As a Yoga Tune Up teacher and Rolfing practitioner I spend a lot of my work life getting people to roll around on balls. Yoga Tune Up (YTU) therapy balls to be precise. And since I do this with an awful lot of athletes, as well as people recovering from injuries and surgeries, I am frequently asked how the therapy balls differ from lacrosse balls or foam rollers, the two other most prevalent self-care tools. Let the debate begin!
1. Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls:
Let’s just be clear that this is not an unbiased article. So instead of pretending to be an impartial journalist, I’ll instead tell you why they get my vote.
I’ve been a manual therapist, as a Rolfing practitioner, for thirteen years now. For many of those years I struggled with how frustrating it was that I couldn’t find any tool or system to send people home with so that they could “Rolf themselves” in their time when they weren’t on my table. I do find that most people need the sophisticated eyes and hands of a practitioner to unravel their compensatory patterns, at least initially, but as a general rule I adhere to the belief that our ultimate goal as practitioners should always be to get people to be the best self-healing organisms that they can be. And often smart self-care systems make a world of difference towards achieving this goal.
Enter Yoga Tune Up. As it is a conscious corrective exercise form, Yoga Tune Up is vastly more than just balls [enter your favorite balls joke here]. But for the purposes of this article I will focus, ahem, on their balls, though I do utilize the corrective exercise work with clients and students just as much, if not more than I use the therapy ball work.
The perks of the YTU therapy balls:
Grippy: The rubber the YTU therapy balls are made of allows for a yummy amount of grab to your soft tissue, especially if you roll in the buff, which I highly recommend (but we do not actually do in my group classes, so don’t get on a plane expecting to show up to a room full of nudies or anything). This grip is important because it allows you to hook into the superficial fascia and create the all-important shear in that layer. This will also create an effect in the deep fascia because connective tissue being, well, connected, all the layers are tethered to one another. Most injuries are fascial and not muscular (more on this in next month’s post), that said, keeping the fascia hydrated so that all of our soft tissue layers can glide on one another, as they are designed to, will go a long way toward not only decreasing chronic pain and rehabilitating any current injuries, but also decreasing your risk for future injuries.
Pliable: The rubber the YTU therapy balls are made of is responsive. It has some give and therefore yields at bony prominences. This is important because you don’t wind up just reaming at your bones, which is at best unpleasant and at worst injurious. This also shields you from some of the risk of impinging nerves, which we clearly don’t want.