Roll Down

Dose

Perform 2 sets of 6 repetitions on each side each day. Continue using this exercise twice a week after symptoms resolve to maintain mobility in the back and legs.

Purpose

This exercise will teach the body how to use the hip stabilizers without loading the lower back or knee excessively. The exercise also serves to challenge balance and to strengthen and stretch the hamstrings, which can cause dysfunction when tight and weak.

Method

Stand with the feet under the hips. Take a half step forward, and make sure both feet and hips are pointing directly ahead. The front knee should be bent just enough so that it is not locked, and it should not bend throughout the exercise.

From this position, roll your upper body down the front leg, starting by rounding the neck and upper back and finishing by bringing the belly button close to the thigh. Roll down until you feel a stretch in the back of the front leg. Keep all of your body weight on the heel of the front leg, using the back leg to touch the ground for balance only.

Once fully bent forward, try to relax and hang the upper body like a ragdoll. This will relax the low back and place the emphasis on the front leg. Once relaxed, make sure both hips are pointing towards the ground. You can do this by consciously rotating the hip of the back leg towards the ground. Try to keep the hips even throughout the entire exercise, as this will engage the hip musculature.

Once the hips are even, imagine pushing the ground away with the heel of the front leg while rolling the upper body up onto the legs in a fluid motion. Imagine stacking the upper body directly onto the vertical leg you are standing on. Roll upwards until you are standing fully upright with a neutral pelvis, and then repeat. You should feel this in the hip and back of the thigh.

Common Mistakes

• Lifting the upper body up using the back muscles. When the body is accustomed to lifting the trunk using the lower back muscles, it will attempt to do this when you try to roll up. You can tell if the lower back is engaged because the lower back will be stiff, and will not bend or roll up fluidly. The best way to prevent this is to relax and hang the upper body over the leg as if you are a ragdoll, and keep it relaxed as you apply pressure to the ground with the heel of the front leg, engaging the muscles of the leg during the roll up.

• Bending the front knee. Another trick the body will use is to bend the front knee when trying to push the floor away at the bottom of the movement. This will lead to engagement of the front of the thigh, and reduce engagement of the hip muscles. Try to keep the knee stationary during the entire movement, bent just enough so that it is not locked. When you roll up from the bottom of the movement, the movement should occur at the hip, with the knee staying still. Try to feel a stretch in the back of the thigh at the bottom of the moment, this means that the knee and hip are in the correct positions.

• Putting too much weight on the back leg. It is common to rely too much on the support of the back leg when rolling up. This can lead to reduced engagement in the leg you are standing on and reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. This is especially common when rolling up from the bottom position. To avoid this, keep the front and back legs about half a step apart, and imagine rolling the body up directly towards the ceiling, rather than back onto the back leg. This exercise is designed to test your balance, so don’t worry if you wobble or feel unsteady at first. Try it next to a wall if you feel like you might fall.

Progression Threshold

You should be able to perform 12 repetitions sin total without putting weight on the back leg before progressing.