Men Over 40 Can Use Rolling Patterns to Warm Up Core Functions

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Milo Bryant is a performance coach as well as an experienced journalist. He’s also in his 50s—and his book Unstoppable After 40 gives you the roadmap to do more than merely remain active as you “mature.” Milo trains hard and recovers even better so he can do what he wants, when he wants. Get ready to use his methods to become unstoppable. This isn’t your dad’s middle age.

If you know what you’re doing, rolling around on the ground can be an effective way to get moving and gauge your core’s stability.

Quick story: Before playing basketball one night at 24-Hour Fitness, I had six late teen, early 20-something athletes on the basketball court doing rolling patterns. They found out I was a trainer, so they were willing to give the practice a try—even though they might look silly to someone who just happened to walk into the gym.

Their struggling attempts at segmentally rolling from their backs to their stomachs and vice versa had them trash talking each other and laughing at their collective futility. After a few cues and more attempts (some successful), we sat and had a conversation about core functioning and its effect on the extremities.

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Rolling patterns are all about the spine being mobile where it needs to be, and stable where it needs to be. Being able to segmentally rotate from the cervical spine down through the lumbar spine and back up is important in every rotary sport we do—and also for a lot of the mundane movements we make on a daily basis.

The rolling patterns are both assessment tools as well as warmup exercises. As an assessment tool, they can expose inefficiencies in sequencing which can affect gross movement patterns. As a warmup exercise, they get the body moving more efficiently, which helps more intense forms of full-body rotary movement, such swinging a club or bat, throwing a ball or whipping that perfect bounce pass by three defenders.

The 4 Rolling Patterns

  • Upper Body Supine-to-Prone

    Tests the core’s ability to be simultaneously dynamic and stable while you rotate your body from back to stomach, moving from your outstretched hands down to your feet.

    Lie on your back with your arms overhead and feet hip-width apart. Don’t move your lower body. Raise your head and rotate it to the left as if you’re smelling your left armpit. Starting with your right arm, reach to the left, followed by your head, then your neck, then your right shoulder, then your chest, until you’re on your stomach. Return to the starting position and perform the rolling pattern to the right.

    • Upper Body Prone-to-Supine

      Tests the core’s ability to be simultaneously dynamic and stable while you rotate your body from stomach to back, moving from your outstretched hands down to your feet.

      Lie on your stomach with your left arm overhead and your right arm out to the side. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Don’t move your lower body. In rolling to the left, turn your head to your right, looking at your right hand. Then raise your right hand and arm so that they extend up and over your back toward your left side. Keep your eyes on your right hand and follow it with your head as it continues to the ground. Your lower body should stay relaxed until the rotation of your upper body begins pulling your lower over as well. Return to the starting position and perform the rolling pattern to the right.

      • Lower Body Supine-to-Prone

        Tests the core’s ability to be simultaneously dynamic and stable while you rotate your body from your back to your stomach, moving from the bottoms of your heels up to the tips of your outstretched hands.

        Lie on your back with your arms overhead and feet hip-width apart. Don’t move your upper body. Raise your right leg vertically and, keeping your left leg stationary, rotate it so your toes point left. Reach the right leg to the left until your hips begin rotating. As your hips rotate, your upper body will follow suit until your whole body is in a supine position. Repeat this while rolling to the right.

        • Lower Body Prone-to-Supine

          Tests the core’s ability to be simultaneously dynamic and stable while you rotate your body from your stomach to your back, moving from the bottoms of your heels up to the tips of your outstretched hands.

          Lie on your stomach with your arms overhead and feet hip-width apart. Don’t move your upper body. In rolling to the left, raise your right leg in a diagonal over your left leg while keeping the left leg stationary. As your right leg reaches across your body, your hips should begin rotating. As your hips rotate, your upper body will follow suit until your whole body is in a supine position. Repeat this while rolling to the right.

          Best Coaching Cue for Rolling Patterns

          Though the arm reaches out first, this is a head- and neck-driven movement. So use them. Turn your head toward the hand that reaches. Keep reaching with that hand. Keep your eyes on the hand as it “guides you” to finish the pattern.

          Helpful Tips for Your Rolling Pattern Practice

          ●If the pattern is difficult to do from a flat supine position (lying face-up on your back), to roll from right to left, put a rolled-up exercise mat below the right side of your torso, akin to giving the body a “head start.” Do the same if you need to roll the other way.

          ●Have a partner tap the heel of the “long leg,” the leg lying in the direction of the roll. The tapping helps engage the core.

          ● Have a partner hold one end of a band while your “reaching” hand holds the other end. The partner should lightly pull on the band to help you get past “stuck” points and complete the pattern.

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