Which juggling balls a juggler uses is a highly personal decision. In fact, many jugglers have many different sets for different purposes. An old set of bean bags for that super cool four ball forking technique you invented and wanted to film but never did (cough cough Tim Kelly cough). Stage balls for performances. An old set of lacrosse balls for street performing or whatever. You can make any number of subjective arguments for any of the types of juggling balls but the truth is: only you can decide what works best for you.
One of the best arguments I’ve heard for a harder ball is that they can also be used for massage or myofascial release, if your nasty. It also makes the prop multipurpose which is always a plus in my book. You can’t use a beanbag, filled ball, or hybrid ball for these types of muscular massage and you’ll find once you start doing these you become quite addicted. One of the things I noticed in other performance disciplines is a dedication to warming up that comedy jugglers don’t really share.
Below are five different ways you can use a hard ball (read: stage, lacrosse, silicon, et cetera) for more effective myofascial release. Do each of the following exercises for up to 60 seconds. They can be performed before or after your show, as well as any time throughout the day.
(I lifted these excercise descriptions from shape.com , thanks Jay Cardiello!)
1. Soothe sore feet. Place the ball under the arch of your bare foot and begin rolling over it. The ball will provide instant relief from tight arches and also help those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. I recommend keeping a ball in a ziplock bag in the freezer for an after-work cold foot massage or storing one in your carry-on bag for your next flight.
2. Ease glute pain. In a standing position, rest the ball between your glute and a wall with the ball directly over the area you are experiencing pain. Press your glute into the wall and begin performing circular motions in and around the area. Once the pain subsides, stop moving and increase pressure into the wall with the ball resting directly over the sore spot. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
3. Loosen tight hips. Lie on the side where you are experiencing tightness with knees bent 90 degrees and stacked on top of each other. Rest hands on the floor in front of your body. Raise your hip, place the ball directly under the stressed area, and slowly lower your weight back onto the ball. Begin moving your hips around to massage and release tension in the area. If the pain is too severe, stand up, place the tight hip closest to the wall, and place the ball over the tight area. Begin moving your hip around to massage the pain away.
4. Relieve shoulder stress. Positioning the ball in this area can be tricky, so place it in an old stocking or sock to give you more control. Stand tall with your back close to the wall. Hold the end of the stocking or sock with one hand and, allowing the ball to rest between you and the wall, position the ball directly over the stressed area. Press your back into the wall. You can rest the ball over the area or perform small circular motions until you start to feel relief.
5. Ease forearm pain. Sitting in front of a computer all day can wreak havoc on your forearms. If not properly stretched and strengthened, this can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Try these two ways to relieve the tension: Hold the ball in one hand and roll it up and down the forearm, or place the ball on a desk or other flat surface and rest your forearm over the ball. Press your forearm into the ball and run it over the ball. I recommend doing this several times throughout your work day to relieve your muscles.