Lockdown has meant that lots of us are exercising more than ever – some for the very first time.
But when we’re not cantering around parks or doing a Joe Wicks workout, we’re crouched over laptops at kitchen tables or on sofas.
That increase in exercise followed by hours spent hunched up can lead to some very achy bodies. Normally, you might treat yourself to a massage or a session at the physio to ease tension and reduce the risk of injury but everywhere’s shut at the moment.
Fortunately, the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) has provided us with eight at-home exercises that have been tried and tested by pro tennis athletes to counter new aches and pains. All you need is a tennis ball.
The LTA’s expert physiotherapist Anna Poyser believes that it’s really important to include some flexibility and mobility training into your working from home routine to reduce any discomfort and help you stay healthy. And the easiest place to get started, in her opinion, is with some ‘trigger ball release’ exercises.
‘Trigger point release exercises are a wonderful way to help release tight, knotted up muscles,’ Anna explains.
‘They can be done to release muscles that have tensed up due to unsupportive chairs, too much desk and screen time, over or under activity. Treat your problem area by maintaining each exercise for just 10-15 seconds, repeating every day until the pain has disappeared.’
Roll a tennis ball under your feet
Essential if you’ve been wearing slippers all day
Use a tennis ball to massage tight calves
Roll back and forth
Alleviate the pressure of tight calf muscles with this simple ‘gastroc’ exercise with your tennis ball.
Place the ball on a point on the calf. Bend the opposite leg and allow some weight to move on to the ball and roll it up and down the calf.
Careful, this one can be a bit painful
Don’t forget the front of your lower legs. This is quite a painful one so take this gently to keep lower legs stretched and mobile.
Sit on your knees and place ball under one shin. Use arms to control weight through the leg.
This one’s essential for runners
If you’ve taken up running or jogging as your daily exercise of choice, your glutes are an important muscle group to look after. They help hip extension, which is the motion that drives you forward and help to stabilise your pelvis – crucial to staying upright as you move forward!
Sit the ball under the left glute. Place the left foot onto the opposite leg – forming a figure of 4.
Then lie on the side with the ball on the side of the glute, just behind the bony hip joint, and roll.
You might find you have overstretched or pushed hard on muscles by taking up
home workouts and hamstring pulls are a common niggle.
To keep them gently mobile, sit on a chair and place the tennis ball under the top leg. Extend and flex the leg
We might find ourselves seated for longer periods of the day due to a new home office set up. Our hip flexors need looking after for this, as when you
are seated, your knees are bent and your hip muscles are flexed and often tighten up or become shortened.
Gentle walking alleviates this and you can help with the following exercise: lie on front and place ball at the top of the anterior hip. Move your body back and forth as needed.
You can improve movement further by rolling your ball across your ‘tensor fascia latae’ (TFL) – a hip muscle just above your upper thigh.
Lie on your front. Place ball on the front but side part of the hip at the
top of the ITB (top of the thigh, below your pelvic bone).
Of course, the upper body can get tense and stiff too – so don’t forget to roll out any niggles there.
For shoulders, lie on your back and place the ball behind the shoulder blade on a sensitive area.
Gentle stretching of the front pectoral muscles and posterior shoulder can ease tense shoulders and improve posture.
Lie on your front. Place the ball on a trigger point on the pecs. Place that arm behind your back with a hand resting on the base of the spine.