A Therapeutic Tennis Ball For Mr. Mer

A Therapeutic Tennis Ball For Mr. Mer

This week I got my Moderna booster shot. Then crawled into bed. I know it’s working from the immune response; not as horrible as AZ but definitely more kick than the last Physer dose. I’m still tired and seem to be a bit sluggish but I know it’s working. This may be a bit short and if the spelling goes really strange I have likely fallen asleep on the keyboard.

Mr. Mer has immensely enjoyed his week out of his project bag. But he had something he wanted to discuss. It seems he may have been folded into an odd position in his bag for too long and has developed a trigger point in his rhomboids. As we discussed last time they are a fabulously cool muscle that stabilizes your shoulder when your arms are out in front of you (so, most of the fun things you do and dishes).

Now you may be wondering what a trigger point is. (A discrete, focal, hyperirritable spot located in a taut band of skeletal muscle. They can produce pain locally or in a referred pattern.) Think of a muscle like a bundle of straws. To use the muscle you can ask for a few fibrils (the straws) to contract or you can use more or all of the fibrils to contract. This is the difference between holding a fragile, hollow egg (using a few) or crushing a beer can (using Many or all, some beer cans are tough).  As you hold the contraction for an extended period of time a few fibrils may get stuck in the instruction of “I must contract” even after you have told them to stop and relax. The Fibrils will say “don’t bother me I’m busy working!” and refuse to follow your new instructions.

There are a number of ways to try to treat one, from needles to cold sprays to manual therapy (Ischemic Compressions). Stretching can help a bit by calming down the neighbouring muscles but there is a way to have a more effective chat with a trigger point.  In this case, rhomboids are not in an area that is easily self-massaged! Ok, Mr. Mer says he can almost reach the spot but I have an easier way to get there than your fingers.

Ischemic compressions sounds really impressive and very expensive.  Let me try to explain it a bit. So we have a spot in the bundle of fibrils that is holding its calcium and maintaining the unwanted contraction, long after you told it to stop. Remember the Fibrils will say “don’t bother me! I’m busy working!” As you apply an ischemic compression you are pressing on the spot of the trigger point. This will deprive the area under your finger of local circulation (food and oxygen) while you press your finger there. As you hold the pressure the fibril says “I can’t breath!” it releases the calcium that it was using  to maintain the contraction, and relaxes.   When I palpate this it feels like a frozen pea size bit of butter that melts under my finger. As soon as it’s melted, lift your finger and return circulation to the spot. (Ischemic – without oxygen, Compression – push on it). But I bet you still can’t get your own fingers back there to chat with your own rhomboids. (I have a plan! Now it’s time to go look in your backyard or front yard for a tennis ball. Even if you don’t have kids or a dog they still seem to drop in from somewhere!) if you don’t find one lying around, the Dollar store sells Smelly ones.  The less smelly ones can be purchased for a bit more at other stores.

So, what I did promise Mr. Mer and actually made this week was a yellow tennis ball. I had a bit of white, very fine possibly merino or Rambulay batting that is full of vegimatter and some absolutely horrid bright intense yellow of unknown origins.


With a bit of rolling and poking, I had what I hoped was a close size. Mr. Mer would like it a bit firmer and more of a yellow colour.


I added the tail into the ball body, giving it a much firmer core. Then started to lay over layers of the hideous yellow. (it’s just too bright and sunny a colour!!!)(I almost always cheer for the guys with the garlic allergy!)


I checked for size and it seems to be right.


I need to add a bit more detail on the ball while I waited for the other imperative ingredient to this therapeutic tool.

I am sure you have seen diagrams and pictures of people rolling around on tennis balls on the floor….. You do know there is a more comfortable way to do that right?


Mr. Mer tried the tennis ball on the sore spot but it rolled off as soon as he stood up! (It would have floated away in the water so that isn’t the answer).

I got Mr. Mer to practice without the tennis ball until the missing ingredient arrived.

