- Can Foam Rolling Really Get Rid of Cellulite?
- Foam Rolling for Cellulite: Why It Doesn’t Work
- How To Use Foam Roller For Cellulite Reduction
- The Technique For Reducing Cellulite
- Foam Roller Cellulite Reduction Exercises
- The Figure Four Roll:
- Side Hip Roll:
- Front Thigh Roll:
- Back Thigh Roll:
- Inverted Buttocks Roll:
- Recovery Roll:
- How It Works For Reducing Cellulite
- Full Body Health For Optimum Cellulite Reduction
- How Foam Rolling Can Actually Help Reduce Cellulite
- How Foam Roller Exercises Reduce Cellulite
- Week 1
- Week 2
- Week 3
- Week 4
Can Foam Rolling Really Get Rid of Cellulite?
Westend61 / Matthias Drobeck Getty Images
Using a foam roller is a proven way to loosen tight muscles, speed recovery after a tough workout, and prevent injuries. Lately, though, we’ve been hearing about another big benefit of rolling out: banishing cellulite. The FasciaBlaster, MELT Rollers, and Be Aligned Rollers all promise to erase those annoying lumps and bumps under the skin.
Cellulite affects all body types—even people who are super-fit and toned—and up to 90% of women will experience it in their lifetimes. So it seems almost too good to be true to think that massaging your body with a foam cylinder could make dimples disappear on your legs and butt. But it turns out it does work—sort of.
First, it’s important to understand what cellulite really is. “Cellulite is a genetic condition that makes you predisposed to having fibrous bands between your fat cells,” says S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, dermatologist and CEO and founder of Miami Skin Institute. Everyone has a layer of fat separating their skin and muscles; for some, this fat layer lies smooth, but those with lots of fibrous bands wind up with that cottage cheese appearance on the surface of the skin, says Dr. Jegasothy.
The idea behind foam rolling for cellulite is that it breaks up and loosens fascia (connective tissue that protects and separates muscles), Dr. Jegasothy says, allowing fat to lie flat under the skin. And after some foam rolling or self-massage with a myofascial release/trigger point ball, you will see some skin-smoothing benefits. “What myofascial release devices might do as a side effect is create a little bit of superficial edema, or swelling, and that can actually make the surface of the skin seem a little smoother,” says Dr. Jegasothy. “That’s why people think maybe it will improve the appearance of the dimpling from cellulite.
If a quick visual improvement is what you want, then roll away. Just don’t expect the results to last for more than a few days. “It doesn’t do anything for the fibrous bands, and it’s a very transient effect…so we don’t consider that a viable treatment for cellulite,” Dr. Jegasothy says.
New York City-based dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, agrees. “It can temporarily help. Foam rolling is essentially plumping up the dermis, which overlies the pockets of fat that tend to bulge in cellulite. This makes it hard to see the uneven fluctuations beneath as easily—hence the improvement in the appearance of cellulite,” she says.
If you’re looking for a more long-term treatment for cellulite, Dr. Jegasothy says there are two effective treatments. One, radio frequency, is a device that tightens the fibrous bands that create cellulite so they lie flat against the skin. Results last for three to six months. “The cellulite does come back,” says Dr. Jegasothy. “People age on an ongoing basis and form more fibrous bands, so it does require maintenance.”
RELATED: Does Dry Brushing Really Reduce Cellulite?
The other treatment option helps with deep dimples. It’s called Cellfina, and it’s a machine that actually cuts and releases the fibrous band that’s pulling down on the skin and creating the dimple.
If you want to try to foam roll away your cellulite, go for it. There’s no danger in doing so, and your skin may smooth out temporarily. Just don’t expect your dimply skin to go away forever—and remember, you’re in good company.
Foam Rolling for Cellulite: Why It Doesn’t Work
Over the past decade, foam rollers have become a ubiquitous piece of exercise equipment, found almost anywhere people like to sweat. In general, foam rollers are cylindrical sections of hard foam, approximately 6 inches in diameter, and available in a variety of textures and lengths. Softer foam rollers are pliable and mold to the shape of a muscle, while denser foam rollers are made from more solid foam or have plastic centers, both of which can apply more pressure to muscle tissue. Some rollers are composed of a solid cylinder of foam, while others have textured grooves or patterns that can apply different amounts of pressure to a section of muscle.
