In my previous articles this week, I discussed how the fascial connections of the layers of the body help to make connections, but may also be attributing to pain, and not in the spot where you think. The lower back is a crossroads for the fascial system and shares direct and indirect connections to every myofascia above and below.  Here are my favorite ways to warm up and prepare the entire body for movement, and how to unravel tension in the lower back – which can be a catalyst for relieving tension throughout the entire body.

Dynamic warmups are a simple way to activate entire myofascial chains, wake up tissues and provide tension reduction.  This type of activity can be used on its own for a stress reduction break or is now commonly used as a replacement for old style pre-exercise static stretching.  Static stretching on cold muscles used to be a common “warm up” practice but risks muscle strain injury.  Instead, dynamic stretching boosts circulation to the area and excites neuro-receptors with gentle multi-joint motions that rhythmically contract and release myofascial chains, preparing for more vigorous movement and decreasing risk of injury.   To warm up low back, gentle warm ups can include:  hula hip circles and simple pelvic tilts lying on your back or standing or try Yoga Tune Up® Sidewinder

Self-massage is my favorite way to drop tension quickly and bring relief to any area.  Massage on and around the thoracolumbar fascia (situated in the lower back) can also impact more distant segments thanks to its numerous attachments.  TLF is one of our largest and most important sheets of fascia (or aponeuroses) because it is situated at an intersection of activity between muscles and bones of:  hips, pelvis, and spine including 2 of 4 abdominal muscles.  Even shoulders and breath are impacted thanks to attachments of the latissimus dorsi to TLF and a connection to the respiratory diaphragm via the internal obliques.

We know for sure is that the neuro-receptors (specialized nerve endings) respond to appropriate myofascial massage by calming the nervous system.  So, if massaging this area brings a lot of “bang for the buck,” unraveling tension in the many myofascial attachments AND you positively enhance your overall well-being; what are you waiting for?  Here is my favorite quick way to let go of stress and be a Roll Model, anytime, anywhere.  Watch below!


Enjoyed this article? Read “Where you think it is, it ain’t”

Learn more about lower back pain relief with the Quickfix Online videos. 

Diane Marra

Diane Marra is an Exercise Physiologist and Biomechanics specialist with more than 20 years’ experience teaching in universities, hospitals, corporate and community settings. Diane holds a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from California State University and numerous fitness certifications. Her scientific research, conducted for the US Army Medical Department and California State University, has been presented at international conferences and published in clinical journals. Today, Diane is creating new programs as the corporate Wellness Manager for a global manufacturing company and still teaches part-time for SUNY Buffalo State College. Since personally overcoming multiple injuries and chronic pain, Diane has a passion for helping ‘regular folks’ who sit too much, manage pain conditions, seek post-injury recovery, and/or simply want to be stronger. Current credentials include: National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA™-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine/ ExeRxcise is Medicine® ​Level 1, Yoga Tune Up® and TRX™ Diane is currently developing a new course for her SUNY Graduate students about Workplace Ergonomics and Selfcare, offers private training sessions and occasional workshops in the Buffalo-Niagara area while continuing to do free-lance research/ writing for Medical and Fitness publications.

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The way you described the low back as a “crossroads for the fascial system” is brilliant. I never thought about it that way until now. And targeting low back tension to influence relief in overall body tension is genius. Very informative read in a voice that I feel most people could understand. I especially enjoyed the explanation of why we want to do dynamic warm ups.

Diane Marra

Hi Justine, Definitely! Detailed, step-by-step exercises are available in Jill Miller’s book, “The Roll Model” (see Amazon or the “shop” tab on this very website). Also on this website’s Shop section are DVDs if you prefer that sort of tutorial. Jill also offers many free videos on her YouTube page (Tune Up Fitness), which include many Therapy Ball instructions. Keep it up! Our cells, tissues and joints need movement- even if it is modified and gentler, due to injury or other issues. Also, look up Katy Bowman’s (funny + scientific) books to arm yourself with SelfCare information arsenal! Cheers!


Hi Diane,
Can you recommend a book or do you have something on line that has a series of your ball exercises that I can find?
I do stretching and use a softer roller for hip exercises, but wake up very stiff and sore from herniated discs and sciatica with osteoporosis. I am in pretty good shape weight is 134lbs and 5 ft 4 inches.
Thank you!

Lindsey Rockett

As a big fan of down-regulating (huge fan over here!), I am finally opening to the benefits of dynamic movement for stress relief. While I’ve always been a gym goer, I balked at the idea of adding dynamism into my yoga practice…something I viewed as a haven. Needless to say, that was short-sighted and rooted in unhelpful habits.

Now, I can’t believe how my body and mind is responding to dynamic movement as a part of what used to be an entirely restorative routine. Thank you for helping to shift my perspective!

Peter Southall

Thank you for the simple suggestions.

Amber Green

As a retired figure skater changing paths towards becoming a professional dancer Yoga Tune Up Balls and self-massage opened up new ways of moving for me. Figure skating involves movement that is dynamic and requires a lot of strength no matter what “trick” you are executing. When I switched movement types, I felt trapped in my body, dance required a more subtle, softer style of moving in order to compliment the dynamic movement habits I already possessed. I have now started talking to the figure skaters I teach about Yoga Tune Up and the benefits of the Therapy Balls in… Read more »


Thank you! I hadn’t spent much time on my lower back with the balls because I was much more focused on other areas – my pain tends to be in my neck and radiating down the legs because of SI Instability. After reading this, I spent several minutes on the TLF and was surprised by how many stuck spots I found, especially around the lat attachments on either side. When I finished, I couldn’t believe how good my NECK felt! I tell people every day that “it’s all connected” but the connections never cease to surprise me when I find… Read more »

Sophie Desmarais

Thank you for sharing. You’ve sparked my curiosity on the implications of tightness in the TLF.

aniela eva

I liked the connection that simplifies overwhelming pain to simple dynamic stretches and roll outs. Bang for your buck!


