Rolling on Balls and Posing as Warriors

by Paul Thompson and Shamala Kandiah Thompson

Sham and Ball Rolling

Recently we’ve been preoccupied by balls. Big and little ones. We have silver balls, black balls and blue balls. We’ve been sitting on them, rolling on them and lying on them. And how you may ask is this connected to running? Or living in Boulder? Ball rolling just might be the key to injury free running while living in Boulder at some point in our lives!

Working out kinks in my back with one of the bigger balls

My sister, Annabel, introduced us to Yamuna Body Rolling last year. It is a progressive routine that uses dense plastic balls and the body’s own weight to provide a self-massage.  The aim is to release and elongate tight muscles, tendons and ligaments helping to avoid, or alleviate injuries. Although I didn’t look very elegant as I wobbled along the ball, I found that my muscles did feel good after a session.

So early this year when I saw that Peekskill’s Parks and Recreation Department had weekly classes I decided it was time to learn to do this properly. In the past I’ve been a regular at yoga classes and done a bit of pilates but in recent years I’ve largely been running with minimal weight training. I used to pride myself on my flexibility but I now know what a tight IT band feels like. Might be payback for all the times I laughed when Paul tried to touch his toes and barely got past his knees.

A few weeks ago thinking it might help Paul’s sciatica/piriformis syndrome I got some Yamuna balls for home use. The ones that I thought might help Paul the most were two little black balls which the creator of the Yamuna workout developed for runners, cyclists, dancers, and climbers. Using the accompanying video Paul and I spent a lot of time on the black balls one weekend. Perhaps too much time. We both had strained muscles by Monday morning! But if used correctly these balls can help ease the tightness in muscles that lead to  injuries.


Paul and Yoga

I have been seeing physiotherapist Daniel Rofe for over about a month now. From the outset Daniel has been harping on about my doing yoga to boost flexibility, especially in the hip and butt region. Like many ‘old school’ runners I was slightly skeptical. But Daniel did not give up and I finally I relented.

I attended my first ever public workout at Yoga Shivaya in Tarrytown. I did All Levels Vinyasa Yoga with Juliana Santos-Kraus. It was a pleasant surprise. I was so inflexible Juliana actually sat on me during the session at one point. It helped that everyone had their eyes closed. After the session she expressed mild admiration that I could do the session despite “needing a lot of work”. I caught a glint of a concerned expression.


Since then I’ve downloaded some free yoga apps onto my iPhone (to go with my Endomondo) and been doing some DIY workouts. Several child, warrior, pigeon, sun salutation and other poses later I am significantly more flexible and the sciatica is 50% better. It looks like yoga is here to stay.


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