A First-Timer's Guide to Foam Rolling, by Goop's Alignment Specialist
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the roller foam, or more specifically, health- and wellness-minded people’s obsession with the foam roller. Still not ringing a bell? Allow us to introduce you to structural integrative specialist and Goop’s resident alignment guru, Lauren Roxburgh. The woman literally wrote the book on foam rolling. We’ll let the expert take it from here.
Scroll through for Roxburgh’s beginner-friendly guide to foam rolling!
I’m a huge fan of the roller; it’s a life- and body-saver. I became such a fan of the roller because over the last 15 years of working with some of the top celebrities, professional athletes, and orthopedic surgeons on the planet; it has become my secret weapon.
Most people think of the roller as a therapeutic tool to help roll out sore muscles, but it has so many more benefits. These include improving circulation, boosting lymphatic drainage (which helps flush toxins from the body and even reduce cellulite), "lubricating" the joints and connective tissue, reducing inflammation and stress in the body, and increasing flexibility and range of motion. Used correctly, it can also be an incredible tool to help you improve the connection to your intrinsic or core muscles, which we tend to lose connectivity to as we age. As the title of my book says, the result of all of this is that we literally can get Taller, Slimmer, Younger when you learn how to use the roller in all these new ways (check out some videos here).
The program I outline in Taller, Slimmer, Younger is a 21-day total-body transformation, but many people say they start feeling and seeing the benefits within just a few days. They start standing taller and with more confidence and elegance; they starting breathing better; and they look calmer. What’s different about my program is that I use the roller as the basis for a total mind-body workout that draws on many of the different modalities I’ve studied, from yoga to Pilates to the miraculous bodywork structural integration. Why is the mind part of this? Well as I mentioned, the roller can really help your mind to reconnect to the intrinsic or core muscles like the backs of the arms, the inner thighs, the smile of the tush, the middle upper back, and of course the abs we often don’t engage in traditional workouts. We need to engage the mind to engage those muscles if we want to really tone, elongate, and de-stress our bodies.
I find the roller incredible after a long day. It helps me decompress and literally roll away the day. Sure, there are some exercises that can be challenging and get the burn going in the precise places needed. But if rolling really hurts you, you’re doing it wrong. With the right roller and the right technique, rolling should feel really good.
Find a roller that works for you, breathe, and be present in your body. Over the last couple of years since fascia and myofascial release have become such big buzzwords in the wellness and fitness communities, and many people may have seen and possibly tried a foam roller that is kicking around in their gym. But many people end up using a roller that is too hard and get turned off because it can be painful. There are many rollers on the market, but what I recommend for most people is to start out with a medium-density roller that has a little bit of give. For this reason, I designed my own roller that I have found to be the perfect density for the vast majority of people. So step one: Find the right density for you. And step two: Have fun with it. Use the roller as a tool to keep learning about your body, and you’ll really start to reap the rewards.
Obviously when it comes to using the roller, I’m obsessed, so I recommend using it every day. But I’m no slave-driver either. My program requires 10-15 minutes a day for three weeks. After that, I recommend you integrate the roller into your usual workout regime. Use it every day if that feels right, or mix it in with whatever else you love to do. My philosophy is all about finding balance and having fun. So if running is fun for you, do it. Just make sure you mix rolling into your fitness/wellness routine a few times a week.
I also always get asked when is the best time to roll. It’s actually best to do before a workout so you can awaken and prepare your body for movement. It’s also helpful to do at the end of a stressful day or if you’re super sore from a workout.
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Have you ever tried foam rolling? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!