Suffering from tight, sore muscles? As Jill Miller, co-founder of Tune Up Fitness Worldwide, creator of the corrective exercise format Yoga Tune Up and author of The Roll Model would say, you’ve got issues in your tissues. Your muscle tissues, that is. “Whether you are a top athlete, a new mama with sore shoulders or someone who works at a desk all day the treatment is the same,” Miller said.
She explained that relief will come from targeted techniques that can help to improve your mobility and even increase your energy levels. The self-massage exercises she offers in The Roll Model are designed to restore mobility and relieve soreness so that, as Miller put it, “you can do what you want to do, but better and pain free.” Here she shares a few of the most helpful rolling techniques from her book that you can use to help relieve and relax your sore muscles.
“Dysfunctional breathing patterns are both a result of stress and can create anxiety and unease,” Miller said. “Remodeling the tensions in your abdominal tissues immediately improves your access to deeper breathing and will help your whole body to relax as a result.” In her book, she explains that abdominal breathing, which focuses on the diaphragm and transversus abdominis (or “the muscle that wraps horizontally around your waist from front to back”), is the most calming.
While lying on your back, take deep breaths in and out, “think of a sleeping baby’s belly inflating and deflating,” Miller explains in her book. Practice this while lying still for a few moments, and aim to maintain this focused, deep breathing technique through all of the following exercises.
“Our feet have 33 joints, and yet most feet don’t have a movement diet that exercises all of the muscles helping the joints to function properly,” Miller explained. “Save your sole after the wear and tear of workouts as well as uncomfortable footwear and more. “
One therapy ball exercise that miller suggests is called the “arch cross.” Place your left arch on top of the ball while keeping your heel on the ground and then take 5 to 10 deep abdominal breaths (hold onto a chair or stool for extra balance if needed). Pivot your ankle from side to side 10 times and attempt to “smush” the ball as you move your foot back and forth over it, then repeat on the other foot.
“Type on your keyboard all day? Text a lot? Our hands grasp constantly in this day and age,” Miller explained. “Help your thumb be more human-like with this easy move.”
In her book she directs the reader to spread the right thumb and index finger on one ball and compress for 20 to 30 seconds to feel the stretch. “Then contract your thumb and index finger into the ball, followed by another 20 to 30 seconds of relaxed stretching with deep breathing.”
“All you active people out there pound the pavement and put a lot of stress and overuse on your knees, but rolling can help erase away discomfort,” Miller said.
Place two therapy balls under your right thigh, and scissor your left leg behind you slightly. You can lie down on your right side with your head propped on a block to minimize the amount of pressure on the balls, or sit up straight (as pictured here) to drive more bodyweight into them. Bend and straighten your right knee to massage your IT band and move the balls higher or lower on your thigh to target various areas of the IT band.
“One of the biggest complaints I hear about in class is a tight upper back,” Miller said. “We stress, we lift, we carry kids and more but with this unwind move we can literally feel the tightness loosen almost instantly.”
In her book, Miller directs readers to begin this move by balancing the upper back on two balls. “Slowly roll them down your spine, stripping the erectors until you land around the bra/’bro’ strap area. This is a super-slow-motion action—a long, luxurious, deep caress wave,” she explains. Finish by reversing the motion and repeat slowly three to four times.
“We strain our neck multiple ways every day from keeping our eyes on our kids, craning to see computer screens and fitting in hard core sessions at the gym,” Miller said “It’s time to relax and roll out the strain.”
For this move, referred to as “mid-neck unguck” in her book, she directs readers to simply lie with two balls (preferably toted together by a mesh drawstring bag) underneath the neck (as pictured to the left). “Roll the balls down one or two inches to find some new territory in the middle of your neck. Rest with the balls centered on either side of your neck for 10 abdominal breaths.”
“Sitting is a killer for your bottom,” Miller said. “It progressively weakens your glutes and causes the muscles and their connective tissues to have less ‘bounce.’ Use this move to maneuver your bottom away from the side of your thigh, and re-sculpt your tush to fit more snugly on the back of your hip.” Click here to watch Miller perform and explain this move.