Don’t we all smile when a massage therapist sinks his or her thumbs into just the right pressure point, causing the muscle to relax? The SNEWS® team knows that pleasure really well, so many years ago we started carrying a low-tech racquetball in suitcases and leaving one beside the couch for impromptu self-administered pressure point massage.
This kit with DVD, chart and two rubber balls from FitBall USA is designed to help someone relieve muscle pain and tension, warm-up muscles and increase flexibility – same as that ol' racquetball we have – but with a little more knowledge.
We used the balls on their own for awhile, just intuitively placing them in spots on muscles in our back and legs that seemed to crave the pressure. Then we also used the DVD to find out how the program explained their use.
Let us say without doubt that we LOVE using this sort of pressure point massage on muscles, especially ones that are a bit tight or stiff. If you can work through the first few seconds of "ache," as the FitBall DVD calls it, there is relief. We now have similar balls in the living room, bedroom and gym bag, and another ready to plop into a suitcase for all travels.
The instruction on the DVD is easy to listen to, friendly and casual – a great change from some fitness DVDs that are stilted or overly chirpy. However, this kit, although sold to the general public, is mostly geared toward a truly enthusiastic or highly motivated athlete or exerciser, or even a fitness instructor or trainer. First, because much of the 25 minutes of instruction on the DVD doesn’t do such a great job of explaining WHY one places a ball in a particular place so the consumer can understand what it helps in that place. Second, the points are described both on the DVD and on the accompanying chart simply by the anatomical name of the muscle. Honestly, we don't think most consumers will relate very well to "sartorius," "occipitalis," or "sternocleidomastoid."
If one can get past that, the instruction about where to place the ball is usually pretty good. And the woman demonstrating its use is easy to follow, although she is so ueber-fit that she may be intimidating for some. One negative: In a couple of places, the instruction guided a user to a point based on physical markers such as the "dimple" near the tailbone or the "hollow" in the side of the buttocks. Unfortunately, unless someone is thin or already fit, markers like these don't exist on the body!
In another demonstration of its leaning toward the already fit, the use of the ball a few times was shown in positions that only a fit person could accomplish comfortably, i.e. sitting on the floor with legs straight out on front, or sitting on the floor with legs in a v-position then leaning forward. If a user didn't get immediately frustrated, there was a quick glimpse of an alternate application sitting on a chair, but not until the first explanation was done.
Since no one can watch a DVD every time they want to use these balls and some users may want to select certain points that are best for their needs, the chart needs a bit of help, too. It shows the points quite well, but they are labeled only with the anatomical muscle name. We found ourselves making notes on it for later use. Better would be a reference chart with the picture of the body so that someone can see the numbered points on it (sure, keep the muscle name), but then also sums up how to find the spot, what pressure on this spot is good for, and who might want to use it.
All in all, a beginner or less fit person might be a bit frustrated but, if motivated enough, could still find relief. However, a more fit or enthusiastic athlete or experienced exerciser will probably enjoy the program.
SNEWS® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $30
For more information:www.balldynamics.com or 1-800-752-2255