For now, let’s assume you don’t have an accelerated kyphosis or lots of inflammation in your spine. (If you do, however, follow the protocol we did with the case above.) The goal here is to lie down on the roller, so your butt is positioned on one end of the roller, and your head is resting on the other. If you can’t easily get up and down off the floor, this can get a little tricky. In the worst-case scenario get onto your hands and knees and make sure you position the roller in such a way that, if you were to drop your pelvis toward one end of the roller, you would land on the end of the roller. Once there, make sure you bend your knees and put your feet apart for stability. Your hands will be on the floor next to the roller, and you can lower down onto your elbows as you find a way to place your spine on the roller. If you have strong enough abdominal muscles, you can lower yourself down slowly without making a jarring contact as you lower yourself down. Once there, congratulate yourself.
The next part is simple. Keeping your knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart, put your arms out to the side. Hang out and allow gravity to influence the ligaments in the front of your spine, ultimately reducing your kyphotic curve/hump. While many people will lie on the roller and go back and forth while moving their arms and shoulders around (and that’s okay), I would prefer you to hang out in this static pose for several minutes. Your goal here is not to stretch or massage muscles, but to get those ligaments to open up.
One caveat—if your shoulders are stiff, you can place your arms down to the side of the roller, palms facing the floor. If that is too much stress, cross them on your tummy. Over time, you can try to move them down and out, but honor where you find yourself. If your shoulders are moveable, experiment with putting your shoulders over your head.
How long should you stay here? If you can comfortably stay for two to three minutes, do so. But if it becomes hard or icky, take it in one-minute increments, and slowly progress over the next several weeks. If you feel your neck needs support, place a small pillow under your neck. Over time, as your spine gets straighter, you can lose that pillow prop. With your arms out to the side (either palms up or palms down depending on what feels good), while keeping your knees bent, you should feel stable and like you could even close your eyes for a little catnap, prayer or meditation. (I consider prayer talking to God and meditation listening to God.)
To get off the roller or bolster, it’s just as easy to fall off as it is to sit up. Falling is easy, as there’s not much distance to navigate, and I have never seen anyone get hurt. If popping up from the ground is not part of your regular gig, once you have rolled off the log, you can get onto your hands and knees and crawl to the nearest piece of furniture for an assist. Some people with happy knees and hips can sit back up from the roller, move forward into a squat, and then stand up. If your knees are artificial or you can’t easily bend your ankles or hips, the rolling off and crawling is the way to go. Who cares? Just do it.
For those advanced individuals who can get up and down off the floor quickly and want to get after that excess curve with a little more tenacity, here’s a great next step.