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Foam Rolling 101 - Everything You Need To Know About Foam Rolling And How To Incorporate It Into Your Routine

  • 4 min read

Why foam roll?

Foam Rolling is my secret weapon to getting a gorgeous, slimmer, more elegant posture and a strong and smoking body.  Most people think of the foam roller as a tool to roll out tight IT bands but used regularly, it can completely transform your body, posture, confidence and even your state of mind.

And the benefits of foam rolling extend way beyond just feeling good; the roller can also help to heal our fascia, which plays an important role in the overall structure of our bones and joints.

The easiest way to explain how foam rolling works is to think about a rolling pin rolling out and smoothing dough. The foam roller works in a similar way in that when you put weight on it, the pressure you feel as you move over the roller is thinning out and healing your body’s tissue, smoothing it out and wringing out toxins and scar tissue that build up in the fascia – the thin layer of connective tissue that lies under the skin and wraps around every muscle and organ in the body.

What are the benefits of rolling?

One of the key benefits of the roller is that it helps smooth out and hydrate the fascia. The foam roller acts as a tool for myofascial release. The roller gets into the fascia in much the same way that a deep-tissue massage does. This improves circulation throughout your entire body which helps to oxygenate the blood, boost lymphatic drainage and flush toxins from the body. The roller also helps to “lubricate” the joints and reduce inflammation in the body while increasing flexibility and range of motion. It can also improve the connection to the intrinsic or core muscles; we tend to lose this connectivity as we age. So bottom line, the roller is an incredible tool for overall fitness and health.

The roller can also boost circulation and lubrication to tissues and organs, which makes the skin and muscle look and feel more supple and youthful.  Rolling also stimulates the lymphatic system to help flush toxins, get rid of bloating, and even reduce cellulite. The result of this is that a regular rolling routine reboots your entire system and help you lose inches, shrink your waistline, gain height, and even feel calmer.

Why should you take care of your fascia?

The role fascia actually plays in the body is really only now being fully recognized. Fascia helps connect the muscles to the bones and joints and plays a key role in our structural integrity—so in a way it is like the scaffolding of the body. The best way to imagine fascia is to think of a thin Saran wrap-like layer that lies between the skin and the muscles like a web. If you’ve ever seen the white stringy layer when you cut into an uncooked chicken, that is fascia. Fascia is also where the nerves and the lymph nodes sit––so it is now being called a sensory organ because this is where pain originates and is communicated to the brain.

How to incorporate foam rolling into your routine

The foam roller is such a versatile tool because it can be used in so many ways. I love to start the day on the roller since rolling first thing in the morning is a great way to wake up the body, roll away the kinks, and get centered for the day. I also recommend using the roller before workouts (even though many people think you should only use it after or when you’re sore) but rolling out your muscles before you do a workout is a great way to prep your body for movement.

Rolling at the end of the day is also a great way to relax, unwind, and release tension. So many of us spend our days hunched over computer screens or cell phones, so even just taking 5 minutes on the roller at the end of the day to open up the body and roll out the kinks can make a huge difference.

(Have 5 minutes? Try this free foam roller workout to wake up the body.)

Using the roller as a workout tool

The roller can also be used as the basis for a total body workout that is the perfect complement to whatever other exercise you like to do, or can be a workout in its own right. I’ve spent years developing a series of moves on the roller that basically mimic Pilates exercises, but without the need for expensive or bulky equipment such as the Cadillac or the Reformer.

Used correctly the roller can also help improve the connection to your intrinsic or core muscles, which we tend to lose connectivity to as we age. When incorporated with Pilates-inspired movements, the foam roller essentially destabilizes us. In order to balance, we have to “turn on” those core and intrinsic muscles that can be difficult to activate in most gym exercises or cardio workouts. These are all benefits that exercises like running, yoga, weights, spinning, or any number of other routines don’t necessarily offer, and this makes the roller the perfect complement to whatever other workouts you might be doing. The great thing about rolling is that it can be an add-on to other workouts you love. You can take it on the road or do it at night before bed. It takes just a few minutes, allowing you to work smarter and not necessarily harder.

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