HomeMobilityHow To Use A Tennis Ball To Increase Shoulder Mobility

How To Use A Tennis Ball To Increase Shoulder Mobility

Shoulder Mobility... Often Neglected

tennis ball massage

I spend a lot of my time in the gym focusing on size and strength, in the past whenever I would get a slight pain or ache in my shoulder I’d disregard it and ‘push through the pain’ the problem here was I didn’t understand that there was a difference between the muscular fatigue (good) soreness and an actual injury in progress.

Needless to say I’ve had several shoulder issues (rotator cuff impingements) primarily in my earlier years of lifting.
After spending hundreds of dollars on physiotherapy and massages I would recover, only to encounter the same issue again a few months down the track… besides a couple of warm up sets of the exercise I was about to perform I didn’t do any dynamic stretching, foam rolling or mobility oriented drills.

Ever since then I have implemented some rotator cuff stretches as part of my warm-up/morning routine and tennis ball self massage that has increased my shoulder flexibility and improved my overall posture (as I spend a large amount of time in my office working on my blog, books and other projects and find myself with a hunched back from time to time).

The Tennis Ball

I am guilty, like most gym goers of neglecting the recovery process.
Smashing dumbbells and barbells around in the gym is great fun, yet the recovery process, muscle knots and associated soreness is definitely not.

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Rolling around and focusing on trigger point self massage with a tennis ball probably isn’t high on your to-do list either if we’re honest…

But First...

Before we delve straight into tennis ball self massage I want to clear a few things up:

If you have torn or suspect you have torn a muscle DO NOT apply pressure to it with a tennis ball – this will make matters worse

It is safe to perform tennis ball self massage on a daily basis, I recommend it (if this isn’t possible aim for 3 sessions per week)

Hold each trigger point for 30 seconds at a time before releasing and re-assessing

When rolling to find your next trigger point roll the balls slowly and carefully, don’t rush

This is going to hurt, there’s no way around it (after a while you’ll find a real ‘zen’ in it like I do, either that or I’m just sick)

The pain is more intense upon locating a new trigger point, the longer you hold (3o seconds) the more the pain will diminish, it’s rewarding!

Your trigger points may not be in the exact same spot as my diagrams and images below – roll on your tennis ball a bit and find your trigger points – there is no precise GPS location for where your muscular knots will be, it’s different for everyone

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How To Use A Tennis Ball To Increase Shoulder Mobility

If you've injured your shoulders or are finding them quite immobile focus on releasing pressure from your trapezius, deltoids, rotator cuffs and scapula.


Tennis Ball Self Massage Deltoid

Tightness and pain in the deltoid results in weakness and limited range of motion.

Depending on the degree of your shoulder pain/tightness I recommend trying the 2 different methods for hitting the deltoids:

– Start off standing side on against a wall – place the tennis ball on your deltoid (upper arm) and roll slightly from side to side to hone in on any trigger points.

– Provided the above method was not already too sore it’s time to move on to the floor, Lay on your side with the tennis ball between your shoulder and the floor – roll around like you did on the wall to hone in and apply pressure to any apparent trigger points (you’ll be applying a lot more pressure utilizing this method).

Latisimuss Dorsi

Tennis Ball Self Massage Lats

Your lats attach to your shoulder blades (scapula) as seen in the diagram above – excessive tightness in your lats can lead to impingement and various imbalances in the shoulder.
If you want to avoid any potential shoulder issues I recommend taking care of your lats (trust me, shoulder pain isn’t fun!).

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There’s 2 ways to hit this trigger point successfully, they include:

– Laying on your side with the tennis ball underneath your arm pit while your arm is rotated outwards.
– With your tennis ball between your back and a wall, with the ball located below your shoulder blades.

Rotator Cuff Aka. Teres Minor & Infraspitanus

Tennis Ball Self Massage Rotator Cuff

Trigger points, soreness and injury to these 2 rotator cuff muscles is often caused by excessive overhead movements (in our case, the overhead press).

There’s 2 ways to hit this trigger point successfully, they include:

– Laying on your side with your elbow at a 90 degree angle.
– With your tennis ball between your back and a wall, with the ball located just outside of your shoulder blade.

This is without a doubt the most painful pressure point for me!


Tennis Ball Self Massage Traps

Tightness in the traps results in an increase in the risk of shoulder and neck pain – make sure you’re releasing pressure from your trapezius muscles regularly.

Once again, you can hit the trapezius via 2 methods, wall or floor… I recommend using the floor.

– Lay on the floor with your tennis ball perched in one of the two bulges on the side of your neck – have your knees bent while you do so in order to move around slightly to apply more pressure/hone in from a slightly different angle.
– Repeat for other side of trapezius muscle.

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What's Your Take On Increasing Shoulder Mobility? Let Me Know In The Comments Below!


Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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