Rock star Sting is so serious about body work that he travels with his own Pilates machines. When he and his band, The Police, spent three days in...
Rock star Sting is so serious about body work that he travels with his own Pilates machines. When he and his band, The Police, spent three days in Seattle last month on their reunion tour, his aides called around town to find a professional to help him through his workout. Martine Dedek, co-owner of Seattle’s Studio Evolve, wound up getting the call and spending parts of three days working with him.
The first session was at a workout room set aside for him at Key Arena, right before the band’s first show in town, and involved Pilates. When Dedek saw him the next day, she asked what kind of work he wanted to do and he said, “Whatever your intuition tells you.”
Her intuition led her to suggest Yamuna Body Rolling, which is a bit like rolfing in its aim of releasing the connective tissue surrounding the muscles and organs to improve movement and circulation. She says Sting talked about the imbalances of his body after decades of playing bass. One shoulder holds the weight of the instrument, while the other droops to allow him to work the strings.
“I thought the intensity of Yamuna Body Rolling would appeal to him,” she says. “And it did. He felt the difference after working one side … and really liked working his shins. He has some Achilles tendonitis from jumping on stage in boots, so releasing his shins and getting more movement in his ankles will help with that.”
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With the procedure, often referred to as YBR, you methodically and gently roll parts of your body over a 9-inch ball, a bit denser than a volleyball. You use tension to work the fascia, the fibrous connective tissue that binds muscles. It is self-massage and can elongate your frame, or at least your posture.
It should be done first with the guidance of someone who understands its principles. Stay away from rolling over ribs or directly on bone. As with any new regimen, you should start easy, see how it feels, get proper instruction and continue only if it seems safe and helpful. I often use a foam roller, which is a hard surface to stretch and massage my back, neck and legs, but Yamuna balls, which come in various densities, allow for a more versatile round of kneading.
Regardless of the method, working the tension you build up during the day benefits not just the body, but the mind as well. It’s one reason that yoga is so popular. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, says body rolling, like rolfing, can be a valuable tool in an exercise regimen and a good counter to heavy exertion.
Some practitioners just tackle tight spots, but often “the spot” is not the source of the problem. The pain may be a result of aggravations elsewhere on the kinetic chain. And forget the old “no pain, no gain” mantra. Body rolling should not hurt. You should do it slowly because the body responds best with slow movement and deep breathing. In fact, you should stop if you feel sharp pain. The trick with body rolling is that you control the intensity.
Essentially, you put the ball where a muscle’s tendon meets bone, then sink your weight onto the ball. The pressure that results activates circulation and, as the theory goes, the tendon becomes more elastic. People with chronic back pain might find value in it because tight hamstrings and hip flexors could be the culprits.
One private session at Studio Evolve lasts about 55 minutes and costs about $60. An introductory package of three private sessions ($138) would be the best way to learn the technique and give your entire body a chance to feel the benefits of the rolling.
On the last day Sting was in Seattle, Dedek gave him some of the Yamuna balls and contacts for YBR instructors along the tour.
Sting left his own gift, a written celebrity thumbs-up: “Extraordinary, revolutionary, revelatory and ultimately freeing. Highly recommend five stars. *****” — Sting.
Richard Seven: 206-464-2241 or firstname.lastname@example.org