Here’s a clip of some simple ball work for the upper back that can help reduce healing time for mild inflammation in muscles and their surrounding connective tissues. As always, do not roll on severely inflamed, bruised or broken tissue – use your judgment of your body’s healing process to assess when ball work would feel therapeutic. This clip is part of a longer upper back ball sequence included in the YTU Therapy Ball Upper Body Series.

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Sarah Court

Sarah Court is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Yoga Tune Up® Teacher Trainer, and the creator of Quantum Leap. She teaches public workshops, anatomy for yoga teacher trainings, and trains Yoga Tune Up® teachers worldwide. She developed and teaches her Quantum Leap continuing education program to make sophisticated movement science easy for movement teachers to understand and apply to their teaching. Sarah received her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Mount St. Mary’s University. She brings significant clinical experience to her teaching, attracting clients and students with a desire to move intelligently, regain mobility, or manage chronic conditions. Sarah is an award-winning graduate of Princeton University, and edited the Yoga Tune Up® blog for 5 years. She has been featured on and The New York Times. Find her Yoga Tune Up® schedule here or go to her full website.

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Very true about the tune up balls helping with mild inflammation. My dog hurt his mid back and the pain was also causing some discomfort in his hip and thigh area. I utilized the therapy balls and his tail started wagging!


This is really exciting to learn of a new technique that can help with mild inflammation. Usually it involves ice, so it is good to know of another tool to use!


I have been participating in the Yoga Tune up Teacher Training in Ct. and it seems as if the yoga tune up balls have caused some inflammation. My back is so sore from using them. Yet each day it does shift to the location worked on that day. Feels like I lifting weights with my lats, traps and supraspinatus.


The YTU balls were my first introduction to Yoga Tune Up several years back, and I’ve been madly in love with them from the start. They are little bits of heaven, and as I continue to expand use of them in my classes, there have been many converts to the practice. It is amazing how something so simple can have such a profound effect in the body.


Hi Leslie,

You may want to get in touch with YTU teacher Amanda Joyce, who has experience with scleroderma and can give you better information than I can about it.

Leslie Wright

Hello Sarah,
My students have all been benefitting from the introduction of the Tune Up balls in the classes that I teach. Many are reporting reduction in pain levels and a generally improved sense of well-being. I am wondering, however, about their efficacy and safety with one student who has scleroderma. Do you know of anyone with this serious and painful condition? Any good miracle stories?


Have been taking some time after weight lifting to do this at the gym. Snow angels are where it’s at! And everyone in the stretch area watches with curiosity and mild envy. We have the power to be more comfortable in our bodies. Thanks so much to Yoga Tune Up!

Jenny Buchanan

Thank you Sarah, I will use this upper back stress reliever for students tomorrow morning. All weekend I found myself intermittently thinking of 2 students in particular who need to release upper back tension. Perfect!

Stephanie Fish

Thank you for your post and for making this wonderful stress-reducer for the oh-so-complained about tight upper back available to the public for free.

Lisa S

Three years after being rear ended I still find myself living with pain in my upper back and neck and wonder if I will ever be able to flex my cervical spine in Ustrasana again. I am optimistic for full recovery now, after using the YTU Therapy Balls in the upper thoracic area and lower cervical only once I noticed an improvement. I look forward to adding the balls to my regular health regime, it just makes sense.

Renee holden

Since being introduced to the Yoga tune up therapy balls, I have been using them every day on my hips, back, and shoulders. I had a long drive home yesterday from the level 1 yoga tune up course, after 8 hours and getting in around midnight, the first thing I did was pull out my Tune Up Balls and roll! Great video and great education on how to relieve unwanted tension and discomfort!


I discovered Yoga Tune Up balls at a time I was suffering with major shoulder tightness and soreness. After my upper back and shoulder anatomy lesson that accompanied my rolling, I was able to target the Trapezius, Supraspinatus, and Infraspinatus to bring more comfort to my whole upper back and mobility to my shoulder. It was extremely beneficial for my WODs and who knew the residual effect would be deeper breathing. I love the balls!


Since I have been introduced to the Yoga Tune Up therapy balls, I can now feel my back flat against the mat. I’ve always had quite a bit of an arch and these balls have helped release tension in extremely tight areas.


Since being introduced to Yoga Tune Up therapy balls I cannot live without them! Tension in my shoulders has been released and my hamstrings and calves are looseing up. It is incrediable what they can help with.

Andrea Borrero

I have so much yet to learn about the YTU ball therapy for sure, but I can already see the shift in my own body from the first week of using them. I know where my ‘spots’ are and when I go to my massage therapist every couple of weeks that’s where he spends a lot of time. Not going to give him up, but these simple techniques for upper back and shoulder are going to go a long way towards maintenance and recovery on a daily basis. Being a yoga teacher, I use my body every day as a… Read more »

Anna-Marie Lawrence

What I find so significant about the tune up balls is how empowering they make me feel. It doesn’t matter if I am in a group class or at home rolling on my rug.It’s gift I can give to myself. I may not always find the ideal placement all the time ( I’m still relatively new to them) but I always find a sense of release/ relaxation/calm within an hour of using them. I’m definitely a convert . I’m starting to feel like I’m on a crusade trying to enlighten my family and friends to their benefits.

