If there is one thing I’ve learned over my 20 plus years as a Pilates teacher, it’s this: stretching and releasing tightness in your muscles is equally as important as strengthening your muscles when it comes to functioning your best and feeling your best!
In fact, what I have found in my own body over the years is that to stay as balanced as possible I need to incorporate a regular Pilates practice with a variety of exercises designed to both stretch and strengthen my muscles, but I also need to have specific time to release tight muscles if I want to keep my body feeling the best. My favorite way to relax and release tight muscles is a self massage technique called rolling.
I have to tell you it took me a little while to convince my mind that rolling wasn’t just a luxury, it wasn’t just a “when I had free time kind of thing”…it was a needed health tool that was important for keeping my body happy and feeling great. No rolling isn’t a workout, but yes it will make big changes in how your body feels and will even help you feel more motivated to do your strengthening and cardio workouts, because you will feel better in your body.
So what exactly are you doing for your body when you use a self massage technique like rolling?
Here’s a quick list of the benefits of rolling (self massage):
- You are increasing circulation and blood flow to tight muscles and surrounding tissues in your body. Without good circulation those muscles will stay stiff, tight and unhappy. Improved circulation can enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells. As cellular health improves, tissues function more efficiently. More efficient functioning leads to the removal of waste products and may increase the absorption of excess fluids and reduce swelling in soft tissues.
- You are applying pressure with rolling techniques relaxes muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Rolling techniques relax muscle tissue, which can reduce painful contractions and spasms.
- Self massage techniques can also reduce nerve compression. To understand this, consider that when muscles are contracted, they sometimes compress the nerves around them. When these muscles are relaxed, the nerves are no longer compressed, and, in theory, can get proper nutrients and operate more efficiently. The nerves can assume their normal work of transmitting messages to and from the brain, which improves functioning of the muscles and organs.
- You are specifically working on your “troubled spots” as I like to call them! All of us have imbalances in our muscles because of our movement patterns in life. A well rounded, whole body movement practice (like Pilates) can be amazing for keeping your body more balanced out, but it will never completely balance you out! Adding in a self massage technique like rolling can help you target areas that are especially tight and tense in your body and will help you create even more balance in your body. More balance in your body (and less tightness and troubled spots) means you will just plain feel better and function better!
Want to see what rolling could do for you? Join my 75 minute workshop to learn rolling techniques for your neck, shoulders and back. If you don’t already have massage therapy balls you can purchase them in our online store and pick them up at the studio or have them shipped to you.
For this workshop, I’ll be using 3 different sizes of balls: the Alpha Ball, the Yoga Tune Up Balls, and the Massage therapy plus balls.
If you’d would like to attend the workshop, but you don’t want to invest in balls until you know if you like it — watch this video!