Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

Roll Your Troubles Away

­Foam RollerCertainly for us guys, stretching the way we were taught is not fun or even productive. Men often come to me because they go to a yoga class and realize how tight they really are. Lying on a rubber mat next to a young woman wrapping her legs around her neck when you can’t even sit on the floor with your legs crossed is more than embarrassing. It’s humbling.

I   cheated.  I got Rolfed when I was in my early 20s. In the course of 10 sessions and the subsequent nine months of my body letting go, I went from a body of solid gristle to being able to sit on the floor with my legs fully crossed and knees flat on the floor–my fascia, the connective tissue that becomes scar tissue and gristle, had become supple for the first time in my life.

A foam roller isn’t Rolfing, but it isn’t stretching either. Akin to Rolfing, it creates a release which is different than a stretch. Look at this way: you can’t stretch a steel cable as if it’s a bungee cord. To take the deep adhesions out of the fascia you need to release the hydrogen bonds that act as the dried glue making the tissue non-resilient. The edge of my arm does that for my Rolfing clients. The edge of a hard foam roller does it for others.

Using your own gravity you allow yourself to slowly relax your weight on to the roller. For best results, you aren’t rolling, you are melting. Rolling on hard tissue is just like rubbing it. We know that’s not going to release the deeper and harder tissue. You need to go slowly so the deeper adhesions release. More yoga studios in Sandpoint are incorporating foam rollers in their classes.

The outside of the upper leg, the Iliotibial band, is usually the hardest and tightest part of our bodies. Rolling this band can be much more effective than stretching. Unfortunately I have seen men who were too tight for rolling to be effective–I was one of them. In that case it takes someone who knows what they are doing to get the process started. When I Rolfed elite runners in Arizona, I found once we got their legs to loosen and straighten, rolling was all they needed for maintenance.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advanced Rolfer,, with 33 yrs experience – call if you have questions: 265.8440. 

Photo by: flickr – Beth77


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