Anna-Marie Lawrence

I suffer from chronic inflammation throughout my body brought on by autoimmune conditions . I have good mornings and some really miserable mornings, since I’m not always sure what I ate or what I did the day before that put unecessary stress on on my tissues and joints, but I have found one source of relief and that is the YTU balls. I have recently been certified as a Yoga instructor after 20 years of on again off again practice and have been doing my daily yoga practice diligently every morning upon waking, but it wasn’t until I started to… Read more »


Annelie, I couldn’t have said it better myself! You are absolutely right!! I have sold over a dozen pairs in a little over a month. They have honestly sold themselves to all my clients and EVERYBODY loves them! I do a good 10 minutes with quite a few of my clients for each of their sessions (2-3X/week). They’re unbelievable! They’re safe, inexpensive, you can easily bring them and practice anywhere, and they might help you learn some anatomy, perhaps understand a few things about your own body – I know I have! But the best part is that IT WORKS!!… Read more »

Annelie Alexander

Let a friend who just ran a 30 km cross country race borrow my balls for 15 minutes. Needless to say she loved them and swore that the ball work last night reduced some of the inflamation and muscle soreness she otherwise would have felt today. If everyone knew how effective these balls are, the sales of painkillers would probably drop (at least among the proprotion of the population that compete in races for fun or charity)

Jen G.

This looks like a delicious routine. I can see how it would feel really good. I have done something similar and did experience relief from chronic tenderness in my upper back. I wasn’t aware that this can reduce the healing time from mild inflammation. Do you know how specifically it does so? I would be really interested to learn more about the physiology of that. Also, are you talking about the mild inflammation that you would get from a workout or are you talking about something more severe?


 I bring my yoga Tube-up balls everywhere I go now. Since I first tried them I was blown away from the results. These help with my daily self physical hygiene routine. I swim and and run. From these I have extremely tight shoulders, neck and leg muscles. These balls are a therapy treatment for a very good price (like having a massage for free). One day I woke up with a stiff neck, barely able to rotate my neck. After 10 min working with the tune-up balls I had reduced pain and increased mobility. Working with these balls helped my… Read more »

David Ibrahim

My body was really sore today from a good workout and I had to spend most the evening working at my desk, Even though I stand up ever 20-30 minutes to do some very gentle movements and stretching it wasn’t enough to releive soreness. So I busted out my YTU balls and got down and the mat and rolled away. After about 3-5 minutes I felt completely received and rejuvenated in all of those same “sore” spots.

David Ibrahim

I used the Tune Up Balls for the first time today in my teacher training and they were amazing. I remember feeling my back on the mat as Jill asked before the session and then feeling it again after the tune up session felt so full and light, I could feel all my muscles release there and they haven’t received that kind of isolated attention since I’ve last been to a masseuse in months! Love em!

Allison McCready

Today was the first time I have ever used the YTU balls. I have used other self-care tools, but I have to say that I have found a new favorite in these therapy balls! I love how they sink into the tissue with your own body weight. I used them again tonight and even though I couldn’t remember the exact exercises, I just played around exploring different spots. It was fun & felt great! :))

Ann Taylor Lashbrook

I love self myofascial release! I, like Kate hall above, have used tennis balls in the past, but once I was introduced to the YTU therapy balls there was no going back. My trapezius muscles thank me every time I practice sequences like these. I love that the author of this blog, Sarah Court gave the warning not to perform when tissue is severely inflamed, good call. Perhaps a little ice would be better before breaking out a balls after a little healing has occurred!


…those balls are the best!
I’ve been sitting on em’ for days, and my hips are loving it.
I also find them effective for attacking the infraspinatus.
Oh yeah… right there!

Priscilla Ch.

It’s amazing how these very simple techniques, using the therapy ball can help reduce mild inflammation. Giving yourself a massage therapy by rolling the muscles over the balls, it really helps to relieve tthe tension on any area, you can feel it during and after your self massages, also it helps to bring your body into good balance.


Finally something that can release the tension and knot in my rhomboids and bring relief of tension in my trapezius. I too used the YTU therapy balls for the first time today. I loved having the opportunity to get re-aquainted with my body in a whole new way that is therapeutic. I’m looking forward to learning more on so many levels!

Nita Baum

I totally agree that the YTU therapy balls can help the user identify and reduce mild inflammation. Today, I used the therapy balls for the first time as demonstrated in the video, to help massage “knots” in my rhomboids formed from recent overuse of my shoulders (including carrying heavy bags, and reaching motions, like putting up paintings on my bare walls!). I was impressed at how, by simply bringing awareness to the area and experimenting with rolling my muscles over the balls, I was able to work out the knots in a short period of time. The ease of rolling… Read more »

Kate Hall

I have been using two tennis balls tied in a sock for years as a way to give myself a massage and release tension in overworked muscles. Having tried the YTU therapy balls for the first time today, I am curious to see if there is a big difference using these trademarked therapy balls. It will be interesting to experiment.

Dawn Adams

I agree with Lindsey — these very simple techniques, using the YTU therapy balls to bring awareness and stretch into some of the accessory muscles of respiration (rhomboids, spinal erectors, and intercostals), really work to relieve back tension and ease the breath. Because the trapezius overlies this section of the back, you also get some wonderful release in this superficial, yet tremendously overworked muscle. Another added bonus is that rehydrating and heating up these muscle tissues can reset the relationship between the ribs and the vertebrae for some of us.

Andrew Hoffman

I also used the YTU Therapy balls for the first time today. It was definitely a new and interesting experience. For me, it was great to get a new point of view when using different areas in my body. I think we all tend to focus on areas of the body that we are able to see with our own eyes. Our back/neck is not one of those areas that we can visually see, so we, or at least I do, tend to ignore it. Using the balls in this area really brings much needed attention to certain areas of… Read more »

Lindsey Valdez

I used the Yoga Tune Up Therapy balls for the first time today and thought they were amazing! The ability to perform self massage with the balls gave me immediate tension relief in my upper back and neck – especially in the trapezius and rhomboid major muscles where I find I carry the most tension. The balls were also a wonderful way for me to connect to my breath and my body’s needs. I love the Yoga Tune Up Balls and was surprised at how effective they were and thrilled at the instant change I felt in my body during… Read more »