In this week’s video tutorial, we’re focusing on the Flexed Roll, which is a great starting point for developing a solid roll. It also happens to be a great abdominal exercise since you have to stay in such a tight tucked position.
Variations Between Disciplines
In all of these disciplines, you’ll have some sort of “rolling” movement. Whether it be a summer sault in gymnastics, a dive roll in Parkour or an Akido roll in martial arts (which I admittedly do not have much experience with), the goal is pretty universal: Minimize your ground impact and disperse it by rolling through.
Not all rolls are created equal. In a summer sault, the roll is more of a sagittal movement where you’re rolling completely down the center of the spine. In martial arts or Parkour, the roll may have more of a rotary component, where the ground contact starts with one shoulder and moves across the back into the opposite hip.
Mechanics of a Flexed RollHowever, no matter which type of roll you are using, the goal is still to stay as “flexed” as possible, allowing the body to travel across the floor like a well balanced wheel.
If at any point the spine begins to flatten out or extend, the roll will be interrupted and the force of the body will be localized at that particular area. We call it a “flat tire” and I can tell you from experience, it’s not a good time. So in the Flexed Roll, our focus is on transferring your contact up and down the spine while imagining yourself rolling from one vertebra to the next, allowing for a smooth transition.
Progressing the Flexed Roll
In the video we also cover another progression which is a Flexed Roll with a Leg Swing, as well as an intro using this as a transition movement:
The leg swing ends in a position where you’re balancing on just one of your gluteal muscles. This shifts your center of gravity, which creates more of an oblique challenge. Not only does this add more complexity and coordination but it’s a perfect set up for transitioning out of the Flexed Roll (which we’ll cover in a future video).
These movements can be used by themselves as a challenging core exercise or as a transfer from one movement to the next. So whether you’re using the Flexed roll as an abdominal exercise or as a skill practice for more complex moves, give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed!