When starting a new blog about thriving with pain (or extreme sensation as I like to call it) it is helpful to remember your laptop when going on the road.  Well--I forgot my laptop and both of my mobile devices revolted. All week long. Fortunately I remembered my balls. I'd rather leave the house for a trip without my pants than to forget my balls. Lacrosse ball. Swiss/Yoga ball. Ab ball. Small balls. Medium balls. Big balls...I roll on all of them!

ROLLING ON BALLS IS THE BEST WAY I'VE FOUND TO RELEASE A TIGHT BACK AFTER HOURS OF DRIVING OR SITTING ON A PLANE.

Of all my balls, if I had to take only one, I'd take a lacrosse ball hands down. I rarely receive better relief from my muscle spasms in my shoulders, neck and upper-mid back than I do from rolling on my bright orange lacrosse ball and breathing. (See how in pt. 2)

The nature of my injury is such that I am constantly dealing with muscles that are 'guarding' and therefore tighten like a drum. The sensation is an extremely intense 'burning', 'hot', 'pointy', impetuous and shrill voice that rarely waits its turn to talk. It screams over the rest of life to be heard. This is especially the case around mile 250 of any road trip.

Add winter weather patterns--low pressure, cold rain, rapid warm/cold cycles--and you can imagine that it can occasionally become overwhelming to navigate crazy NYC rush hour traffic or Beltway morning mayhem for instance.

And yet--I'm routinely in situations that should shut me down. For weeks sometimes. With none of my fancy toys that I use at home to help keep me vibrant and active on next to no pain medications. MY SECRET?

The first thing I do when I get to where I'm going is FIND A FLAT PLACE TO ROLL AROUND ON MY BALLS AND BREATHE.

It took me being in SO MUCH DISCOMFORT before I decided to get and ACTUALLY USE MY BALLS! I hope you find your way to these practical exercises in much better condition than I was when I finally realized that THIS IS A DISCIPLINEand I must cultivate it in order to STAY OUT OF DISCOMFORT AND LET MY BODY HEAL NATURALLY.

Initially I must admit, I was a huge fan of muscle relaxers to do this for me. I took a pill and the narsty sensation quieted then "vanished". This approach required one discipline only--taking a pill every 4 hours. The problem is that my doctor told me that the pills would eventually stop working. And boy did they ever stop working for me.

REMEMBER THAT YOUR BRAIN WILL RELEASE NATURAL PAIN KILLING CHEMICALS BASED ON WHAT YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT

I had to find a new solution and do so quickly.

I found that rolling on balls would crunch and break up the adhesions (knots) in my muscles. I say crunch because that is the sound the muscles make when the thick, knotted strands of muscle fiber are rolled into 'release' by the dense, hard-ish, rubber lacrosse ball. It's kind of gnarly at first but after you figure out that the crunching brings much relief, you begin to see it as your friend.

HOW TO GET SOME BALLS:

1. Before you start rolling on balls, you have to get some. As whack as it sounds, I recommend Amazon as a resource for looking at different kinds of balls. READ THE REVIEWS and see how others like the product and also how they put it to use. That's how I started before I got to a good PT doctor who taught me situation specific ball use. From there I made up and added my own breathing that I still use today.

2. The recommendation engine Amazon uses will group balls together and you can use these principles below to select and purchase your first few balls. I learned more doing it this way than I have ever done from any single PT or doctor. SELF EDUCATE and take responsibility for your healing. If you're banged up like I've been you've got the time to read and research! This will put your brain to work figuring out how to heal rather than focusing on your narsty sensation! 

We'll get into the mechanics of targeting areas of sensation soon but for now, research and buy 2-3 (no more than 4 to start) balls that you think will match the kind of breathing and stretching you want to do.

3. Don't know what kind of balls to get? Try this: Seriously--if you're in enough discomfort then you'll pipe down and do it. 

Lay flat on your back, close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths inhaling through your nose and exhaling through "whistle lips" (See "Breathe Life" post) and scan your body for any areas of tightness, heat or in need of special attention.

Say out loud "Body, where do you need me to breathe and roll?" The answer will come. Based on that, get some small, medium and/or large sized balls of various densities and inflatable varieties. Once again--READ THE REVIEWS and learn what other people are using various balls for and how well that is working out for them.  The reviews are full of people like us who are already making mistakes and having success for us so that we can learn from their experience.

Start there and move to a search on the old fashioned goggle engine, then maybe a fistbook group about balls or whatever those whacky socials are up to these days.

It's cold, grey and pouring buckets outside today. I think I'll lay out and work on my tan. NOT. Time to heat my body up, breathe a LOT and roll on my balls. If you've already got some balls and know how to use them then join me today in the gift of managing unbelievable sensation with breath and balls. IT. IS. A. GIFT. TO. HAVE. COMPANY.

Today more than ever, I'm right beside you all the way!