I’m here today to tell you: blue balls are real! They hurt, they last a long time, they really need to be released, they work great on women and by far are the best thoracic spine self myofascial release product on the market!
Bad Blue Balls!
Good Blue Balls!
As some of you may know, I’ll fully admit to my addiction to self myofascial release (SMR) as well as my ridiculous habit of owning far too many rollers, sticks, balls and every other type of tool out there for performing SMR. I have an ode to SMR here, a complete product market review here and in case you feel lost in what to do with all the toys, I put together about 2 hours worth of instruction videos for every usage I know. Don’t believe my crazy:
I take SMR seriously!
Okay, to the topic at hand. A couple of months ago I saw a picture floating around Facebook, similar to my picture above of me holding the Bloob-Allz product in my hand. I immediately recognized the shape and intention:
Finally a product truly designed to target this one very important self myofascial release area: lumbar & especially thoracic spine. Anyone who’s used two taped up tennis balls in this set up knows there are some major flaws:
The flaws of dual (taped up) tennis balls for SMR:
1) You need good balls, ones that are meant for “hard court” which comes at a price (for me about $3.50-$4.00 for a 3-pack. This becomes quite costly over the year.
2) When you first build a pair they work very well, but over time, especially in a clinical setting such as I’m using them (5-8+ clients a day), they flatten to a mushy substance worth next to nothing and therefore we lose all benefit of using them.
3) It’s an art form getting them packed as superbly as I’ve done above, let alone doing it every week (again cost, annoying)!
4) For us SMR connoisseurs, who truly dedicate a great deal of time into making our bodies feel better and recover faster from the torture we put it through, well many times, even when brand new, the two tennis balls just don’t cut it
5) Lastly, from a perfectionist standpoint, dual (taped up) tennis balls work superbly in the lower back, somewhat decent in the low-mid back but by the time you get up towards the mid-back (rhomboids, mid-traps) on anyone over 5’2″ or over 150lbs they really can’t get in to dig at the areas we really have the most trigger points and muscle knots!
I’ve said it time and time again: in regards to self myofascial release, while I could probably make a foam roller work on every part of my body, it doesn’t mean it’s the absolute best or even the optimal way to target that unique area of the body. You need the right tool for each job! Case in point, the TFL area (think dress pant pocket line) can be hit with a foam roller and most company’s products demonstrate how, but by fluke I figured out that the best way to hit it is not with a roller, but actually a softball or baseball. It just works better!
And that’s what Bloob-Allz does: it works better than dual (taped up) tennis balls, especially for thoracic mobility and self myofascial release of the mid-back (rhomboid, mid-trap) area where near all of us have muscle knots and trigger points.
Why It’s Better: The Pros
Take the inverse of all of the flaws of using dual (taped up) tennis balls I outlined above and that’s why Bloob-Allz are worth the purchase. For the upfront cost of about $30 I’m buying a product that is going to last a LOT longer than tennis balls (especially in a clinical setting such as with my 5-8+ personal training clients each day). They do not degrade into a smooshy, useless product as all tennis balls flatten quite quickly with the usage we currently use them for. They are hard, which I’ll explain later can be a con, but in reality, if you’re going to do SMR, it’s going to be somewhat (or a lot) painful – what matters in performing SMR (as laid out in my guidelines video) is that you need to be able to relax into that pain for the “release” or resetting effect to happen. If you can do that with the Bloob-Allz product, the euphoric feeling Joe (the inventor) describes is absolutely amazing. Near orgasmic, in fact!
Where this product shines far above what’s currently on the market is the fact that with a few easy turns you can widen the balls further away from each other (about 1.25″ apart). Why is that important? Well, let’s look at some back anatomy:
Back musculature is incredibly complex. You can see the cross hatch and various ups, downs, sideways, etc of all the different muscles. You’ll also notice that the most vertical running group of muscles (called the erector spinae group) run ride beside the spine itself such as this:
While other muscles, especially the rhomboids and mid-trapezius run in completely opposite (side to side) and fan out quite a distance from the spinal column shown here:
The rhomboids shown in bold red are a VERY common source (I’m talking epidemic level) of trigger points, pain and even dysfunction for most people.
Trigger points, muscle knots and tension in this area can lead to postural issues (such as slouching and shoulder protraction) which can lead to serious pains in the front shoulder and neck. In fact when people tell me their neck is stiff I immediately have them go searching in their mid-back for trigger points and 90% of the time the have a nasty trigger point on the same side as the neck pain.
I’m not going to go into further detail of the absolute necessity for people to maintain good thoracic spine mobility as I’ve explained before how granny, with her inability to put her shirt on because of her serious hunchback didn’t happen overnight.