Thanks, Diane,
Good tips. I like to do it next to the wall to regulate the pressure. And I really like to use alfa ball for it, that’s cover more space

Donna Burch

Thank you miss Diane!!!
I am loving removing cobwebs from my brain and immersing myself in this wonderful
YTU training. I am so appreciating learning again, the anatomy, the language. Mahalo!


I found this article just when I needed it. Doing all my YTU Level 1 Homework and my lower back was aching and I found I was flexing forward unintentionally and obstructing my breath. Massage my thoracolumbar fascia and feel much more relaxed and comfortable.

Eva Jedlovsky

Thank you for the tips how to self massage. I had the pleasure of doing sidewinder yesterday during my training and it definitely gets the body warm. Will definitely try the ball against the wall.

Juliana A.

Hi Diane! I love your description of Dynamic Stretching: “boosts circulation to the area and excites neuro-receptors with gentle multi-joint motions that rhythmically contract and release myofascial chains, preparing for more vigorous movement and decreasing risk of injury.” It’s a mouthful, but couldn’t have said it better and says it all! I’m a big fan of dynamic stretching when warming myself and other athletes. Thanks for your post!


Thank you, Diane, for sharing this dynamic warmup by rolling the YTU alpha ball all over the thoraco-lumbar fascia.

Georgia Lowe

Bingo! I think thoracolumbar fascia tension might be a key culprit in a lot of tightness and back pain one of my private clients suffers from. Can’t wait to try this with him. Thank you for bringing my attention to the importance of this fascia crossroads and for the quick fix video!

Liz Tyburczy

Love quick fixes for me and my students. All I hear Is we don’t have time. Many people have some type of lower back discomfort. Our lifestyles just make it happen. Your blog is just proof positive of how everything inside us is connected. Where the pain is doesn’t have to be the cause of it. So I am going to take my balls to the wall and do a little exploration.

Mindy Micheli

Thank you, Diane, for sharing this incredible post. You remind me that all I need is ” a ball, a wall and a moment” to make am impact for more well-being and peace of mind/body. I loved the video, great information that can be so readily used. I think that I will get my Alpha ball out right now!

Christina Summerville

Thank you Diane for sharing this. I just tried rolling out my TLF against the wall, it felt sensitive to pressure, but fantastic at the same time! I will have to add this to one of my regular routines, I appreciate that this area is at an intersection of fascia and will give me more bang for my buck!


Diane, love the article, and it’s SO helpful to see you on video demo’ing the work. Way to be a Roll Model sistah!


“A wall, a ball and a moment” it is that simple. Thanks – I’m on it.


Thank you. I keep finding more great tips and new ideas of how to help support existing clients in a more whole body approach. This is perfect for me “tight guys” with low back issues along with some focused abdominal strengthening.


Love this quick fix! Thank you

Meredith Hutter Chamorro

I’m impressed by how much I can learn in such a short post. Knowing how the fasciae in the lower back impacts the fasciae above and below is so helpful. I love getting more bang for my buck! I carry a lot of tension in my upper body, so I sometimes give less attention to anything below my chest. No longer! Learning more about the TFL is so helpful. Another important piece of understanding I got from reading this post is the importance of dynamic warm-ups. I tend to do more static poses when I teach yoga, but I plan… Read more »


Great video Diane ! Using the balls on the wall felt great, rolling on the wall some days it the perfect amount of pressure without aggravating already unhappy muscles. The Quandratus lamboium was so happy when the balls simply glided across them.

Angi bloom

Thanks for sharing some simple tips that we can use during mini breaks at the office. I find that so much tension can be relieved in just minutes and that rolling regularly helps reduce pain dramatically. It is also really calming for the nervous system and helps many people sleep better. I look forward to learning more.

Manju Goradia

Thank you, Diane, for sharing this dynamic warmup by rolling the YTU alpha ball all over the thoraco-lumbar fascia.


Thanks Diane. Looks yummy – can’t wait! Especially like how it rolls through so many muscles – the glute fibers, QL, Lats and obliques. Learned the sidewinder in training this week and love it! What a great dynamic warmup.

Alison Pignolet

Thanks for the video, Diane! My corporate students will love the quick minute on the wall. I really like your simple explanation of how the TLF can impact so much of the sense of well being in the area.


Thank you Diane feeling stiff from Hotel bed going to use this routine right now fro my aching low back .


After covering both dynamic stretching and Sidewinder in YTU Level 1 Training today, it’s nice to see them put to practical use together in the form of a warmup. I have a lot of Pilates clients who feel the common total body tension, and I love the idea of beginning a session with a dynamic warmup and therapy ball exercises.


Thanks for this quick tip, Diane. I like the use of the wall for rolling for two reasons. it allows me to do it a little more discreetly than lying down (should I be at an airport or at work!) and due to some injuries, the wall makes it less intense and more safe for my personal situation.