While foam rollers have many uses for improving how the body moves, they CANNOT eliminate cellulite. The body stores excess energy as fat in adipose tissue and cellulite, which is the layer of fat interwoven between the muscle, skin and fibrous connective tissue. Cellulite holds water, so if it becomes dehydrated it can lead to the dimpled look we often associate with this tissue that typically affects the thigh, hip and gluteal regions of the body. If you want to get rid of cellulite, the best method is to increase your level of physical activity so that you are burning energy instead of storing it in your body. In addition, maintaining proper hydration ensures that you keep enough water in your cells, which can help reduce the dimpled appearance of cellulite.
Even if they can’t eliminate cellulite, foam rollers are great tools for keeping people active. Here are five specific benefits that you can experience from using a foam roller as part of your fitness program:
- Using a foam roller can help reduce tightness in muscle and connective tissue. If muscle tissue on one side of a joint is too tight, it can restrict that joint’s range of motion and change the ability of surrounding muscles to control movement. There are two theories about how foam rolling reduces tightness: (1) the roller places tension on the muscle, which sends a signal for the muscle to relax and lengthen; and (2) the friction from moving on the muscle increases heat in the muscle, causing it to lengthen. The bottom line is that using a foam roller can be an effective form of stretching that reduces tightness and increases muscle length.
- Using a foam roller can help break up the collagen adhesions responsible for creating “knots” in muscle tissue. Muscle tissue is organized in layers; collagen is an inelastic connective tissue found parallel to muscle fibers. Collagen helps increase the tensile strength of muscle tissue, thus lowering the risk of strain injuries like a pulled muscle. A sedentary lifestyle with minimal amounts of physical activity means that, instead of sliding against one another, as happens during movement, the layers of muscle tissue rest against one another. If a muscle is not regularly lengthened, collagen will bind between the layers and restrict the ability of the tissue to lengthen and shorten. Using a foam roll can break up the collagen adhesion and ensure that layers of muscle tissue have the ability to slide against one another.
- Using a foam roller is like getting a massage. A massage therapist is trained to identify muscle adhesions and use manual pressure to break up the adhesions, allowing the muscle to lengthen and shorten without any restrictions. To identify adhesions using a foam roller, slowly move over the roller until you feel a point of soreness. Slowly move the sore area forward and backward over the foam roller to increase pressure and generate heat, allowing the tissues to lengthen. Getting a daily massage can be expensive, but investing in a foam roller and using it on a regular basis can provide many of the same benefits at a fraction of the cost.
- A foam roller can be used during the warm-up component of a workout to reduce muscle tightness, as part of the post workout cool-down to help muscle return to a normal resting length, OR between workouts to help reduce overall muscle tightness and improve feelings of relaxation.
- Reducing muscle tightness can help you move into a complete range of motion, allowing you to improve your overall mobility. For example, using a foam roll to reduce tightness in the quadriceps and hip flexor muscles on the front of the thighs can help you increase mobility of the hip joints, allowing you to experience a deeper range of motion during a squat or lunge. Likewise, reducing tightness in the gastrocnemius and soleus (calf) muscles responsible for creating plantar flexion (pointing your toes) can allow the lower leg (tibia and fibula) to experience greater forward movement during the downward phase of the squat.
While foam rollers can’t eliminate cellulite, they are still incredibly useful for reducing muscle tightness and improve overall flexibility, which will enable you to be more active and healthy.
By now you probably know the benefits of foam rolling for workout recovery. But did you know that using a foam roller can also help to get rid of cellulite? This concept comes as a revolution to many, and if you’re one of the millions of people who have cellulite, simply using a foam roller can drastically change your life.
This post was last updated on 5/30/2019.
Table of Contents
- What is cellulite?
- Does foam rolling reduce cellulite?
- How to use a foam roller for cellulite
What is cellulite?
The term cellulite was first used in the early 1920s and didn’t come into popular usage in the US until the ’60s.
According to an article in the Journal of the European Academy of
Dermatology and Venereology, cellulite (or Gynoid lipodystrophy) is skin dimpling and nodularity in the pelvic regions – specifically the butt, lower legs, and abdomen. It is common in 80-90% of adult women around the world. Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of cellulite, doctors say that they include changes in metabolism, physiology, diet and exercise habits, hormonal factors, genetic factors, and other causes.
Does foam rolling reduce cellulite?
Yes!! Foam rolling, a form of self-myofascial release, is a type of self deep-tissue massage. It can help work out “knotted” muscles, and increase blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. The same reasons that foam rolling helps after a strenuous workout also makes it great for eliminating cellulite. By foam rolling areas with cellulite, you’re massaging the fatty deposits underneath the surface of the skin, which helps to break up the interwoven fat fibers. As a result, the connective tissue and fat fibers go back to normal, and the hypodermis reduces in size. This means smoother, more youthful skin.
