What do leading yoga teachers like Ambika Selvan (pictured at left) and KU’s nationally acclaimed Strength & Conditioning Coach Andrea Hudy and tennis balls have in common? Besides the fact that they’re awesome in their own right, each is at the forefront of delivering myofascial release in an effort to both preserve and enhance mobility. Walk into the strength and conditioning facilities at KU and you’ll find student athletes dedicating precious time to rolling their feet, legs etc. over a variety of small sports balls before their work begins.
But you don’t have to be a premier athlete or yogi to benefit from myofascial release. It can benefit each of us by increasing circulation and “igniting” the fascial tissue in our bodies, helping us to remain mobile, protect against injury and build resiliency. It can help BIG TIME with balance and overall range of motion.
So what exactly is fascia? It’s a thin, TOUGH, network of tissue that supports really everything inside our body. It’s like scaffolding for the entire internal structure – or think of it like SPANX worn on the inside (But minus any muffin tops; you know what I’m talking about, right ladies?) Fascia is a densely woven tissue covering and supporting every muscle, bone, nerve, organ and vein in our body. Studied extensively by John Barnes, PT, its role in supporting our body is under appreciated. https://myofascialrelease.com/about/ But its role in our overall health and mobility is of growing interest to medical researchers.
Using the simplicity of a single tennis ball (or lacrosse ball or golf ball or other small sports ball) you can help your fascia do the job nature intended. By slowly allowing key areas of your body to melt and then move across the surface of the sports balls (feet are a great place to start) your entire fascial system will benefit. This combination of compression plus active movement can bring about long lasting benefits for your body, reducing tension and increasing mobility.
There are plenty of examples on the internet, but you can just start at home by standing and placing your foot over the surface of the small sports ball, letting it “melt” or relax over the ball and then begin to move your foot back and forth and then up and down over the surface of the ball. Don’t rush the process & be sure to cover the entire surface of the back of your feet. If you’ve ever used a foam roller, this same approach applies but in a more targeted fashion.
Myofascial release is an excellent example of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. Incorporating it at least once a week, spending a minimum of two minutes on each targeted area is suggested, though it is clearly a case of more frequency bringing about greater results. Slow and steady wins this race.
If you ever get the opportunity to participate in one of the various clinics or workshops Ambika or Coach Hudy offer, you’ll come away with a new love and appreciation for the humble little sports balls and the fascinating internal network of fascial tissue. They’re both incredibly talented in the field of body mechanics and mobility, and are passionate about sharing their knowledge with others.
More about each of these amazing women can be found on line. Click on their link above and roll on over to their websites!