If you're an avid runner or competitive athlete, at one point or another you've likely been instructed to use a tennis or lacrosse ball as a tool for relieving muscle soreness or tightness.
If not, don’t feel left out if you’ve never heard of the tennis ball technique before. It’s just an alternative method of foam rolling, or as it’s scientifically referred to, self-myofascial release (SMR).
Basically, it’s a simple self-massage solution and the Massage Track helps to enhance the process.
Eric Jeffery (in collaboration with physical therapists and licensed massage therapists) came up with the idea for the track when he needed more immediate and consistent relief from a chronic illness that constantly caused tightness and soreness in his muscles.
“What I needed was a good massage every day,” he explains on the Massage Track website. “That’s what professional athletes get, so why not? Well, I didn’t have the money. That’s when the idea for Massage Track came to me.”
The tool is a small platform with four indented columns designed to serve as a guide that can keep small balls (like a tennis or lacrosse ball) in place as you roll your muscles over them.
Having tried so many different self-massage tools already on the market, many of which work great, at first I was skeptical. I had tried the tennis ball technique before and didn't find it to be any more valuable than a traditional foam roller or a tool like The Stick.
However, that may be because I never had anything to help guide the ball. To my surprise, the Massage Track turned out to be exceptionally helpful in turning the tennis ball technique into a seriously effective massage solution.
Just like a standard foam roller, you can use it to massage just about any part of your body; upper and lower back, IT band, glutes, hamstrings, quads, chest and shoulders.
What's more, the massage track makes it easy to massage your forearms, wrists and shins, all areas that aren't really accessible with any other massage tool I've tried. When I followed the instructions for targeting the shins for the first time, I was shocked to feel how tight the muscles in that area were. The tennis balls, with the massage track as their guide, helped to relive much of the tension in the area for me, as it did for all if the other muscles that I targeted as well.
The best benefit that this tool provides, better than any other self-massage method I've tried, is its ability to find and very directly target "trouble spots."
For SMR to be most effective, the key is to stop and hold pressure when you roll across an area that feels tight and knotted. Not only did I find that the Massage Track is a much more effective method for finding these spots, but that the rounded shape of the balls provides the ability to really hone in on very specific areas, rather than applying pressure over a broad spectrum, like you might get with a traditional foam roller.
When it hits the market, you can also pair the Massage Track Body Track with a “Neck Track,” a similar tool designed specifically for relieving tension in the neck and jaw using tennis or lacrosse balls.
The Kickstarter campaign for Massage Track is still in full swing with just six days to go, and the project has already surpassed its fundraising goal by more than $22,000. You can pre-order one by making a pledge through Kickstarter (some tiers still have availability). The Massage Track body track is expected to retail at $55 and the Neck Track at $39.