In fact, using a foam roller for cellulite actually has scientific backing. A recent article published in May 2019 by Cogent Medicine magazine, showed that women who used a myofasical release tool 5 days a week for 12 weeks showed a marked reduction in cellulite.
Foam rolling cellulite has been proved to be an effective treatment for women of all ages. It is so effective, in fact, that Michele Promaulayko, the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health, featured the technique in her book “20 Pounds Younger: The Life-Transforming Plan for a Fitter, Sexier You!“.
How to use a foam roller for cellulite
Back of Thigh Roll
The first exercise we’ll do to blast away the cellulite is foam roll the back of the thighs. Place your foam roller on the ground, and sit atop it, resting the foam roller just above the back of your knees. Place your hands behind you for support, then slowly put weight onto your hands in order to lift your butt into the air. You should now be sort of sitting on top of the foam roller, with your hands taking part of your weight. Now, slowly roll forwards, so that the foam roller moves towards your torso, rolling up the back of your thighs. Once you reach the end of your thigh, roll back the other direction. This should be a very slow action, taking roughly 10 seconds to move up each leg. Repeat this for about a minute or two.
The video below, presented by Howcast, explains how to foam roll the hamstrings. This is very similar to the technique used to roll the back of the thighs, so take a look real quick to see this exercise in action.
Front of Thigh Roll
Now that we’ve hit the back of the thighs, let’s foam roll the cellulite on the front of the thighs. Things are pretty much just the opposite of before. Start with the roller on the ground, and this time lay on top of it, face down. The roller should be above your knees, at the bottom of your thighs. With your hands out in front of you, to balance and take some of the weight, roll forward on the roller, moving it up your thighs. If this exercise is new to you and you find it a little difficult, you can use your tip-toes to push yourself back and forth. Once you’ve had some practice though, it’s best not to use the toes (the more weight on the roller, the better).
Here’s an excellent video showing the proper technique for foam rolling the cellulite in the front of your thighs:
The Glute Roll
We frequently recommend that athletes foam roll both the gluteus maximus as well as the gluteus medius. The good news is, these same rolls will help reduce cellulite in the butt area! To foam roll the cellulite in your butt, first place the roller on the ground, then sit with your butt directly on top of it. Your feet should be on the ground, with your legs bent at 90 degrees. Your hands should be placed behind you, supporting some of your weight. Lean slightly to one side, then slowly roll back and forth. Repeat for about a minute, then switch sides. If you work out some kinks while you’re eliminating that cellulite, then it’s a win-win! Below is a video describing the exercise.
T Bart Jameson, Ashley D. Black, Matthew H. Sharp, Jacob M. Wilson, Matthew W. Stefan & Swetanshu Chaudhari | Udo Schumacher (Reviewing editor) (2019) The effects of fascia manipulation with fascia devices on myofascial tissue, subcutaneous fat and cellulite in adult women, Cogent Medicine, 6:1, DOI: 10.1080/2331205X.2019.1606146
How To Use Foam Roller For Cellulite Reduction
Lisiana CarterFollow Apr 5, 2018 · 6 min read Foam Roller Exercises For Cellulite Reduction
The Technique For Reducing Cellulite
Foam rollers have been used in fitness and physical therapy for many years as a way of recovering the body and the muscles by breaking up the fascia beneath the skin and releasing tension in sore muscles. Most people find the process of foam rolling to be both releasing and painful as it is not a comfortable experience for the body to make such a release. But what experts are starting to learn is that foam rolling, and the act of breaking up the fascia under the skin, is not only good for fitness and muscle recovery but it helps in the treatment and prevention of cellulite. When the fibrous tethers in the fat under our skin age and begin to displace irregularly, it causes a dimpling under the skin that results in what we know as cellulite. Keeping your fascia “healthy” is one way to fix the appearance of that dimpling. But foam rolling once is not going to remove all of your cellulite and cause you to have flawless perfect skin. It is a process just like anything else, and requires a maintenance and persistence in achieving the results that you desire.
Foam Roller Cellulite Reduction Exercises
Using a foam roller effectively to achieve the desired results in diminishing your cellulite, is achievable if you choose to work at it everyday. Some of the basic exercises to focus on to reduce your cellulite are:
The Figure Four Roll:
Sit on the roller with your arms behind you stretched out so that you are keeping yourself stable while you balance your bottom on the roller. Cross one shin over the other knee to create a figure four shape and gently start rocking back and fourth, working out the kinks in your behind until you slowly start to roll in circle, pushing your muscle and fascia into different areas of your backside, smoothing it out in slow and intentional motions.
