Recently, my girlfriend asked me to teach her some of that “rolling on the ground stuff.”
I was surprised.
Even though she’s active and walks alot, up to this point she has not been ‘into’ fitness, per se. She explained that she was attracted somehow to what she saw in my “rolling around on the ground.” Intuitively she knew that it would feel good, while making her stronger and more fit. And be fun.
My Body Likes the Foam Roller
I’ve been experimenting with alot of ground-based movement drills – as found in Scott Sonnon’s TACFIT program – to supplement my kettlebell training.
I do it because my body is really liking it. After 15 minutes of what looks like rolling around on the ground like a crazy man from one contortion to another, I stand up well wiped out. Yet my body feels loose and long and resilient; I effortlessly slip over (bend over) to touch my toes.
In contrast, an intense kettlebell session leaves my body a little stiff — I can’t touch my toes. Not a big deal, but I have to purposely employ compensation drills to release any tension build up. Expected with this type of training. Still, the biofeedback here is a stronger posture, better alignment — my body likes kettlebell moves also. Keeps my low back pain-free, too.
Rolling On The Ground
So, I had that gal out on the garage floor ‘rolling around on the floor.’ And she was still smiling at the end – a good sign! 🙂
No specific drills were taught at this point. I just encouraged her own creativity to move in all directions. From standing to the floor, and then back to standing. While on the floor, roll from back to belly, then belly to back. Move forward, then backward. She discovered a variety of ways to mix it up – and in the process used almost every muscle and range of motion available.
Basically, it boiled down to 3 questions:
1. how can I move up and down?
2. how can I move back and forth?
3. how can I move side to side?
4. how can I move more smoothly, more gracefully, with more control, i.e. better.
I think this kind of training is vital. It is making me more mobile – and mobility is the key word as we age. But better than just stretching, the ‘rolling around on the ground’ puts improved mobility to work, orchestrating all the muscles in the body to move. And the blood pumps fiercely – enough intensity for heart health. It’s really good stuff – and both my girlfriend and I feel much better afterwards. Maybe you will too.
My Favorite Foam Roller
Using a foam roller is the easiest way to activate all muscle tissue. Studies show that using a foam roller can decrease muscle and joint pain, increase circulation and flexibility, improve range-of-motion, better balance and improve gait. Regular use of foam rollers can be beneficial in preventing or recovering from injuries, maintaining and improving mobility and preparing the body for peak performance.
My favorite ones are from TriggerPoint. They are stable, durable and have the right kind of texture to get deeper into the tissue. You should pick a large version though, I feel the small ones are impractical.
The following excerpt is from an interview of Scott Sonnon, the creator of the TACFIT program among many other things. His description of mobility in training (like my ‘rolling on the ground’) impressed me.
10 Questions with One of the World’s Top Special Forces Trainers
Can you explain why your techniques are so much better than traditional stretching for flexibility?
Scott: Understanding why mobility exercise produces superior results over static stretching requires a quick primer from the leading edge of anatomical theory.
The structure of the body resembles two bags connected to each other. The inner bag contains the hard stuff: bones and cartilage. The outer bag holds the muscle, and it’s tacked down to the inner bag at the points we refer to as “insertions.” If you want to restore the resting length of a muscle, you must first release the inner bag at the points where it connects two or more bones – the “joint capsules.”
Releasing the inner bag not only gives you the ability to load and absorb resistance in exercise, but since the body’s balance, coordination, agility and reactive strength all lies there, it also improves your sports performance and the contractability of your muscles, allowing you to grow bigger and stronger.
Both static flexibility training and regular resistance training cause the outer bag to become glued down to other bags, forming attachments or “adhesions.” If you don’t use mobility exercise to restore the resting length of these tissues, the tightly knotted muscles become thick and leathery, and they shorten. Short, tight muscles have less ability to contract, which means you’ll plateau fast in your training, and you’ll stop growing.
Mobility keeps your outer bags fluid and prevents them from being glued down. It also releases the inner bag, so you’re always growing…
Please, read the entire article here.
And be sure mobility is a part of your training!