"I see aching people making movement mistakes constantly. All the slumping, leaning, walking like a duck, and bad breathing habits add up over time. They lead to pain, injury, and if left unchecked, surgery medication, and more pain. Let’s put it this way: If you knew that you could prevent disease from crippling you twenty years from now, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to get on the right track and avoid the triggers that result in disease?”
Since we are in #selflovejanuary, I thought we should look at a book that really focuses on self care. The Roll Model is a bible for anyone who has a body, and wants to take care of it. It is not an exercise routine you need to learn and do, rather it is a way to self massage, to ease aches and pains by yourself without having to wait for weeks to finally get an appointment with a specific practitioner, only to pay your week’s worth of organic groceries and feel the aches and pains again just a few days later. Learning how to roll your own body with the help of balls (and some other tools), will make you in charge of your own aches and pains, and ultimately your health.
“Sadly, there is a global issue that many in the fitness community overlook or ignore. The easy sell of “weight loss” or “fast results” drives people and dollars toward unhealthy biomechanical practices. Students flock to classes and trainings because of these lures, and studios, gyms, and clubs repeat exercises and drills that fail to address functional imbalances, weaknesses, or postural faults. Students walk in with bad posture and aches and pains, then work out in a way that reinforces their poorly coordinated blind spots, unknowingly perpetuating their imbalances. Their workouts set them up for further weakness and injury until one day their bodies give out. This is not a dig at any specific format or method, just a statement that embodied anatomy in a fundamental part of training that any teacher or coach world with human bodies should learn.”
Let’s face it, we all have discomfort somewhere, whether it is when we wake up in the morning and can barely move or after a long day of carrying around our kids and lifting things in all the wrong ways. When I work with clients, there is always a complaint around some kind of bundles of nerves that tend to pinch with the wrong move or too much stress, for example the lower back. That is why I personally love the rolling method, and have employed it in my training sessions for the last decade. When I work with clients one-on-one, rolling is always part of a session, especially as a warm up. When we roll out tension in our tissues, they are then so much more effective when we work them with specific exercises. In my mind it is crazy to continue to attend bootcamp after intense bootcamp to burn away calories and fat, but walk away with aches and pains every time. Exercising should be a way of self care rather than punishment. We should use exercise to make our bodies healthier long-term for many, many years to come. I use these balls for exercise videos on my YouTube channel, and I use them every day by myself. Yes, every day. They are an integral part of my self care, even if it is just for 2 minutes before I fall into bed.
“People should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves. Whether you’re sitting at the table, flying, traveling for hours in a car, or lifting your kids, you’re going to be in compromised positions and you need to be able to treat yourself. It’s your human right.”
When rolling we use a ball to grip the skin, so it can slide away from the underlying tissue underneath. This works similar to getting a massage, except you don’t need to spend a lot of time and money to do this. You can carry your balls around with your anywhere - at work, on the plane, and in your home - to get immediate release when you feel something getting stuck or painful in your body. As I said, I use this technique as soon as I feel my back pinching from too much wrong lifting of Baby Zand.
Rolling releases the fascia - the “skin” that surrounds your muscles and gets it to move around more easily. This is important, because often it is stuck fascia - not tight muscles - that inhibit us from moving in certain ways, for example leaning down to tie our shoes comfortably.
If you don’t want to immediately invest in the specific Yoga TuneUp balls by Jill Miller, I think the easiest alternative you probably have lying around is a tennis ball. Tennis balls are just as pliable, giving just the right amount of pressure. The only downside is that they are often not as grippy, and may slide away sometimes. Other tools you may already have, and you can try out are foam rollers, lacrosse balls, softer Barre like balls, or even yoga blocks. Just make sure you don’t use anything too hard, because you don’t want to injure yourself when trying to take better care of yourself. Once you feel you are ready to “graduate” you will be excited about the real Yoga TuneUp balls, because some of the rolling techniques like shearing will be so much easier.
Here are some of the fantastic ways rolling works:
Relieves aches and pains from areas in your body that are overused (the one hip you always balance your child on), underused (your glutes - it’s always the glutes from too much sitting!) or misused (for example your posture)
Enhances your breathing capacity: breath is life, and the way we sit and move deeply impacts how we breathe. When we don’t breathe optimally, we also don’t get enough energy to our brain and limbs, we can’t fuel our metabolism properly, and we put our body into an artificial state of stress, which can be detrimental to our health.
Increases your energy levels: stuck areas hold on to energy that you could use somewhere else like in your foggy brain. Rolling out these tense areas helps to release energy, as well as for blood to flow more freely, transporting energy into every part of your body.
Reduces stress: stress affects your entire body with the way you hold yourself, the way you breathe, the way your circulation and your metabolism work, and so much more. By bringing your body into a relaxed state - I talk about this endlessly here and here and anytime anyone will listen - you will lower stress hormones and help your body balance itself out again.
Increases your mobility: maybe you have come to the point in your training where you just can’t seem to progress any further. Maybe your flexibility has halted? Maybe your strength is not going up? Then rolling can help to make sure your entire body is working together. When your hamstrings are tight, rolling the rest of the body helps because the hamstrings are connected to your lower and upper back, your shoulders, neck, and jaw as well as downstream to your calves, ankles, and feet. Our body is one system that works together, so when we often isolate certain areas, for example in bicep curls, we can only see more progress when we bring the entire body back into balance.
Improves your posture: posture is at an all time low because of the endless hours we sit. When we stand up, our hip flexors are tight, pulling us slightly forward and giving us this rounded back look even when standing and walking.