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Self Massage for Pain Management

Clients come to my massage office with a myriad of complaints.  From the avid triathelete who is striving to stay in prime condition for the big race, to the super mom who juggles her workouts, kids, home life and career, staying at the top of their respective “game” is a necessity, not an option.

So when BT, a 50 year old working mother with 2 young kids came to my office one spring with a debilitating hip pain she experienced after leaving her weekly aerobic class, I knew she would need to be back on her feet as soon as possible.  However, her x-rays and her doctor were telling her a different story. Although BT’s hip pain seemed to have come on suddenly, the reality was that the source of her pain was severe osteoarthritis, a slow degenerative abnormality that leads to the wearing away of the cartilage and later the bones within a joint.

Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of chronic disability in the United States and is the most common form of arthritis. BT’s doctors informed her that her pain would continue to worsen unless she underwent a total hip replacement surgery.  This was a shocking and severe diagnosis for someone so young, healthy and active to accept. BT was far from ready to leap onto the hospital gurney.  She had a job and a family to maintain, but she was also still suffering daily a great deal.  So while she took the time to research her own case, to find second opinions, and to hear past hip replacement patient’s stories both good and bad, I taught BT to roll.

The Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball Hips and Low Back routines quickly became her evening ritual that allowed her to sleep through the night.  During the days, she would use the balls to rub out the trigger points that were forming as a result of her decreased movement, a secondary result of her chronic pain.  By fall, the diagnosis had been confirmed and BT was finally ready to consent to hip replacement surgery.  Her doctors and surgeons were extremely impressed with her unusually speedy recovery post-op and much before she (or her doctors) expected she was riding her bike, back on the tennis courts, and able to run with her kids!  The Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls were an invaluable tool that not only allowed her to manage her pain levels but they also empowered her to take control of health and well-being on a daily basis during a time when she felt particularly helpless.   Realizing that we do have the  power to help ourselves is one of the most important steps on the road to healing.

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About This Author

Lillee Chandra, L.M.T. is a former competitive gymnast, dancer and acrobat who specializes in teaching injury rehabilitation, prevention and self-care. She is a licensed massage therapist, a certified Yoga Tune Up® Teacher, the lead Anatomy Yoga Tune Up® teacher trainer for nationally recognized yoga schools and has assisted Jill Miller for several years. Known for her keen intuition, she compassionately leads anyone to become healthfully aligned in their life adventure.

Self Massage for Pain Management

  1. Hes her y Lilly, love the article and I am currenly attending YTU teacher training level one. As you may recall my many trails of my accident so this is such a challenge for me. My Sanscript is to belive in myself and be positive and things I have lost will slowly come back in time. As the wise person spoke all good things will come to those that wait.
    Let it roll baby. P>S. Happy Belated Mothers Day, to a woman that fits her name

  2. Ashley says:

    This is a good reminder that sometimes we can’t change the damage that we’ve done but that it’s never too late to prevent further complications! I think sometimes I get caught up in wanting to help my students “fix” problems, when it may be more globally appropriate to think in terms of management and prevention.

  3. Katy Forline says:

    I agree with what Marc said. A history like this is a good reminder that the intent is not to cure but to educate the individual and assist the body’s own mechanisms. Western medicine is not all bad and can do wondrous things to prolong mobility, but helping a body to be as self reliant about staying stable and flexible as possible helps both the patient and the doctor have the most positive out come after serious medical intervention.

  4. Ilene Cohen Ilene says:

    Thanks for this beautifully inspiring story and it’s great to learn of concrete examples of how the YTU therapy balls can help both in injury prevention but also in healing and rehabilitation. I think this is a great opportunity for the medical community to learn of and experience the YTU therapy balls leading to greater awareness of the importance of self-care. I have been rolling daily in my YTU level 1 training and I sometimes forget about my spondilolysthesis since I don’t feel any pain. I have been using the balls at the wall in certain areas, as you suggest above which is a great technique. I can’t wait to share this incredible work with my clients and students.

  5. Hi Pam,
    Whenever bone is involved then muscle and soft tissue are also involved. It is always a question of which was the chicken and which was the egg. I would recommend that your husband seek clearance from his doctor first saying that it is safe to receive massage therapy work to manage his pain. Then after if he decides to use the therapy balls, I would recommend using them against a wall or 2 at a time in the tote or even with a blanket over them to pad his back from too much pressure. You can use the Lower body Therapy Ball Sequences as a great guide for getting into these areas with the modifications I mentioned above. Good luck!

