Spinal rolling is important in self-treatment. It breaks up the superficial brittleness of the column and is the simplest form of spinal mobilization. Each vertebra has its turn in gliding past its neighbours as your body weight rolls over it.
Again using the analogy of the keyboard; rolling along the spine is like rolling your forearm and wrist down over an expanse of piano keys as they depress one after the other. Instead of sounding a different musical note, each vertebra has its own note of stiffness, although the jammed done is especially shrill as your body weight passes over it.In this regard, rolling along the spine is a primitive diagnostic tool. By rolling over the segments you can isolate your problem level.
You can examine the L4-L5 and the lumbosacral interspaces by clasping your hands behind your knees and nearly straightening your legs with toes high in the air.
The weight of the legs and the long leverage make it easy for you to tip back and forth over the lower end of the spine to see whether you elicit pain. To isolate the mid-lumbar level, hug your knees a little closer to the chest so that they make a shorter lever. Depending on the bulk of the upper chest, the angle at the knees will be closer to a right angle. To isolate the thoracolumbar level, you have to shorten the lever even more by having your legs pointing almost straight up to the ceiling.
To tip your weight towards the higher end of the lumbar spine, you simply bend and straighten your knees in the air, which rocks the body back and forth.All these movements require a fair degree of control and will not be possible in phases of acute pain. Simple as they sound, it is often too painful to get your spine rounded sufficiently and you struggle about stranded, like a beetle on its back.
Or it may not be painful at all, simply stiff. The patch of immobility may be loathed to press out the other way because the vertebrae cannot slide backwards (I can see this as a small hollow scoop in the low back when you bend forward from the standing position). It makes rolling along the spine like bumping over a square wheel, with a clonk as the flat patch hits the floor.
It requires extra pulling in below the belly button to shrink in the lower abdomen, to force the stiff patch out the other way. As a therapeutic exercise, spinal rolling is the all-around panacea. It is an effective first thing in the day if there is early morning stiffness.
It also breaks the spine free of guarding muscles spasm which can hold it as rigid as a plank of wood. It is also useful if the spine has just been jarred; in this case, the rolling should be as relaxing as possible, along with the whole length of your spine.
As everything loosens up, your legs tip right back over your back over your head and as spine softens it is easier to isolate the problem level. Loosening the specific vertebrae requires small range pivoting back and forth with small amplitude excursions right on the painful spot. You have to grab your knees and steer yourself back and forth with precision.
Working the vertebrae free is like pressing out the stiffness, pivoting back and forth on the carpet. You can also pause in mid-flight, staying motionless on the spot to allow the spine time to sink down and relax around it.