Our switched on LA contributor Nicola Alpe shares how and why she’s become a Foam Rolling Fan Girl. Here’s what you need to know…
Everyone is foam rolling. My physiotherapist friend is telling me to do it. My friend’s husband is swearing by it. My architect friend does it at the gym. Even the delivery guy who came to the door in the middle of my rolling workout does it.
Despite purchases of foam rollers and all these people telling me the benefits, I never really got it. I mean huh? You loll about on this roller doing the same moves over and over, usually targeting my IT band which everyone says is too tight and is the cause of my back pain. One word comes to mind – boring. The next word that comes to mind is painful. Having your body weight rolling over your IT band is not pleasant.
It wasn’t until I was reading the Goop newsletter one day that I learned about Lauren Roxburgh, who Gwyneth Paltrow calls The Body Whisperer. Say what you will about Goop, but they know their stuff when it comes to fashion, food, restaurants, skincare and fitness. My love of Goop runs deep, deeper still now that I actually live in LA and can visit the gorgeousness of the Goop Lab in Brentwood.
Back to Lauren Roxburgh. A past college athlete who has become an expert in therapeutic bodywork techniques, Lo Rox as she is known to her devotees, extolls the benefits of R + R – rolling and rebounding. From a friend’s couch I quickly signed up to her 10-week Taller Slimmer Younger programme. Sounds like just another vanity sign up, I mean who doesn’t want to turn back the clock and glide around gracefully like a lithe and gorgeous being? But my motivation was more than that.
Having had periods of back injuries sustained playing tennis at high school, instructing aerobics at university and then playing far too much tennis at too high a level for far too long whilst pregnant, I needed help. Waking up in the morning was dreadful. Much groaning and sighing accompanied shuffling to the bathroom where I could barely bend at all. If I gave my husband a dollar for every time I said I felt soo old and my spine soo compacted, he would have at least been able to go out for a slap-up dinner and bottle of Champagne! I figured paying a couple of hundred dollars for an online programme I could do anywhere and in my own time was a small price to pay for some relief from my misery.
Each week the programme focuses on a different part of the body and after the first short workout (all 13-20 minutes long) I literally felt euphoric. It was a blessing that week one focuses on the back. I felt gently stretched, I felt space between my vertebrae and I felt a sense of lightness. Not in my weight, but in my frame. I felt like my bones were finally given a break from carrying around deep aches in my muscles. The aches and pains were still there but they quietened down for a few hours and gave me an air of positivity for the first time in nearly three years.
Fast forward about nine months and I have entered foam roller fandom, or perhaps I should say Lo Rox Fandom. I have completed the ten-week Taller Slimmer Younger programme three times and have since joined her online studio, where more specific workouts are posted. I roll first thing in the morning because if I don’t, my body lets me know with stiffness for hours. I sometimes roll last thing at night and the deep and restful sleep that follows means I wake up feeling my actual age in the morning instead of that of my dearly departed Grandmother.
I have taken Lo Rox’s advice to the next level and am channeling my mother circa 1989 and have invested in a Bellicon rebounder. I have to fight my daughter at times to get on the thing, but a 30-minute choreographed bounce and a roll make for a sensationally low impact and effective workout. Gone are the pounding joints from running on pavements to get the cardio fix.
The benefits of foam rolling and specifically the Lo Rox method is that your connective tissues that wrap each muscle, called fascia, are gently lubricated, stretched and hydrated. Rolling encourages movement in your lymphatic system and works hand in hand with rebounding for noticeable lymphatic benefits. Deep core muscles are stretched and massaged and the roller acts as a prop allowing for deeper engagement and deeper stretching. Ironically enough, a few weeks into this programme a tuned in therapist found the root of my problem – my left quadratus lumborum muscle, QL for short. Your QL muscle is the deepest abdominal muscle, wraps around posteriorly and is often mistaken for a back muscle because that is where the pain comes from. Once this darling muscle was found to be the problem, two week later there was a QL release on the roller for that week’s workout. I nearly wept tears of sweet relief at finally knowing what the issue was and I’ve worked on the roller to alleviate the hot, sharp and constant pain I had been experiencing for years.
These days it depends on what time I’ve gone to bed as to how long I dither about before I get up but if I roll in the morning it makes for a much easier day ahead of me and if I am travelling I take a travel roller with me. Who doesn’t want to feel supple and able to move with ease all day? The great thing about Lauren’s method is that it works all parts of the body and regardless of which programme you sign up to, you will receive so much material, advice, support and workouts for it.
The gift of movement without pain is something to be cherished and appreciated and thanks to ‘Lo Rox’ I am about to embark on a new decade feeling much more in control of my body’s destiny.
To get started with foam rolling in NZ you can buy yours online from our #goodmates SUNA PILATES
To find out more about why pilates is #goodforyou watch this now