  6. pam says:

    my husband has chronic back pain. His discs are bone on bone. He believes nothing will help but surgery. The doctors are afraid to do surgery because he has 6 bad discs and not sure which are the worst or causing the most pain. If his issue is more skeletal then could ball therapy help? He has a sleeping problem because he cannot get comfortable. I would like to believe YTU balls could help. ?

  7. Amy Deguio Amy Deguio says:

    Nice article on the benefits of managing pain with the YTU Therapy Balls when movement decreases in an area – and trigger points form – but also, the enhanced recovery and function post surgery! The self guided massage sequences are so attainable!

  8. Ben says:

    This story is such a great example of a woman taking her healing process into her own hands, an excellent anecdote to share with the many people I see in similar situations. This story also shows what a great compliment the YTU Therapy ball routines can be to the procedures of western medicine, at the times when it is absolutely needed.

  9. Allison Shapiro says:

    So affirming to realize the potential that we all have in healing ourselves. A huge part of the learning to care for yourself and the resultant healing, though, is to have a skilled, intelligent and compassionate teacher. You are ALL that, Lillee!

  10. Anna-Marie Lawrence says:

    Thank you for your inspiring words. I was introduced to the YTU balls 6 months ago , and now I am embarking on the YTU level 1 training. I am in my early 40’s and about 5 years ago I started showing early signs of food intolerences brought on by an Autoimmune condition. It’s taken me 4 years to get an accurate diagnosis to why I have been suffering with chronic inflammation, joint pain and digestive issues. But what a world of difference the YTU balls have made in my life. Even on my bad mornings when I can barely crawl out of bed I can still manage to roll around on my tune up balls, and before the morning news is over I am able to function with less pain. I hope to continue next time with the therapy ball class. Hopefully they’ll find a place in NYC sometime this year!

  11. Erin says:

    The YTU Therapy Balls have done amazing in a short amount of time to my own body. It accessed deep areas in my upper back, and shoulders where much tension not ‘strong muscles” were inhibiting ROM. IT is something you continually have to work on, and revisit.

  12. Noreen Bluemling says:

    Twenty- five years ago I was diagnosed with spondololthesis and a spinal fusion was recommended. I opted to work with a chiropractor and was lucky to avoid the surgery. Over the years I have been both pain-free and experienced chronic pain. Yoga has helped me keep my spine flexible, and my core strong, but there are times depending on my activities where at the end of the day I experience chronic pain (which I now call intense sensation.) I still see my chiropractor and have been using meditation and relaxation as well as yoga to manage. I am excited to try the Yoga Tune Up balls to see what effect they will have on my sensation. I totally agree with you that one has to keep trying and exploring to see what can work. Thank you for providing the inspiration for self- care!

  13. I Ju says:

    Born and raised in Taiwan, I am exposed to Eastern medicine since I was little. The Chinese doctors say that sometimes Western medicine only heals the “exterior”, not the “interior”, or the “Superficial”, not “deep”. This concept was rooted in my mind. When I have back/neck pain, I would rather try different Chinese medicine technique, such as acupuncture, vacuum cupping or skin scraping than taking an Aspirin. I just recently learned the yoga ball message from Yoga Tune Up class. Just right after a 5-minutes balls-rolling on my back, I felt my back pain is relieved, it felt the same as right after I finished my acupuncture. It was amazing! I will continue doing it, not only because it works, but also that I can do it by myself at home!

  14. alex says:

    Thats so cool that your client was able to bounce back from surgery so quickly! I definitely believe that putting the power of healing into our clients hands, whether it is through specific stretches or exercises or YTU therapy balls, helps to alleviate fear and heal faster.

  15. So many of my clients come to see me with chronic pain with no idea how it happened and when it started. It’s amazing to see that most of these cases are rooted in soft tissue dysfunction easily solved by simple and straightforward self-massage techniques. Thanks!

  16. Tracy says:

    Thank you Lillee, for this inspiring blog. I completely agree w/T’ai. Self empowerment is such a priceless gift in the road to health and wholeness. I am really impressed w/the effectiveness of the YTU balls as a self massage tool. You don’t have to make an appointment, you don’t have to pay anyone, you don’t have to even go anywhere other than where you are right now. I confess, I carry my YTU ball in my purse now. I am addicted. By using the YTU balls I feel as though I have a whole new understanding of my own anatomy. I know where I am tight and I can work on those areas before they become a chronic problem. I especially love rolling my rhomboids and infraspinatus, two muscles that I had barely been acquainted with prior to my first YTU class. What a revelation!

