Hurts so good

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!



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  1. Well, after all that, I was expecting something more like falafel balls for dinner 😉
    .-= Evan Thomas´s last blog ..Eating Raw With Bloggers =-.

  2. Ok…so I just typed…WOW! I should really get those balls for my husband hahahhahah. But I meant it! He has major back and neck issues, I bet they’d help. The gnocchi looks AMAZING- one of my favorite dishes. Stay warm up there 🙂
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Rice & Beans, Goals & Superbowl =-.

  3. So glad to see this fun review, Matt! It does look really interesting and I’m glad you noticed a difference before and after. I do suffer with a bad back, so I may just have to check these out!!

    Thanks! 😀
    .-= Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl´s last blog ..Healing with (Raw) Juices Newsletter + More Contest Alerts! =-.

  4. Thank you for the review on the Tune-Up Therapy Balls. It seems like an answer to my neck/shoulder woes I was just complaining about on Twitter earlier this week. Working at a computer all day, every day has given me some serious knots. I actually ordered the exact set you reviewed. I can’t wait to give it a try and report on my blog about it!
    .-= Jill Will Run´s last blog ..Fuel Review: Larabar =-.

  5. Thanks for the review. My hubby has terrible problems with his back and when he’s in full-swing triathlon training, he’s always so stiff. May have to give these a try.
    .-= Heather (Where’s the Beach)´s last blog ..And They’re Off! =-.

  6. I substituted tennis balls with baseballs for my IT Band rolling routine … and boy do I squeal!

  7. that was a very nicely worded balls post, I give you credit.

    The hips and butt sounds great, I use a tennis ball sometimes and imagine having someone actually tell me what to do would be smart!
    .-= RunToTheFinish´s last blog ..Group Long Run =-.

  8. These sound intriguing. I can’t wait to find out about the Hip and Buttocks one. May have to order it for myself.
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..Super Bowl Sunday =-.

  9. Too funny with the yoga balls! Glad to hear they worked well while providing general household hilarity (I would not be able to stop with the ball jokes either at that yogatunes set, and I’m a girl for goodness sake!)

    All joking aside, I’d love to hear how it goes with the hips and buttocks set. I give my foamroller some serious abuse and it could use an assist.
    .-= Laura Georgina´s last blog ..In Which My Carnival Costume Rules the Day =-.

  10. Ahaha, it LOOKS so silly with the bright yellow balls, but I bet it WOULD be really tough!

    Good call on stopping when you started to feel not quite 100%… listening to our bodies is SO important when exercising, especially if we’re exercising hardcore like your running 🙂
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Poll: Do you approve of competitive sports? =-.

  11. hahahahaha, oh goodness that sounds like quite the humorous workout.

    Although I’m sure that it really does get you deep down in the muscles. I usually have pretty loose muscles but long runs really get me tight.

  12. I discovered the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls about a year ago. I love them. I not only use them on myself, but I teach workshops three or four times per year on how to use them, and I have all of my private clients use them as well. Everyone I’ve introduced them to loves them. We all have our spots that get tense and these balls help us keep them under control.
    Besides what’s already been mentioned above, they can be also used for treating wrists and forearms in the case of carpal tunnel pain and they work wonders on the feet to help treat plantar fasciitis and tired, achy feet.
    In the past, I have used the foam rollers and tennis balls, too, but the soft rubber of these balls closely imitates the feel of a real massage by a human; They have just the right blend of give and pressure. The rubber material grips the tissue having an effect similar to a deep tissue fascia massage.
    One of my favorite spots is right at the back of my head. I can roll away my headaches, now. I’ve gotten to the point where I reach for these balls before I even try aspirin. I can’t say enough good about them. I think everyone should have a pair.

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