I’m a firm believer that all women should get massage from a trained professional during pregnancy. But sometimes that isn’t possible for financial or practical reasons. (Sometimes that reason is your back hurts, your partner is on a business trip, and it is 3am.) What can you do to help yourself at times like that?
In my Birthpartner Massage class at Yale-New Haven Hospital, I introduce my students to an inexpensive, simple tool for massage and counter-pressure in labor: two tennis balls in a sock. A long men’s tube sock is best, so you can tie one end, but anything that holds them together will work. Someone else can use it to massage your back, but you can also use it on your own.
Here are three simple ideas for using the sock-ified tennis balls for self-massage:
Put your back to a wall in a place where you have steady footing. Place the tennis balls on either side of your sacrum (tailbone), and lean back into it until you feel pressure that feels good. Rotate your hips in small circles by bending your knees and leaning your body. This will massage the hip and low back muscles—the ones doing all the work to keep you upright even with your burgeoning belly–that attach to your sacrum, as well as the connective tissue that covers it.
Adjust the balls so they are on either side of your spine a little higher up, around where your ribcage starts. While leaning into the balls, do a slow squat, rolling the balls up your back between the shoulder blades. This massages the area that is balancing that new bra size you have in front there, girlfriend.
Hold on to said wall, and use one ball in the set to put under the arch of your foot. By increasing your body weight on that foot, apply the amount of pressure that feels good and roll the ball under your foot. (I don’t recommend standing on the ball without touching the ground with your other foot: you will risk hurting your foot and losing your balance.) Repeat on the other foot.
So it turns out that my old friend, two-tennis-balls-in-a-sock, has been developed by expert Jill Miller into an entire yoga/self-massage modality, called Yoga TuneUp©. You can check out yoga therapy balls at https://www.yogatuneup.com/. Look for a guest post on this topic from Lillee Chandra, a local New Haven expert in this practice, sometime in the near future.