  17. Jennifer says:

    What a motivating story. Thank you for sharing it. So many of my students suffer from chronic pain but are unwilling to take care of themselves outside of the gym or studio – not recognizing the benefit of incremental improvements. I love that the YTU Therapy balls are an affordable and easy method that empowers people to individually improve their physical well being.

  18. Marc says:

    This is a great reminder that although not all issues are ‘solved’ with tune up balls, they are still capable of being an integral part in the recovery process and the overall health of the body. Some issues and injuries are not in our capacity to reverse or heal, yet managing the pain associated with the issue is within reach. This is a great reminder that we are not helpless when the body seems to be turning against us. It’s essential to stay vigilant in our internal education and know that we must be open to change and to the new ways we can choose to respond to this change.

  19. Lisa Highfield says:

    So true! Yoga Tune up can be a great tool for people to heal quicker from injuries. Assisting Massage Therapists and other body work therapists in between appointments to speed up their recovery even quicker. Awesome and affordable:)

  20. Teaching students that pain can be worked through instead of it becoming them wholly is inspiring. The YTU balls have given me much freedom through my thoracic spine. I hope to continue to spread the word.

  21. Lillee Chandra Lillee Chandra says:

    Yes, Melanie! The balls can be used to help with knee issues. My surgically repaired knees became Yoga Tune Up re-habbed knees and are living proof! However, as someone new to ballwork, I would refer you to the Yoga Tune Up DVD Knee-hab which has many fabulous ball techniques as well as corrective exercises to help you understand what your knees neeeed! 🙂

  22. melanie says:

    i am wondering what you would recommend for knee issues. where and how often should i be using the balls to help get a wider range of motion for knees that are damaged? thanks

  23. melanie says:

    how can the yoga balls be used to rehabilitate one’s knees?

  24. Christina Powers says:

    This is one of those client stories that just make me say “wow!” As a new person to YTU, I really understand the benefits the balls bring in for self massage and cannot wait to try the techniques out on my patients. Since the hip joint is a ball and socket joint with many different ranges of motion, it is complex and there are many structures that when dysfunctional can limit the hip resulting in pain and dysfunction. The hip is also downtown from the lumbar spine and they both can have either positive or negative effects on each other.

  25. Tracy Crooks says:

    Taking responsibility and learning to take care of yourself is empowering. Understanding that pain is not normal and finding a new normal so not to live in pain everyday gives life back. Living in your body and having the tools to self heal is amazing! The more yoga tune up therapy ball is practiced , it only takes minutes if not moments to feel the relief.

  26. Terry Ford says:

    First of all Lillee – thank you for saying that 50 is so young …. there is much to do and to experience far beyond that age, and the thoughts of having to do so with aches and pains of inactivity are unacceptable. Years ago, when clients of mine complained of menopause symptoms or groaned with what they suggested were aches and pains of aging …. I swore I would exercise my way though all of that. So far so good (with some overuse injuries) – but I’m sure there will be some things that will be inevitable. Having been initiated into the Yoga Tune Up world via Level 1 training, before my eyes is a whole realm of self care that can be taken to truely have all of us living better in our bodies! I’m thrilled for the opportunity to dig deeper and to journey down the path of body knowledge.

  27. Luisa says:

    Nothing is more powerful than taking control of our own health and well being and reaching for natural therapeutic methods of healing ourselves. The Yoga Tune Up balls teacher training course has taught me to be more body aware – to become familiar with our internal makeup and what we can do in a non chemical way to alleviate or, dare we say, eradicate certain physical pains and aches. A true paradigm shift. So empowering!

  28. Such a powerful statement “Realizing that we do have the power to help ourselves is one of the most important steps on the road to healing.” I see this weekly in my Therapy ball classes, along with the moans and groans of rolling out tight spots that have been neglected for far too long, there is also some empowerment spreading throughout the room. People begin to give themselves permission to feel good again! Jill really got my attention during my level 1 training by speaking of finding a “new normal” it made me think of how much pain and discomfort we accept in life all in the name of “normal”. Self massage is great not only from a physical perspective but also mental and emotional. Once we realize we have a choice in how we feel all kinds of positive changes can occur in our lives!

  29. Heather says:

    Yet another testimony of how intuitive our body is if we just give it the tools for healing. Thank you Lillee and YTU Therapy Balls!

