Having a ball: myofascial release explained
Angela Muller-Habig, a yoga teacher based in Abu Dhabi, always travels with three small balls - each a different size - in her handbag. “If I’m waiting in line somewhere, I’m rolling out my hands, I’m rolling out my jaw, I’m rolling out my temples,” she says. “If I’m on the plane I am definitely rolling. I’m rolling out my feet all the time.”
Mina Lee, yoga teacher and co-owner of Abu Dhabi’s YogaOne studio, calls the two tennis balls she carries around in her bag “my favourite massage therapist”.
Rhys Hamer, an instrinsic biomechanics coach and trainer from Dubai, is never far from his assortment of neon foam rollers, golf and rubber balls, and massage stick.
Their target? Fascia, one of the biggest buzzwords in wellness right now. Fascia is the system that encases literally everything in the body, including muscles, organs, joints and bones. It’s been compared to a spiderweb, to the casing on a sausage, the pith of an orange, a matrix and even a wetsuit. And the people who study it believe it is essential to how well we function and how good we feel.
Mainstream medicine is still catching up to this exploding field, however: next month will see experts in the field meet in Berlin, for what is only the Fifth International Fascia Congress.
Lauren Roxburgh, author of the book Taller, Slimmer, Younger, believes foam rolling is key to better self-care, emotional and physical, and promises that following her plan for 21 days will leave the body feeling elongated, relaxed, toned, vibrant and, most importantly, aligned.
“Because the fascia is an interconnected web of tissue that covers the entire body, when one area of the body is misshapen or thrown out of alignment, it naturally affects other connected areas of the body, throwing them out of alignment, too,” she writes. “Healthy fascia is thin, smooth, hydrated and resilient, like plastic wrap; unhealthy fascia is thick and holds toxins and stress. It’s this unhealthy fascia that we think of as scar tissue, thickness and knots.”
Emilie Mikulla, a yoga teacher in Dubai, regularly holds workshops in the Roll Model Method, which uses an assortment of rubber Yoga Tune Up balls to teach self-myofascial release. Mikulla fell in love with the balls after trying them to address the “terrible” back pain she suffered after falling out of a school bus as a teenager. “As soon as I put them on my lower back, I just knew it was a cathartic moment for me; that was the missing piece for me,” she says.
Mat Dryden, owner of Abu Dhabi’s Cobra Fitness in Al Bandar and a professional...