A couple of weeks ago, I found this email in my inbox from a guy by the name of Tim Ferriss. I took a screen shot of the part that caught my eye. It said:
A symptom of
I love the concept of the “problem is not really the problem” i.e. Tight hammies are just a symptom of tight lower legs. I have blogged about this concept before- remember this photo? Look at that blue highlighted fascia line. The hamstrings are very much connected to the lower legs. In a previous blog, it was suggested that we roll our foot on a golf ball for 30 seconds to help the fascia and loosen hamstrings.
Two black rubber balls joined in the middle, looking remarkably like the two tennis balls joined by tape on the left. The RAD roller description said:
- THE EVERYWHERE MASSAGE TOOL: Made for the back, but use it for massage and myofascial release in your hips, on your feet, anywhere!
- DESIGNED IN A CLINIC. MADE FOR THE BODY. Tennis balls and lacrosse balls are made for sports, not your body.
- The RAD Roller is designed to replicate the firm but soft hands of a therapist SMALL AND PORTABLE. Take it with you in your gymbag or suitcase!
- MULTIPLE DENSITIES. Choose what works best for you….SOFT is better for the neck and shoulders. Stiff is great for athletes or the legs and calves.
- TRUSTED BY THERAPISTS AND OLYMPIC ATHLETES. RAD Rollers work for everyone! All bodies need relief; the RAD Roller is one of the most simple and versatile tools on the market.
In the name of Research
I decided that I needed to order one to see if it was really all that. To me, it looked like two lacrosse balls joined in the middle, but maybe there was some magic I was missing. It is $25.00, about 5x more than two lacrosse balls bought separately and taped together. I italicized and bolded the part that raised my eyebrows:
“tennis balls and lacrosse balls are made for sports, not the body.”
Really? I’ve been using and recommending both for years!
RAD is not the only kid on the block, by the way. Here is a screen shot of some competitors, all of which cost less:
Now for the real research
However, I digress.
The important part is how to get tight hamstrings looser by creating more lower leg mobility. I decided to experiment on several clients to see how they liked the loosening of hamstrings via foot and lower leg mobility.
Here is what we did:
3 or 4 Inchworms to establish how tight the hammies felt.
Then we rolled one foot 30x on the RAD roller, and the other on tennis balls in a sock:
Then we did 30x calf raises:
Then we did an achilles/calf stretch 10x each side using that same inchworm position:
And finally a few more inchworms to test out wether the hammies were looser.
The results: mixed!
Almost everyone loved rolling their feet and how much better their feet felt afterwards. About half the time, hamstrings were considerably looser, and the other half didn’t find anything noticeably different. For those that used the tennis balls in a sock compared to the RAD roller complained that the tennis balls wiggled all around in the sock, so I suggested taping the balls as in the photo above before placing in the sock.
No one thought the RAD was considerably better than the tennis balls, including me. Rejoice!
Use tennis balls or lax balls or even golf balls to your heart’s content.
Try this out for your hammies because your feet will love it, and you might fall into the hamstrings love it too category. It’s a great experiment! Let me know how this worked for you in the comments below, which means you need to take 5 minutes out of your day and go try it!