  30. frank says:

    It’s an inspiring how you were able to give her the yoga tune up balls which gave her a tool and a focus to stay positive this
    frustrating and painful time, Being more involved and connected with her body by daily ball useage I imagine helped her be more in acceptance of her condition and of course improved blood flow for a more speedy recovery

  31. t'ai jamar says:

    Giving people the ability to be involved and invested in their self-care, pain management is crucial. Sharing skills/tools/knowledge with people who are living in pain, need to augment treatments and discover new ways to find relief is so empowering for them (and for you as a healer). There is nothing worse than a prognosis that has “no light at the end of the tunnel” Sometimes just a simple self-massage technique can save a day/shift the energy and awareness around the healing process and suddenly there is light.

  32. Laura says:

    This is a wonderful story and inspiring to know that the yoga therapy balls could play such an important role managing her pain. I have just been introduced to the yoga therapy balls, but have used tennis balls for self massage in the past for injuries. The yoga therapy balls seem to fit exactly where they should and actually feel amazing in a self-massage.

  33. Charity Baker says:

    I found this article very inspiring on a few levels. Pain management does not have to be for the worse, as you eloquently explained. I love the hope you were able to share with your patient. As a result and withthe tools of the tune up balls she was able to not only feel better, but recover faster. The surgery still happened, but it resulted as it was meant to- give her a bridge back to a healthy free lifestyle. Very positive, I loved reading this!

  34. Heidi Broecking heidicb says:

    “Realizing that we do have the power to help ourselves is one of the most important steps on the road to healing.”
    Very true indeed, Lillee. An inspiring story and a testament to the changes we can make when we take responsibility for our own health.

  35. Dagmar Khan Dagmar Khan says:

    Lillee,this is an awesome story and truly goes on to show that YTU balls are extremely powerful tool for transformation and healing.People in the current world are more and more looking for cues and tools that puts healing into their own hands.How many of us do want to run to GP’S office with every ache or discomfort we perceive in our body?And the balls beside rubbing out the tension from our bodies also serve as an invaluable tool for embodying our own anatomy.

  36. aziyza says:

    YES yoga tune-up balls are truly empowering and that is whaat interested me about learning to use them. there are so many people in need of simple daily relief frompain and discomfort that this self care will transorm many a sour disposition.

  37. Kyoko Jasper Kyoko Jasper says:

    This is an amazing story! Thank you for sharing Lilee. Very often people don’t have the patience or courage to face their issue.
    It is just easy to pop tylenol in their mouth and go on with their lives. Or leaving everything up to the doctor or the therapist.
    By using yoga tune up ball, you are taking a full responsibility for your body, and putting some time away each day to take care of yourself, having that intension, is an extremely healing act.

  38. Beth Peak says:

    I have only just discovered yoga tune up balls, but already I can feel the difference in my back. It’s so great when alternatives to medicines, and even things like surgery and bed rest can be found! Next time I twinge my lower back, I will definitely turn to the tune up balls first, before trying to schedule an appointment with my chiro!!!

  39. Sarah J. says:

    This is a great example of how important taking the time for self care is and that healing can come in any form, not just from surgery or taking pills! I love this article!

  40. Gina T says:

    Good to know the ytu balls relieve pain from arthritis!

  41. lisa Moontague says:

    Wow. Being a 50 something woman myself, I found this article very interesting!!! I am going to pull out my yoga tune up balls and start taking my calcium pills daily!!!

  42. Teresa Heit-Murray says:

    I had not thought of using the ball therapy for getting someone ready for surgery. I imagine it helped her emotionally as well as physically both in preparing and recovering from surgery.

  43. Felicia says:

    Lillee -Thank you for reminding us that massage therapy is such an amazing benefit not only in preventive care, but in restorative care too. With inexpensive tools such as the Yoga Tune Up balls, anyone can take charge of their own healing!

  44. Renee Braunsdorf says:

    HI Lillee: Great article. I am a firm believer in the YTU tune up balls. It is so empowering to have some tools to manage our pain. Massage is so healing,but we can not always rely on someone else to do it. Self-massage with the YTU tune ups is the answer. I use them all the time. thanks.

  45. JS says:

    Great reminder to be diligent in caring for our bodies, especially when we are in discomfort or pain. Effective self care will speed up the recovery process and decrease discomfort in the long run.

  46. Allyson says:

    I used to have terrible pain in my hips, thighs and knees from running. I was taking 8+ Advil a day. Since beginning yoga teacher training and using the yoga tune up balls to massage my IT band, I have not needed ANY advil to make through 10 hours of sitting at my desk 🙂

  47. Hayden Bird says:

    I agree, what seems like massive tension can be dissolved very quickly by doing a simple routine with the balls.

  48. Kristen says:

    I have used the YTU balls to help my shoulder and they have made such a difference!

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