Rolling Patterns

I was recently reading the article titled “Rolling Revisited:  Using rolling to assess and treat neuromuscular control and coordination of the core and extremities of athletes” that was written by Barbara Hoogenboom and Michael Voight and was published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy in 2015 and thought I would highlight some of the key take home messages gleaned from the article.

Rolling patterns, used as an assessment and exercise was something that I was not overly familiar with until completing my FMS certification a couple of years ago.  It certainly wasn’t a part of the osteopathy undergraduate or post graduate training program either.  Hence I was very interested in finding out more about how it can be used within a clinical or performance context.  Since then I have started incorporating it more into both my assessments and exercise plans as part of ones movement programs.

Key Messages

  • Rolling abilities and patterns start early on in our development from about the age of 4 – 5 months onwards, when we start to be able to move from prone (stomach) to supine (back) and then later on the back (supine) to stomach (prone).
  • Rolling patterns are often initiated through head, upper or lower extremity and following this the body will follow to realign itself.
  • By 6 – 8 months, infants are able to segmentally roll segments of the body deliberately.
  • Adults will use a variety of rolling strategies, some of which will be efficient and others inefficient.
  • As adults, our need to roll is reduced and often may be limited to simply needing to roll when in bed or lying on the floor.  Therefore rolling may be a good movement to observe because it is not commonly practiced and and compensation can be more easily observed.
  • Rolling should be easily performed equally from left to right side and therefore observation of movement dysfunction can be picked up easily to identify dysfunction in the form of poor coordination, lack of mobility and or stability.
  • Observation focus should be on movement quality over movement quantity.
  • Rolling requires a combination of mobility, stability and motor control.
  • It is important to assess ones mobility to determine if this is affecting ones rolling patterns.
  • Rolling can also be used as a exercise to improve ones motor control.

For those of you who would like to find out more about rolling patterns and how it can be used as an assessment and training drill, check out the following links below:


This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.

Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD and Docklands leading osteopathy clinics.  Find out more or book online at – See more at: