When it comes to managing arthritis, there’s no substitute for taking your prescribed medications and treatments, getting regular exercise and physical activity, and following your doctor’s advice for physical or occupational therapy if needed. That said, it can be difficult or impossible to get PT right now and even getting regular physical activity can be more challenging if you’re used to exercising in a gym setting.
Enter the need for more home remedies and household hacks to help ease arthritis pain.
Here, we curated ways to use a simple tennis ball to massage different problem areas, serve as an assistive device for opening difficult objects, and even helping you get more sleep if a snoring partner is keeping you up at night.
Tennis Ball Foot Roll
Foot pain is a common problem for many types of arthritis, especially axial spondyloarthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Enthesitis, or inflammation in places where tendons and ligaments attach to bone, is common in these conditions and can cause pain along the bottom of the foot, especially in the morning when you get out of bed.
A simple tennis ball foot massage may help. With shoes and socks off, place your foot on top of a tennis ball and roll it around on the floor with your foot.
Tennis Ball Hand Strengthener
Gripping a tennis ball is an easy way to work on your grip strength and help combat hand pain you may be feeling from doing more chores and housework than usual. Try this move from Prevention.com: Tightly squeeze a tennis ball in your hand. Flex your wrist up and then down as you firmly slam the ball down to the ground. When the ball bounces back up, catch it with your palm facing down. Tighten your grip, then repeat. Do 20 bounces with one hand, then repeat with the other hand.
Tennis Ball Back Massage
To ease an achy back, you can turn tennis balls into a substitute for a foam roller. Place a few tennis balls in a long tube sock. Rub the sock along your back as though you’re drying off after a shower.
Or, you can follow this technique from Spine-Health.com: Duct tape two tennis balls together so they’re in the shape of a peanut. Place the tennis ball massager on the ground then lie on it (your head should be facing up toward the ceiling) and your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor. The tennis balls should be parallel to your waist and slightly above your lower back. Here are the directions from Spine-Health:
- Adjust yourself until you feel balanced and comfortable, and then raise both arms with your fingers pointed toward the ceiling. Keep your arms as straight as possible.
- Beginning with either your right or left arm, slowly lower your arm back toward your head. Keep your arms as straight as possible and feel free to bend your neck backward when moving your arms.
- Bring the arm backward to the ground. Hold this position for a couple seconds, then slowly bring it back to its original starting position.
- Repeat the same action with the other arm.
- Complete for each arm 4 more times.
Tennis Ball Hip Massage
According to Prevention.com, this technique targets multiple large and small muscles that surround the hip, which can be tight from sitting too much. To do it, lie on the ground on your side and place a tennis ball next to your hip, then lean into the ball. Make slow circles with the hip and leg as it rests on the ball. Circle 12 times in each direction, then repeat on the other side.
Tennis Ball Neck Soother
Stress can manifest itself in the neck, and this can be made even worse if you spend a lot more time hunched over your phone or working at a desk that’s not ergonomically supportive. Your tennis ball peanut massager can also help sooth neck muscle strain. Follow these steps from Active.com. Lie down on your back and place the tennis balls under your neck, near the bottom of your skull. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, letting yourself relax for 5 or 10 minutes.
Tennis Ball Jar Opener
You can cut a tennis ball in half along the seams to turn it into a handy jar opener. This may be tricky to do if you have arthritis in your hands, so use your judgment and don’t attempt this if it doesn’t seem safe for you. These directions from Instructables.com recommend using an X-acto knife for safety.
Tennis Ball Laundry Service
If you’re spending more time at home and doing more laundry as a result, consider this trick. Good Housekeeping’s Heloise recommends using a couple of clean tennis balls in the dryer along with comforters or pillows to help them emerge plump and airy.
Tennis Ball Snoring Solution
Good sleep is hard to come by when you live with chronic pain. The last thing you need is a snoring bedfellow to disturb your already restless slumber. Since snoring tends to be worse when people sleep on their back, add a tennis ball to your partner’s pajama shirt. (You can safety pin a sock with a tennis ball in it to the back of the shirt.) If your partner rolls on to their back while they sleep, the tennis ball can help nudge them back to their side and help reduce the snoring.
Tennis Ball Furniture Protectors
If you and other family members are working from home under quarantine and don’t have a dedicated home office, you’ve likely experienced some degree of musical chairs, as living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens become makeshift workspaces. You can make it easier to drag furniture around — preventing pain and floor damage! — by cutting a slit in a tennis ball to cover chair legs.
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