Self-massage—including pressing and rolling with small balls—encourages body-mind connection and playfulness while exploring varieties of hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder, neck and middle back movements. While every massage therapist has unique needs and interests, incorporating self-care activities you enjoy into your regimen makes staying committed to taking care of yourself easier.
While doing these self-care exercises, remember to breathe deeply and fully, releasing tightness and tension with every exhalation. Choose the amount of pressure that feels best for you, while also staying mindful of your body posture and positioning. Small-ball rolling can be performed while standing or seated at a table or counter. For your comfort, remove any jewelry or watches. If you experience any numbness or tingling in any part of your hand or wrist associated with pressure applied with the balls, stop immediately, as you may be pressing on a nerve.
1. Finger Pressing
Place one hand flat on a table or counter. With the other hand, slowly press and/or roll the mini ball over the top and between each finger with pressing, stroking and circular movements. Repeat on the other hand.
2. Joint Decompression
Place the mini ball between two fingers and curl your fingers to make a loose fist. Slowly and gently squeeze 2–3 times. Repeat the squeezing between each finger of both hands, including between your index fingers and thumbs.
3. Hand Rolling
With moderate pressure, playfully roll your hand over the mini ball using pressing, stroking and circular movements. Then with a continuous motion starting at each fingertip, press into the ball and roll up your forearm to the elbow. Repeat with your other hand.
4. Thumb Release
Press the pad of muscles at the base of your thumb into the mini ball, pinning the ball to the table, and place your other hand on top. Slowly press and release. Then with a squishing motion, try rotating your bottom hand as if making orange juice. Repeat this motion throughout the rest of your palm, and on the other hand.
5. Forearm Release
Place one forearm flat on a table or counter. With the other hand, slowly press and/or roll the mini ball over the wrist and forearm with pressing, stroking and circular movements. Explore between the radius and ulna; apply moderate pressure to the wrist extensor mass. Repeat on the other forearm.
Angela Kneale, OTD, OTR/L, author of Mini Ball Rolling: Playful Self-Care for Happy, Healthy Hands (2016), is an occupational therapist, integrative health coach, Franklin Method educator and certified Stott Pilates instructor. She is the author of seven other instructional books, and specializes in the integration of movement, breathing, postural alignment and relaxation techniques for optimal health and well-being. For more information, visit optp.com.