Updated: Apr 18
I know, I know these have a funny name.
I promise this is what the particular brand I have were called when I bought them...I'm not making it up!
I'll admit they don't look like they would be a great piece of mat based Pilates equipment but..
Bare with me...once you've tried them I'm sure you will love them!
These odd looking balls usually mean one thing when I bring them to class and that's a slightly 'easier' style of class with less exercise and more lying around than usual. They are a particular favourite to take to the college for the students to use as they are always relieved they don't have lots of exercise to do!
I particularly like them because they are small, though in bulk quantity they are still a little heavy when transporting and a tad difficult to store since they are a ball and have a tendency to roll out of cupboards.
They are not as versatile as other pieces of equipment on my list but they make it solidly in the middle because I am am a big fan of helping to heal your own body and these little balls of torture are fabulous for just that.
The balls can be used in roughly three different ways.
The first two options are as a self myo-fascia release or trigger point release and are the way I mainly use them in my classes and 1-2-1 sessions. It gives an effect similar to a sports massage helping to release the muscles and tension in the body.
You can either simply lie on the balls and allow the prickles to do their work.
Or you can add movement with the body or roll them with your hands on other parts of your body, such as the thighs, to give that massage effect. The moves are often very similar to those performed whilst foam rolling, except you can be more precise with the prickly balls.
The third is actually my least favourite way out of all the pieces of small Pilates equipment and their options! You can place the balls as you would above but then perform traditional Pilates exercises with them in place. If you would like my honest opinion...I have never felt anything more painful than trying to perform toe taps, shoulder bridge or mermaid with the prickly balls underneath the body...and whilst it is something I occasionally film for my Gold members on the website it's not something I plan on inflicting on my group classes any time soon.
The prickly balls come in many different colours and a few varying sizes and as long as they are not too big, as in a mini ball size (7"-9"), then neither really matter too much. They are also available in many different styles with different length of prickles with some resembling a dog toy (make sure it's not an actual dog toy as they tend to squeak!) and some being shorter like the ones I use in class again this doesn't matter longer harder prickles will 'dig' in more. The prickly balls I own can be re-inflated using a bicycle pump which is useful as they work better when harder but there are also prickly balls that are solid and these are a fantastic idea as they won't soften over time.
That being said no one ball is correct or better than the other it is simply a matter of your budget, pain tolerance and preference when choosing which is best for you.
Sometimes if you have a particularly painful knot in the muscles something harder is best and if you want even harder a tennis ball or golf ball may work even better for you than a prickly ball.
Once again as a more specialised piece of equipment the prickly ball is not as readily available. They are also sometimes called trigger point balls or spiky balls. Amazon has a few different different options just make sure you use the different names to search not just one. I haven't yet seen them on the aisles of ASDA, Tesco and Aldi so somewhere like The Physical Company might again be a better starting point. I have seen these little balls called prickly balls, spicy balls and trigger point balls. Beware the chi ball as it is something different.
So...have I converted you?
The pain eases off, I promise, the more you lie there or roll the ball and trust me it's good pain it's not damaging in any way.
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