ALVIN HO is COO of VitaCare Medical Group and co-founder of FITivate Pte Ltd. He is a certified fitness professional and was named Singapore’s 10 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness aged 40 and under, by SBR. Alvin strongly believes in the adage, “Prevention is better than cure”, and strives to help individuals attain optimal fitness through living an active and healthy lifestyle.
One of the worst culprits of back pain has to be the long hours spent sitting down, as sitting down exerts pressure on the back that amounts to twice one’s body weight. Many of us, unfortunately, have adopted a lifestyle of having our bums stuck to chairs both at work and at home, which is why it isn’t surprising that there are always people complaining about bad backs and nagging discomforts along the spine. I, too, experience a stiff back, especially after an unfortunate injury picked up some years back while executing squats. Even though the doctor dismissed it as a bad sprain, I have had persistent backaches ever since.
Not long after, a good friend of mine introduced a novel way of temporarily relieving the pain – by using tennis balls. Yes, you read that correctly: Tennis balls can be effective painkillers, but no, you don’t have to ingest them! I carried out some research regarding this method over the web and was surprised to find that it is quite widely used to tackle certain back problems.
One common cause of backaches is knots in the muscle. These knots (also known as trigger points) are tight patches of muscle that cause motor nerves to activate continuously, resulting in an accumulation of waste molecules within the muscles. Having too many trigger points can give rise to chronic myofascial syndrome. Direct pressure to these nasty trigger points causes a stretch, which in turn, stops the motor nerve from firing. Through this act of compression, small muscles fibres (sarcomeres) will tend to disentangle and relax, enabling interstitial fluids to diffuse out of the affected area.
For now, ladies and gentlemen, chuck aside that massage chair of yours and hold on to that urge to go for your next massage therapy session.
All you need are two tennis balls and a clean sock – and do what I do.
Try this cheap and effective method anytime you feel the resurfacing of that annoying strain. However, I must emphasise once again that this method is only a temporary solution to relieve back discomfort caused by muscle knots. It is neither meant to be a cure nor should it be used to tackle more serious back problems – which can be precursors of underlying health issues. In conclusion, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, always make sure that this cycle is broken through frequent micro-activities such as stretches or a short stroll away from your workstation. Incorporate exercises into the mix (at least three times a week) to strengthen your core muscles and make your body more resilient against injuries.
For more massaging tips that you can do with those little green balls, please visit this website.