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Do you have a nagging knot between the shoulder blades? or upper back or back side of your shoulder?

Do you wish you could just put your finger on it and dig it out?

Here is a self treatment tip worth trying. Use a tennis ball for those hard-to-reach spots.


Stand in front of a wall and position yourself so you can place the tennis ball between your back and the wall. The tennis ball should be at the level between your shoulder blades. Next lean gently into the wall rolling the tennis ball toward that pesky knot. When you get to the most tender spot linger there for a minute. Apply gentle but firm pressure to the tender spot while taking a few slow deep breaths. Wait for a feeling of softening or decreasing tenderness. It can take upto 90 seconds or more for a tender spot to start softening. Be patient. Then move on to the next, most tender, spot. Follow same instructions as above.

Here’s a useful tip: Place the tennis ball in a long sock so that you can sling it over your shoulder and control where the ball rests without falling to the ground when you move.

You may find many tender points between the shoulder blades or on the back of the shoulder. You can self treat these tender muscles if the response is one of decreased pain and tenderness.  Discontinue if you experience increased pain. 

The tennis ball is also a great tool for massaging your feet. Just sit in a chair. Place your bare foot on the ball and roll the ball from the heel to the toes and back again to the heel. Repeat for two to three minutes. Use firm but comfortable pressure. Cover the entire sole of the foot by moving the ball laterally with each sweep of the sole. You can linger on the tender spots to wait for a release or softening of the tender points – as described above. This exercise is also described in detail in How to stretch the Plantar Fascia.

Suggestions made in this publication are no substitute for medical advice. If you have any pain or difficulty performing the described stretches, seek advice from your appropriate health professional.

About the Author
Domenic Lopez B.Sc., Certified Exercise Physiologist and license Massage Therapist, is owner and operator of Healthy Moves, a private practice where massage therapy and movement education help you achieve better living.