Take the hand from the sore side, bring it across the body in front of you and rest it on the opposite shoulder. (This position opens the scapula and will help get the tennis ball to the sore spot).


The Final Ingredient has arrived!!!!  Mr. Mer is now Very Confused!!!


His “legs” certainly don’t look like that! No NO!! Don’t try to wear them! Put the tennis ball in the toe of the knee highs (you can use one leg from a pair of full sized nylon if you need to get further down the back or work on the glutes) Yes this works for trigger points in Piriformis which can give sciatic pain.


Here Mr. Mer has a very short length of knee high so the ball is sitting quite high on his upper back. This is great for Upper Traps, Levator Scapula and the Upper Rhomboids. By loosening his hold on the nylon and leaning forward slightly the ball will slide further down his back. This will allow access to a different set of muscles.


Yes that’s better! Now the last part is to find a nice solid wall where you can to lean into the tennis ball.

Mr Mer is trying to show you how the tennis ball is between him and the “Wall” (really it is a stack of fiber bins). He is not very see through so it may be hard to see what he is trying to show you.


Oh, it looks like he has moved his shoulder/arm and adjusted the tennis ball to find just the right spot! With this method you can adjust the position of the tennis ball and the amount of pressure you are using easily. Trigger points are painful but when you have the right spot it is described as a “Good Ache”. If it gets more painful you are not on the right spot. Trigger points do not occur in BONE.  Do not use the tennis ball on a bone!

The tennis ball in a sock, knee-high or leg of a nylon often feels really good even if you don’t have a trigger point.


I should be feeling back to myself by tomorrow I hope, but now it’s time to either face plant the keyboard or go have a nap as this is translated out of dyslexic for you.

PS This morning Mr. Mer decided to follow the instruction on the packaging for the Knee highs.  He can not find any high heeled shoes in the house and he didn’t fit in the stiletto boots (i don’t think I fit in them anymore either). He decided to try the knee highs on, he only needed the one.


He is not convinced this is the look he wants, it restricts his fins. He may stick to just keeping his tennis ball in the knee-high. He does like his new Tennis ball!


Have fun and keep felting!

25 thoughts on “A Therapeutic Tennis Ball For Mr. Mer

  1. The tennis ball is so realistic! Thank you Mr Mer for your wonderful demonstration of how to use the tennis ball – you demonstrate it in such a way as to be easily understandable.

    Hope you feel better soon Jan!

    1. i wonder if i should show him pictures of tennis rackets? just so he has alternative usese for his tennis ball. i will let him know he was sucsessfull in his moddleing carrear!

  2. Thanks Mr Mer for showing us how to do this, your expertise is amazing. What would we do without regular updates from Jan on how you are and what you are doing?

    1. Mr Mer is glad he can be helpfull!
      I think it was his geting stuck in a project bag for months that put that pain in his back! then he Kept stairing at me…….. i think he wants me to get back to work on him!! i wonder if i can increess his Fishyness and beef up his tail….

  3. Wonderful demo of how to relieve that unreachable spot. Mr. Mer deserves a better place to recuperate than the projects bag, at least for the time being. Thank you Jan

    1. I am glad he was able to help! he has taken up residence on my new camera bag in front of a stack of wool bins. He keeps stairing at me….. i think he want more work! i will have to get to that shorlty!!
      i did find the olive green coriadale and the mixed dark green superwash mareno as well as some borderlester locks that are about the right colour. now where did i put the carders…oh here they are!

  4. Sorry to hear you weren’t feeling so good after your booster Jan, but thanks for making the effort and entertaining us with Mr Mer. If he ever gets his hands on a ladies wig he would make a great impression as an Amazonian mermaid in his Silkies!
    His new tennis ball is very convincing and thanks for the suggestion of using a ball in tights to get at a pressure spot. I’m sure that would do my back more good sometimes than the gentle rolling of my massage chair….although that’s still nice to use occasionally!

