Pilates Rolling Like a Ball

Rolling like a ball (or spinal rolling) – exercise that came into physical therapy from Pilates and is one of the effective tools in spinal rehabilitation. Although might seem too vigorous in acute back pain cases, it does bring great back pain relief when things start ‘rolling’. Performed as a part of a sequence designed for every specific spinal condition differently.

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The correct way to do Pilates rolling:

  • Fold a bath towel double and place it on a carpeted area of floor to roll on. Do not attempt to roll in bed.
  • Lower yourself down carefully to lie on your back on the floor.

Gather up both thighs and link your fingers under them, or around your knees, whichever is easier

  • Lift up your head and neck so your low back makes a wide rounded ‘C’ shape on the floor. (To help keep your upper trunk forward you may need to bend both elbows out to the side as you hold your legs.) The stiffer you are the more difficult it will be to get into this position.
  • Once in position, rock gently back and forth along the spine with small amplitude movements.
  • Attempt to pivot on the stiff link in your spine which will be obvious by its ‘bruised-bone’ tenderness as you roll over it.
  • Use your legs for leverage. As you straighten them out they alter your weight distribution and make it easier to tip towards the lower end of the spine. If you keep your legs bunched up on your chest it will focus the rolling towards the upper end of the spine and require more jerking effort of your head to bring it down to the lower end.
  • Continue for 15–30 seconds, trying to relax as much as possible as you do it. Let the gentle rocking motion mesmerise you.
  • To rest, put one foot on the floor, and then the other, holding on with your tummy as you lower each leg. Leave both knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  • Resume at one-minute intervals and repeat up to three times.
  • This is not an easy exercise to overdo. Cramp of the tummy muscles and the muscles at the front of your neck may be the only things that stop you.


Your own physical condition and diagnosis may require specific modifications or precautions. Before undertaking any course of self-treatment you should consult a doctor or a physiotherapist.

Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression:

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