First up let’s talk about Yoga Wheels. These look like a fun prop to add to your home stretching routine.
The 12-inch wide wheel is hollow and is designed to massage the spine.
The idea is to start in a seated position with two feet flat on the floor. Put the wheel behind you and lean into it and roll your back over the yoga ball for a few minutes.
The Yoga Wheel does give the shoulder blades a pleasant stretch but is not recommended for the lower back as it can jam the vertebrae together. Yoga wheels can be unstable on carpet.
A similar product is the Chirp Wheel. This is promoted to improve posture and flexibility.
For your comfort the Chirp Wheel has a channel for your spine. It’s used in the same way as the Yoga Wheel.
A third and preferred option is the Fit Ball. These come in a few sizes. When you sit on the right size ball, your thighs will be straight just as in a dining chair. Fit balls are soft and pliable compared to the other options here.
With a Fit Ball, you can massage all of your back. Sit on the floor, lean against the ball and roll it under your back from the top to the bottom. This can reverse the chest constriction that comes from sitting around.
You can use the Fit Ball on carpet or any other stable surface, including grass.
For an upper back stretch, lean back over the ball and hold that position for around 30 seconds. If it’s comfortable, you can drop your arms behind you. As you work to stay stable on the ball, you will activate a range of muscles, in particular around your core.
The Fit Ball can also be used to loosen up the lower back. Sit on the ball and move your hips in small circles for a minute. Swap directions and repeat.
This exercise activates the small muscles around your hips. Core muscles benefit too.
While all of these wheels and balls can help massage areas of your back you can’t reach, in my opinion the Fit Ball is the safest option. It has a range of uses for your home exercise routine which I will go into next month.
Tristan Hall is an exercise physiologist with Full Circle Wellness. Call 0431 192 284 or visit fullcirclewellness.com.au