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Rolling for Assessment and Treatment of Neuromuscular Control and Coordination

By: Ashley Campbell PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS

The skill of segmental rolling is achieved in the healthy human population by about 4-5 months of age…however most grown adults when asked to roll segmentally are unable to perform this basic task.

Establishing Fundamental Rolling for SMCD

Baby Rolling, showing an example of fundamental rolling

As a foundational movement pattern, the restoration of rolling becomes a crucial step in the process of establishing a treatment plan to correct for stability and/or motor control dysfunctions (SMCD). Those that are certified in the Selective Functional Movement Assessment utilize fundamental rolling as their assessment tool for all SMCD problems, allowing them to initiate exercise progressions at the appropriate developmental level.

When used appropriately, re-establishing proper rolling patterns can be a literal game changer in your patient or client’s progress. This is a core exercise of the most basic form in that we are not trying to build beach body muscles, rather activate and sequence the deep stabilizers of the core including the multifidi and transverse abdominis, two muscles or muscle groups that are extremely challenging to purposefully engage, yet responsible for the basic stability of the core.

Restoring Complete Functional Movement

Once this foundation is established, it is appropriate to progress the individual through developmental positions and varying levels of assistance and/or resistance to challenge them to the point of their ability to complete successful repetitions without compensation. Once that particular challenge becomes easy, the patient should again be progressed, ultimately to full return to the initially dysfunctional (or painful) functional movement pattern and/or sport/activity specific exercises.

In this month’s edition of the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy the topic of using rolling for assessment and treatment of neuromuscular control and coordination of the core and extremities has been revisited and the full text article is here for you.

SFMA Courses for Rolling Assessment

SFMA is a fundamental tool for assessing SMCD and clinicians should be up-to-date on training. NASMI offers Selective Functional Movement Assessment courses to help fulfil CEU hours and expand clinicians knowledge of functional movement. Check out our SFMA course schedule to get started.