How to Make a $5 Lacrosse Ball Your Favorite Massage Tool

When deployed correctly, it's a secret weapon for recovery

A lacrosse ball sitting on the grass. This $5 ball can be a great massage tool, better than a massage gun.
No budget for a massage gun? Try this.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Massage guns are a lot of fun, and if you’re on the fence, you should definitely get one.

I’ve been using one to activate tight muscles and soothe tired ones for nearly four years. I’ll happily credit massage guns (in part, at least) with helping me stay injury-free for my last 3,000-plus miles of running.

But as the “recovery fitness matrix” illustrates, massage guns are a little costly relative to other tools in the space. If you’re looking to up your muscle care, start with the humble lacrosse ball first. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars, you can pick up this secret weapon of self-massage for just $5.

The key to the lacrosse ball’s effectiveness lies in its density and size. It’s firm enough to provide targeted pressure to tight muscles, fascia and trigger points, while its compact size allows it to reach areas that are difficult to access with foam rollers or massage sticks.

A regular myofascial release routine helps alleviate tension after punishing workouts, lengthens muscles, increases joint mobility and helps prevent overuse injuries. Here’s how to use a lacrosse ball on your body, part by part.

The Best Massage Gun for Every Workout Routine
Expert trainers on the recovery tool that changed the game forever

How to use a lacrosse ball for massage

  • Feet: Stand with one foot on the lacrosse ball and gently roll it back and forth, applying pressure to any tight spots you find. This can help alleviate plantar fasciitis and general foot soreness. This one is critical for runners.
  • Glutes and hips: Sit on the floor with one leg bent and the lacrosse ball under your glute on the same side. Use your hands for support and gently roll back and forth, finding trigger points in the muscle fibers.
  • Upper back: Lie on your back with your knees bent, and place the lacrosse ball between your shoulder blades. Gently roll side to side, focusing on areas of tightness. If you pair this with a dead hang a few days a week, you’ll give your tech-tired neck and shoulders a fighting chance.
  • Pecs: Stand next to a wall and place the lacrosse ball against your pec, just below the collarbone. Lean into the ball and roll it across your chest, stopping at any tight spots. Probably the trickiest one here to pull off; choose your wall carefully.
  • Calves: Sit on the floor with one leg extended and the lacrosse ball under your calf. Use your hands to lift your hips and roll the ball along the muscle, pausing on tight areas. This one rules. Noticeable and immediate impact.

Consistency is key here. Whether you’re a 30-year-old marathoner or an 80-year-old bocce player, focusing on these areas for a few minutes after each session will help relieve pain and increase mobility. Remember to breathe deeply and take your time. No clock-staring when self-caring! Pick up a ball from your local sporting goods store, or grab this one from Rogue Fitness.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.