Rolling Patterns

Researchers documenting the movement patterns of babies have gifted us sequencing insight into motor development.  Thought to be the purest form of human movement, developmental kinesiology can be used as a neurological reset.  We can remind the brain of our original wiring to help override the poor patterning our modern lifestyle has made us accustom to.

The first whole body movement a baby seeks to achieve is rolling over.  This is a global rotational pattern, initiated by the trunk.  Rolling from the back to the stomach is a flexion pattern.  Rolling from the stomach to the back is an extension pattern.  Our core musculature is the unifying force driving these patterns.

The first step to reawaken this pattern is to link the legs and arms to the trunk through long rolls.

1.  Long rolls, feet initiated – Upper Body stays “Dead”

Since people tend to have tight hip flexors, the leg driven pattern of supine (back) to prone (stomach) is usually the easiest.

The roll from stomach to back is typically harder because it relies on the often underutilized posterior chain.  Curl hamstring, drive through heel, and use butt to propel the reverse roll.

2.  Long rolls, arm initiated – Lower Body stays “Dead”

The difficulty in this pattern is resisting the urge to ‘crunch’.  Use the top of the head to lengthen the upper body, and flex and rotate the neck into the desired diagonal.  Reach up and over with the arm/ shoulder, and tense the abs and obliques to follow.  Do your best to not cheat with your feet.  You’ll really, really want to.

The reverse stomach to back is likened to a backstroke.  Pick up the head and rotate it in the direction of the roll.  “Swim” open.  If your back is stronger than your chest/shoulders, the reverse roll will be easier here.

3.  Squished Rolls w/ Filler, Opposite Elbow to Knee

Cross-patterning.  The paper towels are squished between the opposite elbow and knee, aiding in any shoulder, hip, or thoracic issues that prevent full elbow to knee touch.  This modified version also helps build the core coordination and endurance required for consistent contraction.

Continue to use the head and neck to drive torso.  Think about lengthening the long side and rotating around it.

4.  Squished Rolls w/ Filler, Same Elbow to Knee

Harder to do than the opposite knee to elbow because you don’t have natural crossed facial lines to assist you.  Same side holds target the obliques, as both long side rotators and short side contractors.

5.  Full Tuck Rolls, Opposite Elbow to Knee
Exaggerated version of the squished rolls.  Knee should stay pinned to elbow throughout entire movement.

6.  Full Tuck Rolls, Same Elbow to Knee
Hardest progression.  Again, reach extended heel and hand long, rotating short side around that axis.


  • Rolling patterns mimic baby rolls
  • Long rolls connect top limbs to bottom limbs through the trunk
  • Squished rolls have a moderately short and long side
  • Tucked rolls have a fully shortened side and a long side
  • Elongate the long side and rotate short side around it
  • Do not “cheat” by driving off the ground with the short side
  • Do not “cheat” with the long side by initiating rolls with the knees or feet
  • Lift, turn the neck, and ‘look into’ rolls
  • Rolls help neurological software reboot inside-out (core to limbs) programming
Super-Perfectionist’s Tip:
Look hard with the eyes and push the tongue into the cheek in the direction you want to roll.  These oral-facial drivers may look weird, but they work, making movement easier.  Watch an infant too young to move.  The eyes and tongue are all they have, and these sensory inputs initiate the exploring process.   


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