Strategy and tactic
Strategically, we need to approach Rolling Like a Ball as if we were rolling up in the sky and not rolling down into the floor, and tactically we need to cortically forget that the mat exists;)
No Fear of Falling
The basic premise of the Rolling Like a Ball exercise: Rolling effortlessly like a ball is only possible if we are not afraid of falling. The chief obstacle that inhibits anyone from rolling effortlessly – except in cases like hyperlodosis or hyperkyphosis, of course – is fear of falling. However, some people can do the Rolling Like a Ball exercise naturally even though they have not learnt the techniques to do it effectively, but some people can’t. If you are one of them, our post today is especially for you.
Rest in Safety
The first thing for you to do is to reduce your fear of falling by learning how to ground your pelvis to the floor and in the sky. And this is how we do it.
Sit on the mat with bent knees. Rock your sitting bones to and fro a few times and then stop the movement just behind your sitting bones. Activate your Power Engine and use your hands to initiate the pressing, squeezing and pulling technique to draw the cheeks of your bum together and then slide your feet off the floor without tilting your pelvis forward. Stay in this position when we continue with grounding our pelvis in the sky.
Continue in the position and try pumping your arms to and fro, like you are doing the Hundred exercise while bringing your torso and knees together. The kinaesthetic experience of pulsing your arms will help you to understand that before you roll back you need to connect your ribcage with your thighs through the use of your Power Engine and shoulder girdle, and not through the use of your upper back or head.
To the science of Rolling Like a Ball
Rolling Like a Ball is classified as a basic Pilates exercise but in actual fact it is rather difficult to understand and implement. Additionally, it has always been challenging medical science’s perspective on the function of the vertebrae and disc.
The difficulties of this exercise are based on the following facts:
♦ The human body is not by nature a round object, so to make it move likewise requires a high level of knowledge and understanding.
♦ The human body is also not wired to move backwards, consequently, any movement backwards triggers a certain level of uncertainty.
♦ In the Rolling Like a Ball exercise our body is placed in a very narrow base of support which triggers the fear of falling.
♦ The relationship in distance between the thighs and the hip joint is rather challenging.
3 Important questions
Let us iron out these facts of difficulty in the Rolling Like a Ball exercise by asking 3 important questions:
1. How can we make our body, which is not shaped like a ball, move like a ball?
2. At which point of the rolling do we need to apply a “shock” in order to be able to maintain and control the dynamics of the movement?
3. How do we counteract and overcome the downforce of gravity in the down- and upwards roll?
Let us also shed some light on the mechanics and principles that govern Rolling Like a Ball.
Mechanics and principles
Rolling like a Ball means “rolling with control” instead of “rolling with a momentum”. The control comes from our Power Engine and not from the back of our neck.
Watch the principles and mechanics of Rolling Like a Ball in our video below.
The ineffective way of rolling
Using the momentum is ineffective because it initiates the rolling-down by moving the upper back and the rolling-up by using the head, which will also cause a sinking in the chest. This way of rolling creates pressure in the vertebral disc due to the unstable motion of the spine, which is also the reason why surgeons and doctors claim that the Rolling Like a Ball exercise is bad for the back.
But, there is a way that actually is a real treat for our back, too. So, let’s get into it …
The effective way of rolling
If we use our Power Engine, the roll will be effective because in the roll-down our ribcage will fix to our pelvis, so in the roll-up our pelvis will not tilt forward; this way our pelvic bone will not move away from our navel.
So, the only power used to control the roll is that of our Power Engine. In greater detail, the use of our Power Engine results in core stability as it connects our pelvis to our ribcage on the down-roll, and our shoulder girdle stabilizers to our gluteus on the up-roll.
When you manage to achieve both of these connections, then there will be no space between your sacrum and the mat, and you will be able to suspend the rolling at any point of the trajectory effortlessly.
For a detailed description on how to activate your Power Engine click here.
And now, back to our essential questions…
The magic of our Power Engine and shoulder girdle stabilizers
1. How do we make our body that is not shaped like a ball move like one?
By activating our Power Engine and our gluteus in order to lift our pelvis into a functional posterior tilt. And by then pressing our ribcage down to our pelvis via our shoulder girdle stabilizers, before we start the process of rolling, in order to create a convexity in our lower back.
Voilà, our body-ball.
2. At which point of the rolling do we have to apply some kind of a “shock” in order to maintain and control the dynamics of the movement?
There are 2 places where the manifestation of energy undergoes a certain change; on the way down to the mat the energy accelerates, and on the way up the energy decelerates. So, a controlled shock needs to be applied at precisely these two intersections, where the energy changes in order to avoid a hard fall unto the mat on the way down, and a “getting stuck” on the way up.
3. How do we counteract and overcome the forces of gravity in the process of rolling?
We do this by using our Power Engine and shoulder girdle stabilizers in order to connect our pelvis to our ribcage to one functional unity.
Try it & fly with it!
How did you like our blogpost today? What are your experiences with rolling? Is your whole spine – vertebra by vertebra – already imprinted on the mat when you do the Rolling Like a Ball exercise? Do you have any strategies or tactics you would like to share with us?
As always, if you find our post useful and would like to share it with someone, we’d be forever grateful!