Side Hip Roll:
Lay on your side with the foam roller underneath your hip. Use your resting arm as balance with your wrist crease underneath your armpit for support. Bend your top leg and ground your foot for support as you extend your other leg to keep your hips off the ground and stable. Use your grounded hand and foot for support to slowly roll the side of your body along the foam roller, using your body weight as pressure to smooth out your muscles and skin. Adjust your weight to shift your pressure and creates new point of tension to roll away. Repeat on other side
Front Thigh Roll:
With your belly lying on the mat, place your elbows underneath your shoulders making sure to place your palms face down. Place the roller just above your knees but make sure to keep your legs straight. Engage your core and glute muscles and press into your hips so that your legs stay engaged as you slowly roll your foam roller across your hips and down your thighs. Rock a bit from side to side as you roll out your muscles and connective tissue in this deeply engaging recovery movement.
Back Thigh Roll:
Sit on the ground with your legs outstretched, place the roller underneath your upper legs or hamstrings, place your hands behind your back for support, engage your core and lift your hips. Continue to keep your legs straight and body engaged as you glide the foam roller from your sit bones to just below your knees.
Inverted Buttocks Roll:
Lay on your back with your knees bent and legs hip-width distance apart. Lift your hips and place the foam roller underneath your buttocks. Lift your knees so that they are hovering directly above your hips, using your arms to stabilize you, rock your body from side to side, focusing on releasing any tension in your hips, butt and sacrum.
The final position for your rolling series is to make sure and roll out all of the kinks in a final detox pose. Lay on your back with with knees bent and your arms above your head cradling your neck. Place the foam roller underneath your back at the base of your spine. Use this time to roll slowly up and down your back, around your sacrum and through your shoulders. This detoxifying position is a way to keep good blood flow, as well as stretch out your back and upper body muscle to keep you limber. Because the most effective way to reduce cellulite is to keep your whole body in a healthy condition.
How It Works For Reducing Cellulite
Everyone’s body is made up of muscle and then a layer of fat over the muscle and then skin. What cellulite is, is the genetic condition that leaves your body predisposed to having these fibrous bands between your fat cells. In essence, your fat does not lay smoothly beneath your skin, but begins to wrinkle over time.
The myth here is that only people who have more fat on their body can have cellulite. This is not true because cellulite can affect anyone, regardless of their size, weight or fitness level. While it is more likely that someone who has more fat in between their skin and muscle will develop cellulite, it can not be predetermined who and when will get it. Cellulite has become a right of passage for most people, especially women, who tend to find they develop it as they age.
Most women have grown to accept it, but we are now learning that there are ways to reduce cellulite effectively that will allow you to have smoother and more flawless appearance.
It’s almost an inevitable right of passage for getting older, we have learned to accept it more than we have tried to fight it. As we age, we develop cellulite on our bodies that can be physically unappealing and uncomfortable. But what if there was a way to fight back against that unsightly cellulite that we have all come to accept as normal? We should accept our bodies and the natural process of aging, but we can work with that process to age in a graceful and more comfortable way. If cellulite is just the lack of muscle support that creates a sublayer of fat to dimple on the surface of the skin, then there are some precautions that we can take to make sure that our bodies stay tight and toned for effective cellulite reduction. One way that experts have discovered can treat and prevent cellulite from forming is to use a foam roller to break up and loosen the fascia under the skin and roll the cellulite away. Sounds easy? Here are some simple ways to use a foam roller to get rid of the cellulite on your body.
Full Body Health For Optimum Cellulite Reduction
While using a foam roller is an effective way at minimizing cellulite and keeping the fascia underneath your skin healthy. It is important to understand that the best way to keep your body looking young and feeling young is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The less weight you have on your body, the less fibrous tethers there are under the skin to pucker and create cellulite. Keeping healthy diet and getting rid of any excess fat underneath the skin will give you an advantage in the long run of effectively preventing and treating cellulite. Another great way to keep your body trim, toned and cellulite free is to focus on weight training. Fat is not the only reason that your bodies fascia begins to break down a cellulite appears. When your muscles become weak, so does your fascia and can not hold the supple shape it once did. When you weight train and focus on keeping your muscles strong, you are also keeping the base of your whole skins physique strong and stable to keep that toned shape and reduce the effects that cellulite can have on your appearance.
