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Today, we begin a series of articles dedicated to releasing those tight, overworked muscles. Pole dancing is a full-body, dynamic sport that can put quite a strain on the body. It’s important to keep everything loose and in good working order, and unclenched muscles means better flexibility!

Plus, it feels great. You can finally have a personal massage and work out those knots whenever you want, all in the comfort of your own home or studio!

In this article, we will be covering how to work out those pesky knots in the legs, which can greatly improve flexibility.

What Are Massage Balls?

Massage balls are small, dense balls that are commonly used in myofascial release and improving range of motion in athletes. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials, but for now, we’re going to focus on two main types of massage balls: Smooth and Spiky.

Spiky massage balls are perfect for penetrating extra-deep into muscles that are extra hard to reach. These should only be used on unbroken, unbruised skin as the rounded spikes can aggravate physical injury.

Smooth massage balls are perfect all-purpose massage balls that can help in almost any situation. While they won’t penetrate as deeply as the spiked ones, they will provide consistent pressure on the target area.

A word of warning; if you have injured your muscles in any way, do not roll them out. If you’re not certain, or if you start feeling any sharp pains inside the muscle, you should stop rolling them out and see a doctor or physio. If you aren’t sure whether you have injured a muscle or not, don’t risk it!

At PolePedia, we always take the stance that injuries are nothing to play around with and rolling them out – especially if you have a spiky massage ball – can further damage the muscle since it is already weakened. Healthy, strong muscles are the best to roll, because, while they’re tight and uncomfortable, they’re not weak.

Do Massage Balls Really Help Increase Range of Motion?

When done properly, massage balls can help open up the muscle group and improve range of motion temporarily. 1

If you want to build a more permanent range of motion, you can roll out the target area gently during a flexibility session. The best time is after you’ve warmed up but before you’ve begun your actual training routine. Pay extra attention to your body in this new range of motion and you can begin building strength in these extended ranges. The key, however, is in keeping that routine frequent, otherwise your body won’t adapt to the new range.

These balls reach deep into the muscle tissue to work out tough knots, so it can be a bit uncomfortable at first if your muscles are tight, but you’ll find the tension in your muscles is gone afterwards. It’s a win overall, and it starts feeling good after a few sessions!

Again, rolling out your muscles should never be painful. It might be uncomfortable at first, but you can tell if you’re hitting the right spots in the right way by how your muscles feel afterwards. Listening to your body is one of the most important skills in pole dancing, and your body should be happy with you afterwards!

This photo above shows the placement on the leg for each of the exercises we are about to do.

The hamstrings are an incredible source of power in our lower body and help determine our level of leg flexibility overall. Because it’s so relied upon in many pole dance moves, hamstrings are prone to getting tight and feeling knotted and overworked.

The calves are an important part of pole dancing – they determine how good our toe point looks, how well we can stabilize ourselves in heels, and how far we can extend our legs. The calves are equally as prone to feeling tight and knotted.

Hamstrings: Floor Massage

  • Place the massage ball on the floor, underneath the middle of your thigh.
    • Maintain a straight sitting posture and keep the knee straightened.
    • Your opposite knee should be bent with the foot firmly on the ground.
  • Using your hands, push your bum off the floor gently. Use your hands to help you roll back and forth on the ball.
    • You can also roll in gentle circular motions, focusing on areas in the leg that feel tight.

Hamstrings: Floor Massage

  • Sitting in a chair, place the massage ball at the base of your hamstring, near the bum. This should be just past the hip bones.
  • Gently extend your leg straight out, then bend again. Repeat several times.

Calves: Floor Massage

  • Place the massage ball on the floor, underneath the middle of your calf.
    • Maintain a straight sitting posture and keep the knee straightened.
    • Your opposite knee should be bent with the foot firmly on the ground.
  • Using your hands, push your bum off the floor gently. Use your hands to help you roll back and forth on the ball.
    • You can also roll in gentle circular motions, focusing on areas in the leg that feel tight.
    • If you need more pressure, you can cross the other ankle over the top of the one being massaged.
  • From here, flex the ankle and point the foot gently. Repeat several times.