Struggling with flexibility?
Hate wall splits?
Arms shaking during stretch class?
I’m not a fan of any stretch that causes pain in other areas of the body, that require strength and balance to hold a position, or that results in a feeling of “disconnection” or disorientation after stretching.
One of my favorite alternatives to static stretching is rolling.
You can focus on just the areas where you’re tight.
There’s less of a chance that you have to hold your body in an uncomfortable position.
There’s typically less pain or discomfort involved.
You know instantly if it’s working.
So here are some tips to get you rollin’ in the right direction!
- Size matters. You want to roll as specific a spot as possible. So if you area of tightness is small, or even narrow, use a smaller ball. I typically don’t recommend anything larger than a tennis or lacrosse ball and nothing smaller than a golf ball. Just always make sure you have options to match the size of your tension or tightness.
- Don’t roll areas that don’t need it. Larger aides like foam rollers and rolling wands can create tension in unaffected tissue where there isn’t any to begin with. So it’s not that those tools are bad, just make sure you’re only rolling areas where you actually feel your tension. Pay close attention to large muscle groups like the hamstrings, quads, and back extensors. Like the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
- You’ll know if its working immediately. Try your split, reach palms to floor, or try your backbend. Feel where you are restricted and roll that area for 45-60 secs. Then try again. If the formerly tight spot feels more loose, rolling can be a solution to your flexibility restriction. You may find that another areas feels restricted. Roll the new area and keep going until you achieve your goal or until you stop seeing progress.
- Stretching should be tolerable. Stretching should feel just like that, a stretch. It should not be painful or uncomfortable to hold. Compare it to stretching your pinky finger back, or performing an upper trapezius neck stretch. Those are simple stretches that no one typically complains about in terms of significant pain or discomfort. All stretches should feel just like that.
- If it’s not helping, it’s not the solution, so don’t keep doing it. Stretching isn’t the only option for achieving your flexibility goals, so if you feel like you’re stretching a lot and it’s not working, it’s probably not the solution to your flexibility restriction. Look into balance and coordination training or core strengthening, two other big factors which restrict flexibility particularly for dancers.
Do you dread stretching because it’s uncomfortable and painful? Try rolling instead and see what happens.
Tried rolling and gotten results? Message us and let us know!
Rolling not working for you like you thought? Message us for a free consultation so we can help you figure out the next step to safely achieve your mobility goals.
AZ Dance Med is here for you.