Most people call their massage therapist when they feel tight or sore in their muscles. Stress can cause muscle tightness, especially in the neck, shoulders and back. An hour under a skilled therapist’s hands is very likely to lessen the pain caused by stress or tight muscles as they knead the knots out. But what if the pain is due to injury?

Injury vs. Soreness

One of the contraindications for massage is an injured muscle because the tissues are swollen and torn. Kneading the torn tissue will only increase inflammation and may cause more damage.

The best way to tell the difference between torn muscles and simply sore muscles is to recall when you started to experience pain. Was it sudden? Did you hear a snap or pop while exercising? Muscle-tear injuries often happen during movement and sometimes you can actually hear a tendon pop.

Can you pinpoint a specific place that hurts on only one side? While muscle soreness can be felt in entire muscle groups, such as the back or both arms, injuries are rarely bilateral.

If there is any bruising over the area, this is an injury. With bruising, there may be visible swelling, redness or heat. These are hallmark signs of acute injury, but they are also signs of infection, which is another contraindication to massage.

Pinpoint a Joint

Notice whether the pain is around or in a joint. Joints are surrounded by ligaments, which may experience microtears, like muscles do after a hard workout. However, unlike muscle, ligaments don’t have a great blood supply and take longer to heal. Massaging torn ligaments will not help decrease the pain. Furthermore, massage does not typically address joint pain since joints hurt when the capsule is inflamed or when the bones inside don’t articulate properly. So, if a joint hurts, see a doctor to get it evaluated.

True Soreness

Sometimes soreness may start a couple of days after hard exercise: this is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Once you’ve ruled out acute injury, it isn’t anything to worry about and can be treated with ice, compression, elevation and rest. Normal muscle soreness does get better, especially if you’re taking it easy. If it doesn’t, then it’s probably an injury.

What next?

After the severe pain is diminished, over the course of a week, it’s time to give yourself a massage with the SPABALL Massager. Roll the golf ball over your muscles gently or apply more pressure with the aid of the SPABALL Massager. The golf ball is the perfect size and hardness for muscle manipulation but it’s difficult to control by itself. The SPABALL Massager not only controls the golf ball but also protects your palm when you need to push more deeply into muscles.

A good massage before physical activities can help prevent injuries by improving range of motion and blood flow to the muscles.

You may also consider learning to massage your partner at home to help them with their muscle pain. This video shows how the new SPABALL Massage Kit not only teaches you how to massage at home like a pro, but it is also full of self-care techniques to help you stay pain free.

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