While it is not scientifically proven that using a foam roller is going to completely get rid of your cellulite. It does help improve the look and health of your body as a whole. If you are able to target and treat the specific areas responsible for cellulite, you can more affectively find ways to prevent and get rid of cellulite. Focusing on the fascia between your muscle and your skin is the first step to improving the look of cellulite on your body and foam rolling is an effective method at doing just that. If you continue to consistently work on your foam rolling techniques while you simultaneously uphold a high standard of diet and fitness, your cellulite is as good as gone.
How Foam Rolling Can Actually Help Reduce Cellulite
As a society, we are obsessed with cellulite. For such a small imperfection, it causes quite a stir. But why are we so concerned about these bumpy, dimply lumps on our thighs… and butts and stomachs and sometimes arms? Well, because we ALL have them.
Seriously though, 90 percent of adult women confess to dealing with the annoying condition—so if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and bemoaned the sight of dimples on the backs of your thighs, you’re not alone.
The fact that cellulite is so commonplace explains why there are so many “cures” and treatments for the condition. At your local Sephora, you’ll likely find an aisle of caffeine-filled creams meant to temporarily improve the look of cellulite; if you’ve got a little more cash to spend, you might consider using a laser or electrotherapeutic treatment to break up the fat cells. And if you’d rather go all-natural, you can try a Power Plate fitness class (it’s a cellulite-blasting-sweat-inducing workout) or the Ayurvedic practice of dry brushing, which is often recommended to help improve lymphatic drainage and minimise the appearance of cellulite.
And then, of course, there’s foam rolling. Yes—that torturous activity that Kayla Itsines swears by to keep muscles lean and loose—has been said to help prevent, treat, and even disappear cellulite.
Foam rolling is a form of myofascial release—basically, it’s like giving your muscles a little massage. By applying pressure to sore muscles and tendons, foam rolling encourages knots and tense spots to release and relax. Rolling also encourages enhanced blood flow and lymphatic drainage—by sending fresh blood to the area that’s getting pressure, foam rolling reduces inflammation and swelling. This encourages the body to recover more quickly and feel better.
Proponents of the practice say that the same things that make foam rolling great for muscles—enhanced blood flow and increased lymphatic drainage—help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Because cellulite is caused by pockets of body fat that balloon up to the surface of the fascia, right below the dermis, the idea is that increasing circulation to the area strengthens fascia and prevents fat cells from pushing through to cause more dimpling.
But is there any proof, one way or another, that foam rolling works? Yes!
One study published in the Dermatology Research and Practice Journal examined the effects of “lymphatic massage” (essentially the same technique as foam rolling) on patients with cellulite on the stomach, thighs, and glutes. Body circumference measurements were taken before and after the study, and after two weeks the average participant lost 1.7 centimeters. Pretty solid results, right? Here’s the kicker—these patients enjoyed four hours of lymphatic massage a day. So unless you’re spending a third of your waking hours on the foam roller, don’t expect to see such positive results so quickly.
Here’s the thing—foam rolling is great for your body. It’s incredible for your muscles, and it’s great for improving blood flow and encouraging lymphatic drainage. But if you’re relying on your foam roller to give you cellulite-free Kayla legs, you might want to manage your expectations.
Check out which treatments actually work to get rid of cellulite here.
How Foam Roller Exercises Reduce Cellulite
Foam roller exercises have gained a lot of importance in the past few years. The main reason behind this is their ability to reduce cellulite. This is a common condition that occurs mostly with women. Cellulite is known to affect the skin of the abdomen, pelvic region and lower limbs, making them dimpled. This condition can also be found in men that are deficient in androgen. The main causes of cellulite are not well known. However, research indicates that cellulite can occur due to changes in physiology and metabolism, vascular changes, shifts in connective tissue structure and inflammatory processes.
Cellulite can be reduced through foam roller exercises on different parts of the body. Foam rollers are thick pieces of foam used for different types of exercises. Foam roller exercises help to massage areas and break up the interwoven fat fibers. They increase the flow of nutrient rich blood to these areas. It also helps to stretch connective tissues and improve circulation. This enables the body to expel abnormal fluid retention and toxins. Here are some foam roller exercises that can help to improve the appearance of your legs.
Place the foam roller on the ground and lie sideways on it. Roll out your outer thigh, which is also known as the IT band. This is a muscle which runs from the knee to the hip. Remember to stop and massage the tender areas for a few seconds. These are usually the areas with tighter muscle tissues. You may find it difficult to roll these muscles out or experience a little pain in the beginning. It becomes easier after you do it for a few days.
