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  • Writer's pictureIan Thornley

Magic Balls? How the lowly tennis ball can help your shoulder pain in 9 simple steps

Three tennis balls on Ian Thornley Osteopathy background

Using a tennis ball for self-massage can be an effective way to relieve shoulder pain and tension. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use a tennis ball to target specific areas of your shoulder:

1.Choose your ball

Go with a standard tennis ball. You can also experiment with a softer ball or harder balls if you like. You might decide against the one the dog has just been chewing though, but if dog drool is your thing - fill your boots 🙂

2.Find a Comfortable Position:

Stand near a wall, or you can also do this exercise while sitting in a chair (it will need a firm backrest)

Make sure you are comfortable and stable - no falling over on the job!

3.Locate the Painful Areas:

Find the specific areas of your shoulder that are experiencing pain or tension.

Common areas include the upper traps, rear deltoids, and around your shoulder blades.

4.Use your chosen ball:

Hold the ball with one hand.

Position the ball between your shoulder and the wall (or the backrest of the chair) so that it presses against the area of discomfort.

Apply gentle pressure and lean into the ball, allowing it to massage the targeted area. Be kind to yourself - don't go too mad with the pressure it won't make the magic happen any quicker.

5.Roll and Apply Pressure:

Begin to roll the ball over the painful or tense areas of your shoulder, using slow and controlled movements.

Apply steady pressure. Again - not too hard though. Pressing too hard can causes excessive pain - that is a magic killer!

6.Focus on Trigger Points:

Those particularly tender or sore spots are called as a trigger points. Hold the ball in place on that spot.

Apply a little extra pressure to the trigger point, but again, avoid causing sharp pain.

7.Hold and Breathe:

Keep the pressure on the trigger point and take slow, deep breaths.

Try to relax and let the ball work its magic on the tight muscles.

8.Move gradually around your shoulder:

Continue to roll and release tension in different areas of your shoulder.

Go slow – no, no, no slower than that!

Spend about 1-2 minutes on each problematic area, gradually working through the entire shoulder region.


You can repeat this tennis ball based magic every day or two to relieve shoulder pain and stiffness. Over time, you may notice improved mobility and reduced discomfort in your shoulder.

BUT remember, if the pain is severe or persistent, consult a healthcare professional, such as an osteopath (I’m a good choice click here to book in with me!) for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

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