We Asked a Podiatrist: Is This Spiky Foot Pain Relief Ball Any Good?
• Value: 20/20
• Functionality: 20/20
• Ease of Use: 18/20
• Aesthetics: 18/20
• Effectiveness: 18/20
As a running newbie, I love the cardio rush, the feel of the fresh air and the new excuse to buy workout outfits. How my feet feel, however, is not so great. Even after a couple miles, the balls of my feet throb, my arches ache and my toes can sometimes feel sort of numb. I’ve tried hot baths, given myself foot massages, but those easy remedies have done absolutely nothing to ease the sharp pain in my heel.
When I impulse bought the $10 Pro-Tec Spiky Massage Ball at my local running gear shop, I wasn’t totally confident that it would solve my foot woes. But I liked that it looked a little scary—what it seemed to lack in engineering (it’s a three-inch plastic ball with spikes around the radius, big whoop) it made up for in similarity to a medieval torture device. But from the first time I tried it, I’ve become hooked. Now I use it daily, even if I haven’t been working out.
How does it work? To start, I simply mash the soft padding of the ball of my foot into the aforementioned spikes and wince as I feel a perfect twinge of pleasure and pain. Then I roll the ball back and forth across my arch; it tickles a little but soothes out any cramps or lingering tightness. And what about that twinge in my heel? It simply dissipates after I push the ball in a downward circular motion. Ah, sweet relief.
When I found myself foot-rolling morning and night, I started to get a little concerned…maybe this wasn’t healthy? Perhaps I’ve become addicted? Dr. Liza Egbogah, an osteopath whose quest for comfort led her to design her own line of pain-free heels, reassured me that my new habit was A-OK. “The spiky ball helps to manipulate the fascia [connective tissue] and muscles in the feet. Because we have more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments in the foot, having numerous spikes can help relieve tension throughout the foot and get blood flowing to areas that may be tight and restricted,” she said.
Dr. Liza went on to explain why I found myself foot-rolling—even when I wasn't in pain—the spiky ball stimulates acupressure sites. And according to traditional Chinese medicine, these spots correspond to meridian lines that release energy in other parts of the body. “By manipulating your feet with the ball, you can help ease stress, decrease pain and improve energy throughout the body,” she explains.
Basically, this little $10 tool gets near-perfect marks from me, with a tiny ding for coming in only one color (because, admittedly, I’d like to color-coordinate it to my bedroom carpet). I did take off a few more points because the optimal use of this ball actually requires that I stand up, which…I’m really lazy, okay?
Also, if the makers could figure a way to make this massage tool squirt out a cooling foot gel and then give me a pedicure, that would be super. But failing supernatural upgrades, I’m looking forward to a long, pain-free future with my little red spiky pal.
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