Need to Know
  1. Release tight muscles with this...toy?
  2. Discover the most portable way to massage your feet

While this small pink ball looks like the type of toy you’d find at an old school toy shop (and technically Is in fact marketed as a party favor), it is also a highly effective self-massage tool. A Pilates instructor introduced me to the wonders of the Pinky Ball in college, and I have used it religiously ever since. Similar to a foam roller, Pinky Balls can be used to target stiff muscles through placing the Pinky Ball under a pressure point until it releases, or by rolling out the muscle on top of the Pinky Ball.

You might be surprised to learn that there are many tiny muscles in your feet that play a key part in keeping your balance, and when they tighten up it can cause problems throughout your body’s musculature. Foot reflexology is a massage technique based solely (pun intended) around releasing tension in those foot muscles to solve muscle soreness in other parts of the body. I have always been a big fan of foot reflexology and it’s benefits, but balked at the cost of paying for frequent foot massages. When I realized I could achieve results similar to my $20.00 foot massages for a one-time cost of just $1.50, it was a no-brainer.

So how does one unlock the secret massage uses of the Pinky Ball? Here is my standard full-foot Pinky Ball roll out routine:

The Front-to-Back

Start with the Pinky Ball directly under the arch of one foot. Gently press downward as you roll the ball up and down the length of your foot. Vary the amount of body weight you put on the foot over the Pinky Ball to find what level of pressure is best for you — some people may experience a release almost immediately, others will need to put more weight into the foot resting on the Pinky Ball.

The Centered Circle

After you finish rolling the Pinky Ball Front-to-Back, stop with the Pinky Ball under the arch of your foot. Roll the Pinky Ball in circles around the center of your arch, alternating the direction of your rotation between counter-clockwise and clockwise.

The Front-Ball

Put the Pinky Ball where your arch connects to the ball of your foot. Keeping your heel on the ground, rotate your ankle from side to side, rolling the Pinky Ball across that connective point between your arch and the ball of your foot. It should rest right under your metatarsals. The Pinky Ball may try to escape, but keep it in place by maintaining even pressure throughout your foot.

The Back-Ball

Roll the Pinky Ball back to where your arch meets the heel of your foot. As you did with the Front-Ball exercise, rotate your ankle from side to side, keeping consistent pressure across from the front of your foot through the back of your heel.

You can change feet in between exercises or roll through the full set of four exercises on a single foot before switching feet. If you’re pressed for free time in your schedule, try bringing a Pinky Ball to work and standing up at some point during the day to roll out your feet for a few minutes. Pinky Balls can also be used to release other pressure points in your back, hips, and glutes, but I’ll leave that for another post.