or if it was the Advil. There’d be no way to isolate it so I could write about it later!
Dude. I am a STEAMING HOT MESS over here.
So no. I didn’t finish my pilates challenge and it’s frankly the least of my damn problems today.
Being a stay-at-home mompreneur is super fun this week! If we showed our real lives on Instagram you’d see a pic of me ignoring my baby while he rolled around in his playpen and I watched Instagram stories in my bathrobe with a bag of frozen peas on my face.
Wait, what was I even talking about?
Oh, right. The best back massager, my massage balls.
So early in this whole fiasco of annoying and painful but, ultimately benign medical issues, Bridget suggested I get a massage ball for my neck.
She said they’re awesome and help her release tension after workouts and what not. I don’t know why I’d never thought of them before but, I immediately grabbed these on Amazon. And I paid the extra $3.99 to have them delivered the next day, even though I have free two-day shipping with Prime (don’t tell Joel).
And then I started rolling up and down against the wall with one like a brown bear in the woods.
I have to say though, they are doing wonders to relieve the tension in my neck. And they just feel great. Like, the good kind of pain. Like stretching after an intense workout kind of pain. Feels-so-good pain.
I had some questions though. First, what exactly is myofascial pain syndrome? And like, is there science behind these magical little orbs I’m using? So while Foster and his squishy little thighs napped this morning, I did some digging.
What is myofascial pain syndrome?
According to The Mayo Clinic, myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In this condition, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in the muscle and sometimes in seemingly unrelated parts of your body. Translation: it’s pain.
Sign and symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome may include:
- Deep, aching pain in a muscle
- Pain that persists or worsens
- A tender knot in a muscle
- Difficulty sleeping due to pain
(Quadruple check for me!)
Where does the massage ball come in?
Well, one of the treatments for myofascial pain syndrome is massage to release the tension. Some folks may use a tennis ball, which I didn’t think of either, but don’t have at home anyway. Some use a foam roller. Some see a massage therapist. And some order massage balls on Amazon, like I did.
The idea is to apply specific pressure to those trigger points in the muscles in order to release the tension that’s causing pain. Trigger points are really just the “knots” or basically micro-cramps due to overexertion. Although the science around it all is fledgling at best, you use the ball to apply pressure and then you relax as much as you can until the ‘release’ happens.
Here’s a good guide to trigger point release from The Art of Manliness. Random site. I know.
What we’re really talking about here is something called ‘self myofascial release’ though. Which deep recovery explains as:
“… a gentle, sustained pressure is applied to points of restriction (those bunched up spots), allowing the connective tissue to release. Picture a stick of cold butter. If you jab your finger into it sharply, you’re just going to hurt your finger, and not even make a dent in the butter. But if you place your finger on the butter, and apply gentle pressure, you’ll find you’re able to slowly sink into the stick of butter, melting your way into it. This is essentially what is happening when a [myofascial release] therapist works on the body, or when one performs Self Myofascial Release (SMFR) with myofascial release tools such as rollers and balls.”
And it turns out, one really amazing way to apply gentle, sustained pressure is through a massage ball.
You don’t have to have myofascial pain syndrome to benefit from a massage ball though.
- Correction of muscle imbalances
- Muscle relaxation
- Improved join range of motion
- Improve neuromuscular efficiency
- Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery
- Suppression/reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain
- Decreased neuromuscular hypertonicity
- Provide optimal length-tension relationships
- Decrease the overall effects of stress on the human movement system
I literally don’t know what some of those benefits mean but, I do know that my personal “human movement system” is not firing on all cylinders these days. So I’ll be rolling on the wall like a bear until further notice. I wonder if my neighbors can see me?
This little ball really is the best back massager though. If you’re having any pain like I am, def check them out
What about you? Are you into foam rollers or massage balls? Ever been diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome? Ever had your wisdom teeth out? I’m scared. Leave a comment below!