It’s become common place to find 2 tennis balls taped together in the fitness industry. Then, there’s businesses that will sell you a more stable version. This one came from physioroom.com. They call it a peanut massager.
The idea is that you place this on the floor and lay over the top of it, face up. You place the massager horizontally across your spine so that the balls are pressing into the muscles either side of your spine. You can either roll on them, or move your arms about in order to release the tension in the muscles around your spine.
I have one HUGE problem with it though.
I’m sure as a product, it’s very good. My problem isn’t with the manufacture or suitability of the product to do the job it was designed for. My problem is with using this method at all in the first place and here’s 3 reasons why:
Reason #1: How the hell do you know?
Your spine may well be tight, but how do you know that using a method like this that forces the body to release that tightness is the best thing for your body to be doing? Do you know why the tightness is there in the first place? What else is going on in the body to make the muscles around your spine hold such tension?
It is possible (and actually very likely) that the tension in the muscles you’re trying to release is actually there because it’s stabilising the spine, and releasing it may well cause further problems.
Excess tension elsewhere in the body creates length/tension imbalances. Some muscles go short and tight and others are forced into a lengthened position. The sustained tension through the short, tight muscles creates an equally sustained tension in the lengthened ones.
What you observe your body (or anyone else’s body) doing is just the tip of the iceberg. The brain is coordinating EVERYTHING the body does, in fractions of a second. How the hell do you know that your intervention with this type of tool is helpful in the big scheme of things?
Reason #2: What a wild goose chase!
Products like this, and foam rolling in general, are actually encouraging you to chase the symptom. You’ll roll on areas like the IT Band, the back, the calves and glutes, while these are, in most cases, merely the symptom. Since the cause of the problem is not dealt with, the practice of foam rolling becomes a temporary measure at best, leading you to ever increasing amounts of time spent engaged in the practice. Not to mention the strains that you’re putting on other areas of your body while to try to release something else. This position is recommended by 220 triathlon magazine:
Reason #3: It’s just one piece of the puzzle
Foam rolling, using any tool you like, is just one piece of the rehab/progress puzzle. The picture usually looks something like this; you foam roll, then stretch, then strengthen the weak muscles, then perform some whole body or multi-joint movement that’s supposed to teach your body how to move better. The trouble is, since only one muscle at once can be targeted with this practice, people get fed up with it and often fail to complete the process. So they just foam roll.
This practice is built on an idea that is fundamentally wrong.
It’s the idea that your body is moving badly, and that human beings know how to consciously correct it.
I mentioned before that your brain is coordinating everything in your body every second of everyday. It’s happening even when you’re asleep, so how did we come to the conclusion that our conscious brains know more than nature?
If your body isn’t moving in an ideal way, that’s because the constraints of the environment in which it’s having to work are restricting it from moving better.
Movement is part of our DNA and it’s the only thing that connects our brains, bodies and emotions. Since movement is a language that your brain fully understands, why waste time separating out all the individual elements?
You can release fascia, stretch short muscles and engage lengthened ones, all in one multi-jointed, multi-planar movement. What takes you 10 minutes in the foam rolling protocol will take you 30 seconds with SMARTT™ movement.
You can even use it to warm-up instead of your regular routine, which means you don’t even need to spend any extra time doing it!
Discover how quickly and effectively you can make a change to your body with my FREE Super 12 Warm-Up Video