I was recently back in Chicago for the first time in over a decade. It’d been awhile since I’d seen some of my MidWest contingent and many were complimentary about the positive change in my figure. As someone who has struggled with the scale for most of my adult life, my weight has fluctuated madly. But since I turned 50 three years ago, I have dropped two sizes and stayed there. I’ve done this without going on some crazy diet. Or exercising like a mad woman. Both of which have been my MO in the past.
In fact, when it comes to exercise, I am actually doing less. But what I am doing is more effective for my aging body. It involves cardio in the form of walking and rebounding on a mini-trampoline. And working out with a foam roller to build strength while also stretching and lengthening my muscles. Think of it like Pilates mat exercises, but with the aid of a foam roller.
However, there is another huge benefit to working your muscles with a foam roller: It releases your fascia.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is the layer of connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and organs. It is made up primarily of collagen.
When we are young, our fascia is loose and pliable. But with age, injury and certain lifestyle choices such as wearing fabulous high heels, not standing properly or doing lots of high impact aerobics, our fascia becomes bunched and tight. It can even form adhesions. The result is muscle pain, yes. But there is also a school of thought that tight fascia traps fat.
Roll the Fascia, Eliminate Fat
Body sculptors are popping up in major cities around the world claiming that manipulating your fascia with deep massage will change the shape of your body by releasing stored fat. I don’t know if these claims are true. But I can say that my daily use of the foam roller, which is a much milder form of what these body sculptors perform, has completely transformed my body. Areas where I have traditionally held bulk no matter what my weight are slimmer and more toned. This is especially astounding given the fact that I am at an age where most women, thanks the menopause, become thicker.
Benefits of Foam Roller Workout
The most obvious benefit of the foam roller workout is that it can help roll away fat from areas where you don’t want it. It’s also:
- Fast. I only spend about 10 minutes a day on the roller section of my workout.
- An easy way to stretch your muscles. This becomes more and more important as we age.
- Is a fantastic mind/body workout. Because you have to be really conscious of your form while doing these exercises, it forces you to stay in the moment. So besides toning my muscles, my time on the foam roller is also like a mini meditation.
There are lots of different foam roller workouts out there. I love the one by Lauren Roxburgh. I started with her book “Taller, Slimmer, Younger” (buy it here). It’s an easy to use 21 day program that will redesign your body and your mind. Because attitude matters. We hold a lot of emotions in our body and releasing them can actually change your shape. Once I finished the book, I downloaded her videos. Some days, I will pick a workout from the book. Others, I will do a video.
Foam rollers themselves are easy to find and inexpensive. However, you want to buy one that is soft like this one. It’s going to be digging into sensitive areas like your groin so you don’t want anything stiff.
I even travel with this mini-foam roller.
It allows me to take my workout with me wherever I go. It’s also an ideal way to undo the stress of cramped planes, crowded airports and too soft beds. So, there you go. These are my secretes: walking, rebounding and the foam roller workout. Give one or all a try and let me know what you think.