Foam Rolling 101 With Lauren Roxburgh

All my life I've been an athlete. But through modeling, I was introduced to an entire new world of fitness and wellness. It wasn't all about cardio and the standard weight training anymore. I tend to bulk up pretty quickly so I needed to build leaner muscles for my shoots. That's when I was first introduced to foam rolling. I became obsessed!

Not only did I love the way it made me look (like a lean, mean, fightin' machine!) but it made me feel better, too. Now that I'm in full #BikiniAfterBaby mode, I decided to start taking advantage of foam rolling again. Weight loss begins with taking care of yourself from the inside out. Along with Kelly's Be Well nutrition plan, I've been working with THE go-to trainer and alignment guru, Lauren Roxburgh. She's fantastic!

If you don't know what foam rolling is, Lauren is on the blog today sharing all the details and how it can benefit you, too! 

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1. What Is Foam Rolling?

Foam Rolling is my secret weapon to getting a gorgeous, slimmer, more elegant posture 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.

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 bodies tissue, smoothing it out and wringing out toxins and scar tissue that build up in the fascia.   Fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue that lies under the skin and wraps around the every muscle and organ in the body.

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 – 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.

The problem is fascia can store toxins and can thicken and harden when it is not exercised correctly, so when you have a stiff shoulder, for example, often it is not the damage to the muscle that it causing it but a hardening or thickening of the fascia around the shoulder muscles and joint.  Poor posture, poor flexibility, and repetitive movements can also pull the fascia into ingrained patterns.  Adhesions form within the stuck and blocked fascial tissue like snags in a sweater, and make our bodies feel heavy, wider, compressed and run down.

But the good news is your fascia is incredibly malleable has almost ridiculous self-healing abilities.  And that is where the roller comes in!  I have used the roller for over 15 years in my work with clients and during that time I have realized it was capable of much more than just being a tool to massage sore muscles and can be one of the most useful things for a busy and active mama to have in their arsenal.

 2. How did you get interested in foam rolling? 

I first discovered the roller about 15 years ago when I was becoming certified as a personal trainer.  I really just started experimenting and soon realized the roller was capable of so much more.  Over the years I’ve developed a series of moves that utilize the foam roller as the basis of a total-body workout and actually mimic many of the moves you do on the Pilates reformer(think long and lean dancer bodies).  And the best part of it is you can do it in your own home or even in the office or a hotel room without the expense and the space required for an expensive equipment.

3. What are the benefits? 

One of the key benefits of the roller is that it helps smooth out and hydrate the fascia.  This oxygenates the blood and improves circulation throughout your entire body, boosting lymphatic drainage and flushing toxins from the body.  The roller also helps to ‘lubricate’ the joints, and reduces inflammation in the body while increasing flexibility and range of motion.  It also improves the connection to the intrinsic or core muscles which we tend to lose connectivity to as we age.  So bottom line, the roller is an incredible tool for overall fitness, wellness and vitality.

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 reboot your entire system and help you lose inches, shrink your waistline, gain height, and even feel calmer.

Used correctly, the roller 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.  In fact I’m so convinced of the benefits that I wrote a book about the roller and the title says it all Taller, Slimmer Younger (here is a link to my book + roller combo! )

The foam roller program I outline in my book ‘Taller, Slimmer, Younger – 21 Days to a Foam Roller Physique’ 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, glowing from the inside out 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 practice called Structural Integration.  Why is the mind part of this?  Well as I mentioned, the roller can really help your mind to reconnect with your body, especially the intrinsic or core muscles like the backs of the arms, the inner thighs, the tush, the middle upper back, and of course the deep waist shrinking abs that are often difficult to engage in traditional workouts.   And we need to engage the mind if we want to engage those muscles and 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! You can also check out more of my foam rolling videos here.

4. Who would you say, in particular, can benefit from it? 

Anyone who just wants to move and feel better and integrate some self-care into their lives can benefit from the roller – and let’s be honest, at one time or other, that is basically all of us!   So if you’re suffering from persistent pain, poor posture, general stress or pain, rolling can help you – whether you’re a yogi or an athlete or just someone who is trying to juggle a busy life, work, and other commitments.

The bottom line is that our modern lives take a toll.  We’re over-worked, over-busy, over-stressed, over-fed - and with the constant bombardment of being connected to email and social media 24/7, we’re also over-stimulated.  The result of all this is our bodies get jacked, tight, stiff and compressed.  We slump at desks all day, hunched over our computers and phones.  Our necks and backs get out of whack.   We end up with poor posture, neck pain, digestive issues, tendonitis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and a myriad of other physical ailments that are a result of the way we’re living our lives.  Add to this that many of us have suffered injuries over the years that often cause chronic pain and lack of mobility - and the result is that many people are simply living in misery and not getting the most out of our bodies or lives.

So whether you’re an athlete or you simply find yourself sitting at a desk all day, pain and immobility create a vicious cycle because these issues contribute to poor posture and alignment, which in turn have an adverse effect on metabolism, digestion, energy levels, pain and overall wellness. So if any of these issues sound like something you’re familiar with, the program I outline in Taller Slimmer Younger and in my videos can truly help you.  Using the foam roller as a self-care tool will help roll away the tension, stress, and congestion and improve alignment and suppleness in your body which will completely rejuvenate your mind body and soul.  And who wouldn’t want that?

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5. What sort of foam roller do you recommend? 

 A lot of people think of the roller as some sort of torture device because they’ve tried a very hard roller and found it painful.  Rolling isn’t necessarily always super comfortable, but it should not be painful either and many of the rollers out there are frankly too hard.  I did a lot of research and ended up developing my own roller, the LoRox Aligned Roller that I have found to be the perfect density for most people.  I also developed a smaller Travel Roller that is small enough to pop into your carry-on bag and is perfect for rolling out the kinks when you’re on the road.  You can find a link to these rollers and free videos on my site at www.laurenroxburgh.com - but if you have a roller you like to use that will be totally fine too!

6. What advantages of foam rolling have you seen personally in your own life? 

Although I’ve worked with hundreds of clients, I am first and foremost my own guinea pig. I’ve been a swimmer since the age of four.  As a collegiate athlete and water polo player, I pushed myself physically constantly, yet still wasn’t satisfied with what I saw in the mirror.  I read all of the fitness magazines and books, and they all recited the same mantra over and over again: Run more! Do more cardio!  So I did.  The end result was that I had great muscle tone, but was also hungry, thick, tight, wide and far from feeling like my best self.  It wasn’t until I ditched the cardio and intense training and turned to relieving, aligning, elongating, hydrating and stretching my body with the foam roller that things began to change in a big way—suddenly, I was taller, slimmer, and looked younger.  My body became more streamlined and lithe.  Best of all, I felt lighter and better.  It’s safe to say that I look way better at thirty-eight than I ever did in my twenties.  And, might I add, this program allowed me to maintain all of this post-pregnancy.  So the reason I’m such an evangelist for foam rolling is it has made a huge difference in my own body, vitality, and life.

If you want to try at home, check out Lauren's videos here on VHX. She's offering 30% off on her Body Love Bundle for my readers with the code MollySims. Here's a free sneak peek: 

Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.