When Harvey Paige gets angry or upset, the US Army veteran tosses a pair of Roll Model® Therapy Balls on the ground and gets to work. After a few minutes of using the balls to release tension in his body—anywhere from his feet to his shoulders—he feels calmer.  Paige, 39, was introduced to the Roll Model® Therapy Balls last year on Project Odyssey, the Wounded Warrior Project’s retreat program for combat veterans. (coming soon… Paige’s inspiring story “How a Warrior Unwinds”). He is one of hundreds of veterans who have discovered the Roll Model® Therapy Balls through the Wounded Warrior Project and who now use them in their daily life.

The collaboration between WWP’s Project Odyssey and Tune Up Fitness’ the Roll Model® Method happened on accident. Greg Hancock, Combat Stress Recovery Specialist (CSRS) and a U.S. Navy veteran, was leading an Odyssey at a Pennsylvania site and came across a self-massage class at the local gym. He decided to bring his group to the class, which featured The Roll Model® Method and Roll Model® Therapy Balls. “I was instantly sold on the balls’ effectiveness,” Hancock says. “I went straight to the club’s gift shop and bought a set of Therapy Balls for everyone on the Odyssey.”

Hancock then enrolled in The Roll Model® Method Training Programs and became a fully certified Roll Model Method® Practitioner, and now includes a session on how to use the balls in every Odyssey he leads. Hancock has introduced the balls to other Odyssey leaders and is working to spread the message of their benefits throughout the Wounded Warrior Project. Already, three WWP regions have incorporated “The Roll Model® – The Science of Rolling” training into their annual regional huddles.

“Using the Tune Up Balls is a win-win situation. There is a mindfulness piece of it, but also we can address physical pain and tension in the body that a lot of veterans have from injury and PTSD,” Hancock says.  Fellow Odyssey leader Brooksi Bottari is also a CSRS and veteran, as well as a licensed mental health therapist and massage therapist. Like Hancock, Bottari immediately took a liking to the Roll Model® Therapy Balls for helping combat veterans. “One of the main tenets of trauma work is mind-body connection. Everyone with post-traumatic stress has bodily symptoms. Some of it is by virtue of being physically injured, but even outside of that, the natural response to trauma is going to be in the body. You can’t separate one from the other,” says Bottari.

The ability to address both the physical and emotional effects of trauma lies equally in the effectiveness of the Roll Model® Therapy Balls and in the competence of practitioners, says The Roll Model® Method founder Jill Miller. “Practitioners trained in The Roll Model® Method are excellent at facilitating a safe space that allows for vets to let down their guard mentally and emotionally and reduce whole-body-bracing—that unconscious tension that keeps us protected,” says Miller. “On a simple level, the first sensation of using the balls is slightly unpleasant, but with the correct application and guidance, stiffness and knots in a participant’s body dissolve. They not only have a renewed sense of freedom in tissues, but often this is coupled by permission to release emotions, as well.”

Among The Roll Model® Method tools is the Coregeous® Ball, an inflatable ball that is used primarily to massage areas of the trunk in conjunction with deep breathing. “By massaging areas that the Vagus nerve innervates, this practice can have a profound effect on improving the body’s relaxation response,” Miller says.  Another important benefit of the balls is the autonomy they provide for veterans, particularly those who are wary of another person putting hands on them. “Some veterans we work with have experienced sexual trauma and have trust issues. What’s so nice with these balls is that you are in control,” Hancock says. Both Hancock and Bottari have been thrilled to offer Warriors a portable, user-friendly tool that allows them to take a safe, immediate, hands-on approach toward addressing restrictions in their minds and bodies. “Roll Model® Therapy Balls respond to your body’s physical and emotional response to trauma,” says Bottari. “If you can have something available to you that offers this, I think there’s a lot of value to that.”

Go here to read how two Project Odyssey Roll Model Role Models, US Army Veteran Harvey Paige and Texas Army National Guard, Omar Marqueses, use this work for down regulation and relief.

15
Leave a Reply

 
15 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
Shawn

I hadn’t thought about how difficult or the reaction that might come from being touched by a professional therapist for someone that has been physically abused. Therapy balls are the next best thing! Thank you and keep ups the great work!

Stephanie

The ways YTU and RMM make their way into different communities is always so inspiring. It is advocates like Greg, that are willing to share their journey with the world and the resources with their community that make this collective such a fulfilling one to be a part of.
There is no doubt about the mind-body connection. It’s a pleasant surprise to see it echoed across the world.

Angela

This is amazing! I love the idea of using YTU Balls for Combat Stress Relief. Another place where people put up walls and block out things that can help.

Pattie

This makes me smile. I am so delighted to see from this blog as well as in the comments that this work has been so powerfully effective, therapeutic, and empowering for so many people from all different walks of life and experience. Thank you to those for sharing and for continuing to share with the people who need healing the most.

Elaine

So often we think about the mind and body as being two separate entities, but this was a wonderful reminder that they are very much one in the same. I loved reading about this, and I’d be curious to see more research done on the relationship between the therapy balls and trauma.

Lorraine

Interesting blog, I had not yet thought of the application of therapy balls for helping with emotions or trauma in the body but it makes so much sense.

Loren Altura

This is fantastic! Vets using the Tune-Up balls to experience relief from fight/flight/freeze and delve into sympathetic nervous system. ??????

Rachelle Hertle

It is incredible to see how active duty and veterans benefit from the work of YTU and Roll Model. I had the privilege of training with Greg and know his heart for bringing healing to those he works with. Teaching students the skills to heal at home is key to changing lives.

Lindsey Rockett

I recently had the pleasure of taking Level 1 YTU training with Greg! It was a gift to learn alongside him 🙂

I’ve often been amazed by the self-healing/regulating agency that a student can gain from using the massage balls. I brought this work to survivors of sex trafficking and I will never forget how positively my girls reacted. They had never, never had anyone do something nice for them and all of a sudden they realized they could be their own caretaker and champion. It was a profound example of empowerment.

Corena Purcell

Trauma release intrigues me. I’m thrilled to learn the use of the Roll Model® Therapy Balls have such benefits!

Adeline

Thank you for this blog. So many times, people disconnect with other distractions and YTU is such a great tool to re-connect and establish safety, trust – on a personal level, and then with others.

Phoebe

This is a very powerful way to release not only the muscles tension but more importantly to release the emotions. Emotions caused so much issue to the body but while they are locked up, even doctors can’t help with it. With the rolling, the emotions can be acknowledged and released. Many cases it can also solve the chronic pain.

Rita Chow

Thank you for writing this beautiful blog post. As practitioners or teachers, we sometimes forget that people might feel unsafe by touch. It is a really good reminder for me and further ensure how the balls would be a good way to start. Thanks again.

Lewis

Hello Nicole.
Thank you for taking the time to write about Harvey Paige and other Wounded Warrior Veterans who are using the Roll Model Method. As a Veteran and fitness professional, I know the connection between the physical and emotional effects of trauma. As time has shown, when we are stressed or angry our bodies tend to tense up. This is proof of the mind body connection. Releasing physical stress creates a space to release mental stress. This model is ideal for many people and especially Veterans.

Betsy

Wow! So cool to hear about this powerful work in action. Last year I volunteered my time to teach a Yoga Tune Up class to Veterans and their families on Veterans day. It was a really beautiful experience. The YTU ball work is so approachable and therapeutic for so many populations for so many reasons!