5 Lacrosse Ball Exercises For Trigger Point Relief

At Therapydia, we provide individualized, scrupulous assessment and effective treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction utilizing precise manual therapy techniques among other modalities. Our goal is to restore proper length tension relationships of soft tissue and enhance normal joint mechanics for proper function. Our patients can replicate some release techniques at home with the use of a lacrosse ball applied to trigger points in tissue. Trigger points are areas of adhesions within soft tissue resulting from trauma or overuse and can lead to ineffective movement, weakness, and pain. Below are common applications of lacrosse ball trigger point therapy we teach our patients to overcome their functional obstacles:


The area between the upper scapula and spine can be addressed by self-massage with a lacrosse ball to help keep one mobile and also tame the upper traps that are often used in activity. The release technique here is more of a self mobilization and can be applied with short duration holds of pressure over a few locations left and right of the spine. The progression would be to add dynamic movement of the arm into flexion overhead and back down to the hip for several reps, encouraging more upper thoracic extension at end range shoulder flexion.


TFL (Tensor Fascia Latae)

Foam rolling is a great way in general to get soft tissue more pliable and flexible pre work out, but it can be an ineffective tool for the hip flexors due to their proximity to the center of mass and thus need more pressure to release. We advocate the use of a lacrosse ball with a static acupressure approach- finding key points to compress for a few seconds before moving to another area within the same tissue. Place the lacrosse ball just below the ASIS in the lateral hip flexor bulk for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side; staying away from the femoral triangle to avoid compressing the major nerve, artery, and vein.


Pectoralis Minor

Stretching the pecs is a very common exercise given by most physical therapists because as a species, we humans engage in movements that stress mostly the front of our bodies and tighten or shorten this soft tissue. But the stretches given often target the pec major and don’t address the pec minor. The pec minor responds well to acupressure using a lacrosse ball at the wall. A good starting point is to place the ball about 2 inches below the mid point of the clavicle and press your body into the ball on the wall. Static holds of a few seconds before moving the ball slightly to target a different part of the tissue is good practice and spending approximately 30 seconds total per side. Alternately; moving the arm dynamically in abduction for a few repetitions along the wall while maintaining pec-to-lacrosse ball pressure provides an active release.


Axillary Border

The axillary border is a great site for release techniques; targeting the lats, lateral body fascia, and teres major. Restricted soft tissue here will disallow full overhead movement of the arm and patients tend to move inefficiently through lumbar extension to compensate. We instruct placement of the lacrosse ball between the outer axillary soft tissue and the floor using the opposite hand to help guide and keep the ball stable in space as one gets situated. Rocking the body onto and off of the ball with little movements provides a dynamic functional release or static holds over trigger points is perfectly acceptable and spending up to 30 seconds total over several points.


Gluteal Musculature

Typically a foam roll will get the job done for most of the gluteal tissue. There are areas of the deep glutes that respond better to trigger point releasing with a lacrosse ball. Sitting on the floor, place the lacrosse ball toward the outer gluteal tissue near the greater trochanter. One will need to angle one’s body slightly to the same side of the ball to get better contact; the opposite knee will be bent with foot on the ground to help gain position. We have patients perform the release for 30 seconds each side with light rolling or short bouts of acupressure.

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