I’ve also been searching for the magic cure that would fix these knots and trigger points I so frequently get in that mid-back area (as do so many of my clients, friends, family). I’m not sure there is one. I’ve tried chiropractic treatment, active release technique (ART), IMS, acupuncture, massage and every type of heat and cold product out there. No success. I’m not 100% convinced (as I still have hope and keep searching for the answer) the best way to ensure I don’t really suffer is to DIAL DOWN the tension in that area FREQUENTLY!
And the Bloob-Allz are the single best product on the market for that job!
You can’t please everyone. I’ve tried for the past two years to really “convert” my clients into SMR junkies to save them from the aches and pains of life, movement, sports and our training sessions and some have really taken it to heart. Others couldn’t be bothered, until they get injured and realize they should have been doing this all along. And still others refuse to follow the advice of so many of the good coaches, personal trainers, chiros and physiotherapists preaching the benefits of SMR.
As much as I wanna be the guy to say, yes it hurts but just suck it up princess, I can’t ignore the fact that some people have VERY low pain tolerance, that they turn very off from sources of pain. I’ve tested the Bloob-Allz product on every single one of my clients and it’s about 80/20. 80% know how well they work and reach for them in my toy bucket and the other 20% simply prefer the “old school” dual (taped up) tennis balls. For one simple reason, “I don’t want those damn Bloob-Allz; they’re just too hard!” proclaimed my client a few days ago.
I’ve mentioned to Joe (the inventor) that it would make sense to have a Bloob-Allz “Lite” product on the market, made of a slightly less dense/hard material, but equally as durable for this clientele. It’s the major flaw for those that really struggle to get through the pain/discomfort factor of SMR to obtain the benefits.
Lastly, via my experimentation on myself and clients I’ve found that because of the profound “release” or resetting effect of the Bloob-Allz, I recommend they are used in the post-workout equation or the between workout recovery equation of SMR. Using Bloob-Allz during the SMR portion of a warm up can work but, in my opinion, you really should be taking some serious time (10mins) on the product to truly obtain the best benefits. The euphoric feeling after using the Bloob-Allz was so surprising the first time, I had to sit down for 20 minutes to let my system reset. Probably not a good idea to get that sort of relaxation level going for a client right before you make them do a heavy, hard or intense workouts. So I suggest clients (but I give them the option) use the dual (taped up) tennis balls during the SMR series of my warm ups and the Bloob-Allz get saved for post-workout or between workout recovery.
I love this product. I use it every day. Multiple times a day sometimes when my back is really sore or my trigger points from heavy back, deadlift and posture work are wound right up.
I’ve created a review, explanation and demonstration of use video here to describe the nuances of how to use the product as well as show you a unique way I’ve found this product to work elsewhere in the body! Watch that video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW77E4Hi1Mk
No good self myofascial release connoisseur, SMR junkie or someone dealing with mid-back muscle knots or thoracic mobility issues is complete without their own set of Bloob-Allz!
Visit the Bloob-Allz website today for more details and to purchase!
My collection, now complete with Bloob-Allz!
AN EXTRA SPECIAL TREAT: RAFFLE CONTEST – ENDS APRIL 20, 2012
Joe, the inventor of Bloob-Allz has sent me TWO free pairs of Bloob-Allz to raffle off with the unveiling of this product review. Interested in the product after my review? Here’s how you enter:
1) Subscribe to my blog. Pretty easy, look down on your right hand corner. See the grey “Follow +” button, click on that, enter your email address and done. Now, of course it’s a perk for me to have a greater subscribing readership. It allows me to reach a greater audience and gets my name out there more. If you dig the sort of info I put out, I’m happy. If it’s just not your forte, after the winner of the contest has been announced, feel free to unsubscribe (which is just as easy). I promise, I won’t take offense to it. I will also note, you may wish to hang around as I’ve got more giveaways just around the corner and I’m hoping to be able to do this often.
2) Post a comment below answering this question: what is your main interest/feature of trying out this product? Note that all comments have to be moderated by me before showing up so don’t panic if yours doesn’t show up immediately. I will cross check that you’ve subscribed to the blog and then reply to your comment by letting you know that you’re entered.
Rules of the Contest:
1) Each entry is for 1 Bloob-Allz only. I am giving away two Bloob-Allz but they are going to two separate entry winners.
2. Contest dates run: April 3rd, 2012 and last day you can enter is 11:59pm PST Friday, April 20th. The winner will be announced Sunday, April 22nd via the blog so check back on that date (you’ll get an email anyway because you’re subscribed to the blog).
3. Contest is only open to those in Canada AND the United States. I will pay for shipping. If you are outside of Canada or the United States (say the United Kingdom), if you wish to pay for shipping and you win, we can set that up.
4. Like any contest, prizes have no cash value; you may NOT trade for such. Don’t enter the contest unless you’re genuinely interested in owning a set of your very own Bloob-Allz!