Greetings from a snowed-in household! We’re buried in two feet of it today, so there’s been a lot of movie-watching going on in the NMA household. Having concluded the evening last night with the important Balls of Fury, I was very tempted to make a “balls” joke in the title of this post, my review of Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls. But I took the high road, having already made two dozen or so such jokes to Erin while I was trying out the product.
I was a bit skeptical when I first opened the package they sent me: Looking at the photo, can you guess why? My exact thoughts: “This lady in a leotard with two yellow pinky balls is going to give me a workout? Come on, I do foam rolling and tennis ball massage all the time.”
The program I tried was the Upper Back and Neck series, a 25-minute audio recording during which Jill Miller guides you through the exercises, with the help of the photos on the inside of the CD booklet. It’s not a workout so much as a self-massage, designed to hit sore, knotted muscles and ease the tension in them, just like foam rolling does. The only necessary equipment is the two balls, which are softer than tennis balls but don’t collapse under pressure (really, think pinky balls).
I put the CD in after a 17-mile run, and when Jill told me to assume the “ardha-savasana” position, I felt a bit unprepared but still unafraid. (Thankfully, this was the only yoga reference in the program, and I figured out from the pictures what it meant.) And then I started the program, mockingly repeating lines like “take your balls” and “adjust your balls inward.” But suddenly, the mocking was replaced by moaning and pained cries of “Erin, what is this lady doing to me!?”
In the photo of me at the top of the post, I’m doing one of the exercises with the balls under me—hence the genuine, pained look on my face. In that exercise, you have to contract your abdominal muscles, but most of them aren’t strength exercises; they’re more like yoga positions.
Long story short, I am SHOCKED at how effective this was. I’ve never had a deep tissue massage, but I’d imagine this is what it feels like. I can’t wait to let my dad, lover of massages and sufferer of neck and back pain, try it out. I made it through the entire program, and by the end everything felt great. But more objectively, there was a significant difference in the tension in my back muscles: at the start of the program, Jill has you note how much of your back is touching the floor, and then again at the end. In the beginning, most of my lower back was not in contact with the floor. By the end, my entire spine, all the way to the bottom, was resting on the floor. It was amazing!
I really enjoyed this program. They also have a “Hips and Buttocks” series, one that I bet is even better for runners and that I’ll try to get my hands on next. And there’s a subscription program, where you get a DVD with new routines each month. Lots of options, all good for runners, I’m sure.
Thanks to Rebecca and Jill for sending me the kit to try!