When first introduced to therapy balls and myofascial self-release, the question is often asked, “When should I roll? Before or after exercise?” The truth is that your self-care routine can (and should) happen both before and after you workout.

mobility before and after workoutBefore a workout, self-massage helps to lessen the tension that is contributing to your poor posture. Take the front of the shoulders, for example. Because we spend so much time on devices and doing things in front of us, the pectoralis minor, a muscle that runs from ribs 3-5 to the corocoid process (a pointy bony prominence that pokes forward from your shoulder blade to the front of your body), is locked short. When your shoulders and arms spend a considerable amount of time in the same position, the tissues adapt to that shape. It requires energy for your body to maintain a range of motion or movement that you never do, so it just forgets it was ever an option.

My go-to ball stop before rolling targets both the pec minor and all of the anterior chest gunk. I typically use an ALPHA ball or a Therapy Ball PLUS at the wall, which allows me to better control how much pressure I can create. This helps to ease the tension on the front of the shoulders and chest that would otherwise keep my shoulders in their rounded forward position. When I do my workout, my shoulders are now in a better position and I can train in the window of postural opportunity I created. See how to do it in this video.

So yes, you should roll before workout to improve your posture and continue to train in a better position. Gradually, the better position that was previously only achieved through self-massage will become the new normal.

What about after workout? You should roll then too! A study at McMaster University in 2012 found that deep tissue massage for 10 minutes following exercise decreased inflammation and increased the number of mitochondria in the muscle cells. If you remember back in high school biology, mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, so the massage helped to not only decrease soreness and speed recovery, but also set the myofascias up to be MORE ready for the next round of exercise IN JUST 10 MINUTES.

Target the areas you worked the hardest in your workout or roll on the spots you know will be trouble – as long as you are getting a grippy, pliable YTU Therapy Ball onto your body, you will still reap the benefits of stress relief and global relaxation, no matter where you roll.

Since therapy balls are micro stretchers, you should limit the amount of time you spend on any given spot before your workout to 90 – 120 seconds. 90 seconds is about the amount of time it takes for the myofascias to actually respond to the mechanical stress and anything more than 2 minutes decreases the reactivity of the muscle (think overstretched Gumby).

After your workout – go to town! Pay close attention to how you feel after you self-care practice, as extra soreness following therapy ball rolling can be an indication that you overdid it. I usually spend about 5 minutes per side on whatever I am rolling. I have found it super helpful to set a timer, which allows me to blissfully roll without having to check my watch. Your self-care practice should leaving you feeling better than you did before, not more sore.

So, now you know – rolling both before and after your workout is key.

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