by Outside Expert, Sara Quiriconi
@livefreewarrior here, reviewing a variety of therapy balls to incorporate into your practice. They've become one of my favorite little tools to heal my own body whenever I have extra aches and pains from practicing, poor posture, or just daily living taking its toll on my 5'7” frame.
Balls are balls, right? Why do we need special balls to use on our body? Can't I just grab a tennis ball and start rolling? Well, you can, but you'll gain the greatest benefit by using the ball that's the proper size and “squishy-ness” to massage out your muscles. Think of a mattress: sure, you can sleep on anything if you had to, but having the right firmness and support will give you a better night's sleep.
Same goes for therapy balls! Get the right one for the specific need you're looking for, and you'll gain the greatest benefit. Use them to massage out your body, release tension wrapped up in your muscles, and alleviate pain in the joints. BONUS: I use these for when I travel, too! See below in the write up as I explain more on that.
So, with all this talk about balls, let's hop to the review! And, be sure to check out the video so you can see all of these in action as I talk and roll you through them.
Dimensions 3.5" diameter
Similar to the YTU balls reviewed below, this big daddy of the balls has the same rubbery texture, yet are greater in size. Ideally, this 3.5” therapy ball is great for using on larger muscles and muscle groups (think quads, glutes, your upper back, or the area connecting the shoulder and neck).
Depending on your body size and muscle tightness, this may be the perfect ball for you! Working larger muscles can be less painful if you're new to using therapy balls than the smaller, harder ones as listed above. Either way, I'm a fan of using this one for my butt and upper back, which tend to be sorer than other areas of my body needing a more targeted range. The Everyday Yoga Ball comes as a single unit, so if you want to use two simultaneously on your body, double that order.
Gaiam Restore Hand Therapy Kit ($11.95)
This kit has a very specific market and use. Coming in a set of three, varying from soft, medium and firm densities, they have a bit of a sticky feel, and with reason! Best used for therapy on the hands, you'll need that grip. Ideally, these are great for relieving joint pain from overuse or arthritis. The kit comes with a set of different exercises you can do, so you'll be all set to go with a sequence to implement.
Another use I'd consider these for? Strengthening your wrists. I get a lot of yogis saying they can't hold push ups or arm balances because of weakened wrists (too much texting, huh?). These can help!
Yoga TuneUp YTU Therapy Balls w/Tote ($12.95)
Dimensions 2.5" diameter
The come in a handy little tote, keeping the balls from rolling off or getting lost. Here's the bonus: I actually bring these exact ones with me whenever I travel, placing them in the thoracic spine area of my airplane seat to prevent slouching, as anyone tends to do in the awfully designed chairs for flying. Plus, they're small enough and light enough that you can pack them in your carry-on and use them for muscle relief anywhere in your hotel room or hotel gym.
These have a perfect “squish” to their rubbery texture. Soft on the skin, yet enough resistance to create and impact on almost any area of your body needing some love. Work with using them separate, together, or in the tote. Jill Miller, the creator of the Yoga TuneUp series, has quite a few videos from her site using these as well to give you some ideas (and in my video below!).
Gaiam Restore Hot & Cold Yoga Therapy Ball Kit ($13.50)
As the name states, you can warm up or cool down these little babies! Microwave or freeze them to add a muscle therapy bonus to your self-massage, utilizing hot and cold therapy techniques. My personal favorite of this duo is the one that comes with little spikes or notches on it (looks like a little space ball), which is fantastic to roll out on your sore feet after a long day of walking, high heels, or for those suffering from planter fasciitis.
Of course, you can use these just about anywhere on your body, due to their fairly compact size. They are made of a tough plastic, however, so don't expect anything soft to comfort you here!
What's my overall favorite? The Yoga TuneUp Therapy Ball Kit w/Tote. Super versatile, provides a solid squish, easy to take with you, and my personal favorite that I used when filming a recent yoga therapy series that I'll be sharing this upcoming first quarter of 2018 on ways to heal your body through all-levels movement.
That's a ball wrap! Whatever you choose, you'll find a benefit from incorporating ball therapy in to your life and practice. Your body will recover faster, move with greater ease, and gain greater ranges of motion to move about pain free.
Have you tried any of these? What's your thoughts or take on them? I'd love to hear your personal favorites! Feel free to comment below, or message me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.