    1. an imune reaction meens your body has noticed the shot and its working!! (sometimes working more than you wanted). Mr Mer had lots of fun with this post! he is not sure the Nilons are for him at least not for wairing.
      you can use the tenis ball in a sock /knee high/ nilon while sitting in a chair too but the wall gives a better serface to push agenst.
      if you find you have a tendency to lean forword (slowch) while sitting you can place the tennis ball between your back and the chair back. the tennis ball falling to the floor will give you an indication that you have leaned forword. your muscles do not always tell the truth when you ask them if thay are still sitting up strait.
      OOOOH massage Chair!!! those can be vary nice but not for too long at a time. also if a nerve is irritable it can anoiy it rather than sooth the muscle it is in.

  5. Thanks for the laugh, Jan. Watching Mr Mer wearing stockings was hilarious!

    That tennis ball looks fabulous and your instructions are so clear. I usually use a long sock to hold my massage ball (I’ve one with spikes), lean into a wall and try to help the sore muscles. I didn’t know it could be used on the piriformis muscle though, so that’s very useful! I’ve some pain there that’s been shooting down my leg.

    I hope you’re feeling better by now. I had AZ for the first two doses and my third booster was also Moderna, but I didn’t feel too bad with the latter, thankfully. My husband didn’t feel very well after his own booster and later we found out it wasn’t side effects, it was the bug itself! Yikes.
    Have a good rest and I’ll look forward to another explanatory post 🙂

    1. thanks i am glad you enjoyed it!! i am sorry to hear about your Husband!!! i hope he is feeling better. i did not like the AZ after affects this was less but the fateege has lingered but i think the wheeze was sleeping with a fether pillow that snuck over to my side of the bed (im alergic to fethers).

      pain in Perifomis into siatic nerve can be the Sacro illiac (SI) Joint not moveing as it should. the SI can through pain across the top of the glues just infrior to the illiac crest or to the lateral glutes which then yells at Perifomis. Extrenaly rotating the knee on the sore side can turn down the volume of the pain. if it dose rest with the knee rotated for a bit. later the streach will be knee (afected side) towrds oposit sholder. you dont have to get the knee to the shoulder just move it in that line of direction untill you feel the beginings of a streach. hold the streach then relax, repeating about 3 times. you should find you can go a bit farther as you do each streach. dont push in to pain! it is good to streach the oposit side too.

      the other thing to try with perifmois that may be comeing from the SI joint is rocking on an exersize ball. get one put it near the corner of a wall. (this works like training wheels so you wont fall off) start by rocking forwords back words and side to side jsut as far as is comfortable then rock in a sercle, start small and work slowly bigger. only what is comfortable, looking for the edge that make the muscle nervis.(the “i dont think going any farther is a good idea” feeling) rocking for about 5 minits usualy looseded the SI joint nicely. mine ues to stick occationaly so i use to do this a lot when it was grumpy.

      i am not shure i can get Mr Mer to demonstrate that since he has a more fishy lower half. i will see if i can find a difernt volinteer!

    1. Thanks Ann!! yes the floor is lying when is says it so comfortable you must go down and visit it!!!! its always so disapointing when you get there!!!

  6. I hope you are feeling better day by day Jan. Mr. Mer is a lucky so and so and he is the ideal partner to demonstrate these moves – I might even go so far as to call him ‘your glamourous assistant’! Great tennis ball too.

    1. He dose make a Glamourous Assistant for shure!! (but dont tell him it will go to his head!!)

    1. Your vary welcome! i hope some of these tips will help keep us enjoying ourselves longer!!!

    1. your welcome! its always good to ask a physio too they may have an ingenious way that dosnt involve finding a tennis ball. the more option you have the better chance you will have of getting rid of the pain and getting back to having fun felting!

    1. Thanks Karen!
      i will let him know! he has been bugging me for muscle upgrades, first in his fisshy parts now in his non-fishy bits.i will hope to have an update on him soon. He is stairing at me again i better get back to work!! (maybe he wants me to start an audio book for him to liten to? they are great to listen to when felting)
      Have fun in Alberta! i have frends i haven seen in years out there, stay warm and keep felting!!

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