#36alive 4: Rolling a Tennis Ball Underfoot

 

img_0153It’s so simple that it seems almost too easy, but spending just a few seconds each morning rolling a tennis ball under your feet could to be the solution to chronic aches and pains, and a valuable method to prevent discomfort from occurring in the first place. So, how does it work?

Rolling a ball under our feet can help release fascia in different parts of the body, helping release tension and encouraging more mobility. The primary way it does this is that the gentle pressure and motion of the ball helps to release and re-integrate the body’s fascia.

fasciasuitFascia is a dense connective tissue that runs throughout the body, holding everything in place, and it seems to be the buzzword of the moment amongst health and movement professionals. This tissue was historically often neglected in human anatomy studies and dissections, where it was cut away to reveal the muscles and organs underneath. Recently however, the importance of this spider web – like substance has become – and is still becoming – apparent.

 

There are three types of fascia:

1)      Superficial which is just below the skin, and holds little pockets of fat. Amongst other functions, it facilitates the movement of the skin and conserves body heat.

2)      Deep fascia which surrounds the muscles, nerves and bones. This is what defines our shape and posture. It is used as a back-up strength system to the muscles, proving extra surface for the muscle attachment and assists muscles in their actions.

3)      Visceral fascia which holds organs in place and protects them.

fasciafuzzWithout fascia we’d be nothing more than a puddle on the floor. It is a adaptable living structure, and we can’t change our posture without improving its quality. So if your posture resembles shoulders hunching forward, that’s because our fascia has adapted and changed to enable that, which is good and bad news. The bad news is that we’re now held in that position with bad posture, the good news is that if it changed to hold us in a bad position, it can be changed back.

There will be more resources to follow throughout the year on how we can improve the quality of our fascia but we will begin with this simple technique of rolling a small ball under the soles of the feet. This technique can really loosen the hamstrings – an area where people often feel tight – amongst other areas (I often feel a difference in my hips). This may seem strange if we think of our body as a separate group of muscles and you may ask the obvious question “how will working on my feet loosen my hamstrings?”, but when we take in to account what we have learnt about the fascia and how it connects everything together in our body, then it makes sense. For more information follow the link to read the blog post from ‘myfiveminuteyoga’….

tennis-ball-foot-massageKeep a tennis ball in your bedroom and use it when you get up in the morning, keep one at work under your desk to roll under your feet throughout the day, or have one handy next to the TV so you remember to use it if you’re sitting down to watch something in the evening. Place your foot on top of the ball, and roll it back and forth along the sole of the foot, almost creating a massage-like sensation. Do this every day for a week and let us know how you feel!

 

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