Actually we all do. Oftentimes we’re not even aware of it either.
Let me show you a great technique for releasing and relaxing physical tension: the tennis ball tension-release technique.
First of all, what causes physical tension? The stresses of life are often stored in our bodies. Anything that we are not able to handle through to complete resolution in the present moment gets stored in our cells for later processing.
These tensions can relate to a task that we have yet to complete, an argument that is unresolved, or a pain or trauma that overwhelms our ability to cope with it at the time.
Since these tensions would be overwhelming if you were aware of them all at once, your body stores them and numbs them at the same time–so you are mostly unaware that they are still there. It’s often only when a present experience triggers that past stored experience that its pain or tension comes into your consciousness. Two places that many of us store these unresolved tensions are along our spines and in our feet. Let me show you a simple yet very effective way to release the pain and tightness in these areas using the simplest of props–tennis balls!
Let’s begin with your feet. Most of us go through life without much awareness of our feet unless they are causing us trouble. Yet, even if we are not feeling pain and tension there, I’ve found that most people store a lot of tension in their feet.
A little pressure on a few keys spots, such as the middle of your arch or the middle of the inside edge of your foot will likely reveal a tension holding “hotspot.” An easy and gentle way to release that tension is to roll the soles of your feet on tennis balls.
To do this, take off your shoes and find a comfortable seated position in which your feet can easily rest with the soles flat on the floor. Place a tennis ball under one foot and begin to roll it around very slowly, sensing for any points of tension or pain.
When you find one, zero in on that spot. Stop the ball right under the area and put a little weight down onto the tennis ball.
Apply enough pressure that you feel the tension or pain, but not so much that it is overwhelming. Find a “70%” pressure that is enough to release tension yet not too much to tolerate. You can also roll the tennis ball back and forth through a hotspot until you feel it begin to let go.
Taking deep breaths and consciously relaxing will help the process. You can even imagine that you are breathing into the tight spot as you inhale and breathing out tension as you exhale. Breathing like that really adds to the effectiveness of this technique.
Spend several minutes finding and releasing tension points in both feet. Keep in mind that there may be years of accumulated tension at these points and it may take some time to let go. Consistency is the key. Spend a little time working with the tennis balls each day until the tightness and pain let go.
A second key area to work is along both sides of your spine on the two ridges of muscle from the base of your neck, down between your shoulder blades, to your tailbone.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the ground. Place the tennis balls on either side of your spine at the base of your neck (the top of your shoulder blades).
Put weight into your feet, tuck your chin slightly, cross your arms across your chest to open up your shoulder blades, and begin to roll the tennis balls very slowly down either side of your spine. Most people find several “hot spots” as they roll down.
When you arrive at a hotspot, stop, and press down on that point with the weight of your body. You can play with the level of pressure by how much weight you put onto the tennis balls. You can do that by raising your hips and pressing downward with your body weight. If you find a really hot spot, ease into it.
You can rest your hips on the ground and, if it’s really sensitive, rest your head back on the floor to take some weight off that point.
Again consistency is important. Do this a few minutes on your hotspots each day and watch your levels of tension and pain release.
To enhance the effectiveness, remember to breathe into and out of the tight spot, consciously relaxing at the same time. You may feel a little soreness after the first sessions, but that will go away as you continue to practice the tennis ball release.