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Roll Call

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Roll Call

How often do you arrive home from the gym, plop on the sofa, and longingly think about how great a massage would be for your tired, aching muscles? Well, small ball release and body rolling are programs designed to self-massage sore, tight muscles.

How often do you arrive home from the gym, plop on the sofa, and longingly think about how great a massage would be for your tired, aching muscles? Well, small ball release and body rolling are programs designed to self-massage sore, tight muscles.

These activities use a variety of small balls to stretch not just the muscle belly, but also the connective tissues that are difficult to lengthen using static stretching alone. The balls used for small ball release and body rolling are not the large fitness balls used for stability exercises. Certainly the balls used for body therapy are pliable like fitness balls, but they are much smaller, ranging in size from a tennis ball to a volleyball.

Both small ball release and body rolling are specialty classes taught by instructors who are certified in this specific type of body therapy. That’s because an extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology is required to teach a safe and effective body therapy class.

Stretch to Length

To truly understand the healing nature of these body therapy disciplines we must understand the structure and anatomy of the muscle as it stretches. Most people understand that stretching tight muscle groups can help prevent injury and make muscles longer, leaner, and more defined. However, static stretches primarily target the muscle and tendons that connect muscle to bone. Instead, we must lengthen the muscle’s fascia, the part of the muscle that resists stretching, in order to gain flexibility and length in the muscle.

The fasciae are sheets of connective tissue that surround and connect muscle fibres into separate groups. These muscle groups interrelate, so if one muscle group becomes shortened by poor posture, aging, stress, and trauma, the other muscle groups are directly affected. When the healthy group compensates, it distorts the length and flexibility in surrounding, previously healthy groups.

For years massage therapists and physiotherapists have used soft tissue massage and deep release massage to treat muscle tightness. Now, small ball release and body rolling can aid people in self-therapy, allowing people to be proactive in dealing with muscle health and wellness.

Small Ball Release

In a small ball release program an instructor either leads you in a one-on-one session or in a small group. You lie on a small inflatable ball (five to seven inches in diameter) and use your body weight to create a force that presses against the targeted muscle and connective tissues. As you breathe deeply, you concentrate on pushing the ball into and between your muscles. The ball creates pressure that encourages the muscle to “let go” or release. The amount of body weight exerted on the ball and the size of the ball determine the intensity of the release; the larger the ball, the less intense the release.

Small ball release was developed by Canadian Cheryl Soleway, a physiotherapist and conditioning coach for professional sports teams. She developed an effective way to relieve not only muscles sore from strength training and sports, but also from work- and stress-related tension.

Body Rolling

Similar to small ball release, body rolling was designed by Yamuna Zake, a seasoned hatha yoga teacher from New York. Zake designed body rolling to allow people to work on themselves, to lengthen tight muscles, and to aid in relieving stress from muscle strain and injury. As in small ball release, the goal of body rolling is to have the ball penetrate muscle fibres and get into the spaces between muscle groups. The result is a huge sigh of relief as knots release and your body relaxes. Body rolling works you through a specific series of routines, allowing you to relieve stress and tension using your own body weight and the ball.

Both small ball release and body rolling are wonderful complements to most people’s health and wellness regimens; however, small ball release is contraindicated for those who suffer from osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, blood pressure conditions, diabetes, and some circulatory and skin conditions. Always consult your physician before beginning a new type of activity.

Have a ball rolling your way to better health.

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