Golf Ball Massage for Heel Pain
Plenty of common household items can be used to relieve pain from heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.
And the simple golf ball is one of the best!
Benefits of a Golf Ball Foot Massage
The golf ball’s size, shape, and weight make it the perfect tool to massage your feet almost anywhere. When used in tandem with proven conservative treatments like orthotics, icing, and rest, a golf ball massage can offer all of the following benefits:
- Stimulates blood flow to the arch and improves circulation
- Lowers cortisol levels, which helps promote recovery and healing
- Relaxes and loosens tight, constricted muscles and ligaments
- Helps temporarily numb pain signals from nerves in the foot
- Triggers a healing response that can bring down inflammation and swelling
- Helps break up scar tissue and adhesions that restrict movement and cause pain
- Relieves stress and promotes a greater sense of well-being by prompting the release of endorphins (hormones that can help block pain signals), serotonin, and dopamine
- Improves oxygen and nutrient absorption in the foot muscles
- Increases circulation of lymph fluid (a substance the body produces to help remove waste)
Is Self Massage Effective for Plantar Fasciitis?
For most people, massaging the bottom of the foot with a golf ball is an extremely effective way to temporarily reduce pain from plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. Think of this technique as an extension of your own natural instinct to immediately rub a painful bump or injury: Scientists have long known that rubbing the skin helps silence pain receptors and activate pleasure receptors.
One study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy demonstrated that patients with plantar fasciitis who used massage in addition to stretching had better short-term outcomes and pain relief than patients who used stretching alone.
How to Use the Golf Ball Exercise for Plantar Fasciitis
Performing self-massage with a golf ball is simple, and can be done almost anywhere, or any time your feet need some relief. You can massage your sore heels at the table while you eat breakfast, sitting at your desk, or immediately after a workout.
To perform this exercise:
- Sit on a chair with your feet planted on the ground in front of you.
- Place the golf ball below one foot, and roll it from the ball of your foot down to your heel bone.
- Apply as much pressure as you can tolerate while you roll. The golf ball exercise may feel uncomfortable at first, but it shouldn’t cause sharp or excruciating pain, or further inflame your injured arch.
If a golf ball feels too hard on your foot, you may want to consider specialized mobility tools specifically designed for foot massage.
Techniques for an Effective Golf Ball Massage
To make the most of your golf ball foot massage, keep the following tips, tricks, and best practices in mind!
Ice Your Feet Afterward
Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, a doctor at City Podiatry in New York, encourages her clients to ice their feet for about 15 minutes following a foot massage. Icing can help combat any inflammation, as well as further numbing pain signals in the heels.
Try Freezing the Golf Ball
Speaking of ice, try combining cold therapy with massage therapy by keeping your golf ball in the freezer until you’re ready for a massage! The cold surface will feel great on your sore heels.
Easy Does It
Your goal with the golf ball massage is to break up adhesions and improve blood flow–without aggravating any extra inflammation. While some discomfort is normal, especially at the start of the massage, be gentle with your feet, and take it slow and steady with your rolls.
Massage After a Bath or Workout
One of the best times for a plantar fasciitis golf ball massage is after a workout, or after a bath, since the muscles are warmer and more flexible than usual.
Don’t Forget Orthotics!
Remember: The golf ball massage is just a temporary pain-relief technique. Wear orthotics with Fascia-Bar Technology during the day to help support and realign your arch, cushion your heels, and help your heel pad rebuild itself for lasting relief from plantar fasciitis.
Don’t Avoid Painful Hot Spots
While it might sound like a good idea to avoid painful and tender spots on your foot, don’t be afraid to work those areas. Put as much pressure as you can (it might be uncomfortable, but shouldn’t cause sharp pain) for about 10-15 seconds, then roll the ball along!
Massage Your Entire Foot
Many people make the mistake of only massaging the arch of the foot with the golf ball. Roll the ball along the center, sides, all the way up to your toes, and all the way down to your heel during each massage.