This may seem a little hard to do, but with a little practice it should not be difficult. To perform this foam roller exercise, you simply have to lie on top of the roller. Place your hands behind your back and then maneuver yourself forwards and backwards. Avoid rolling over the sensitive areas behind your knee. This foam roller exercise will require more balance than the others.
This foam roller exercise is easier than the other two. For this one, you will have to place the foam roller in the front of your body. Rest your thighs on the roller and use your hands to balance yourself. Move back and forth from your knee using your hands right up to your hip. This will help to massage and smoothen out all the cellulite on your thighs. Beginners can use their toes to propel themselves forwards. However, it’s best to use just the hands so that the thighs are massaged properly.
Performing these foam roller exercises for 20 minutes a day should be enough to get rid of cellulite. However, it’s important to be regular with these exercises. You can do this by including foam roller exercises in your daily workout schedule.
Confession: I’ve been an avid runner and regular exerciser for years, but I’ve never tried foam rolling.
Well, at least not regularly. I’d see foam rollers at my gym and play around with them once in a while. Foam rolling felt good, if not a little awkward, however, it also felt like too much “work.” If I’m going to be honest, I’ve always been the “get in, get out” type when it came to post-workout routines. The quicker I could stretch out my muscles with my go-to stretches and leave the gym, the better.
But after experiencing some extra tension and soreness post-workout, I realized I might have to bite the bullet and start a new post-workout routine with a foam roller. I decided I was going to challenge myself by foam rolling every day for a month and determine whether or not it was worth the hype.
To make sure I wasn’t “playing around” anymore, I consulted celebrity trainer Lalo Fuentes, CSCS, before I embarked on my foam rolling experiment. He provided some helpful tips and info on why foam rolling can be so effective.
Like, for instance, why foam rolling is important.
“Foam rolling is a method of self-myofascial release or pretty much giving yourself a deep tissue massage,” Fuentes told me. “As we train our muscles, we also need to take care of them by releasing the pressure collected during the exercise. As we are not pro-athletes who have the privilege of getting massages every day, we can with foam rollers. The rollers help our bodies recover faster, and also help prevent any injuries. Especially knee injuries.”
How often did I need to foam roll? “We should foam roll every time we exercise,” Fuentes said. “Either before or after, depending on the exercises you are doing that day.”
And since I exercise pretty much every day, I was going to foam roll everyday. Got it.
As for any foam rolling techniques, Fuentes recommended to “start with the quads, then inner legs, then the IT band, and I would finish with some upper back rolling.”
Lastly, I wanted to know, how long would it take to start seeing results?
“It could be right away, depending on what kind of issues you’re experiencing,” he said. “I started training a runner, and during my initial interview, she told me she had this knee pain. I offered right away to do some rolling, and she declined, stating that she had this pain for the last seven years and had seen five different doctors, MRIs, etc, so it’s ‘just the way her knee is.’ Thankfully, I convinced her to do some rolling anyway. Two weeks later, the pain was gone.”
So off I went rolling.
Remembering to foam rolling was my biggest challenge. I was programmed to quickly stretch and leave, so I basically had to rewire my brain to stop, drop and, literally, roll post-workout.
When I did remember to roll, my sessions generally lasted about seven to ten minutes. I used basic smooth foam rollers available at my gym, as well as a “bumpier” version that was harder on my muscles. Okay, actually, it was a lot harder and it hurt a lot. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but boy oh boy, that roller had me cringing and biting my lip. I decided I was going to lay off the bumpier one and use it only a couple times a week instead of every day — at least until I got used to it.
I woke up to bruises all over my legs and hips! I freaked out a bit, and then realized the culprit: the foam roller.
Turns out that, though not typical for everyone, bruising can occur from foam rolling. Basically, I had overdone it.
“If you are bruising because you are using a hard object, then you might want to step it down a notch. And if you are using a regular foam roller, then start slow, don’t try to solve the problem in one roll,” Fuentes told me. “Your muscles take some time to warm up and open up. You might not feel too much pain the first eight rolls on your quads when you do it for the first time, but after roll eight, when the muscles warm up and open up, then it goes deeper and that’s when a little pain might come up.”
A little? Well, thanks to the bruising, now foam rolling was hurting a little bit more than it normally does. But now I was going to follow Fuentes’ rule of thumb: rolling 15 times at each position and only rolling to a pain threshold that I still feel comfortable with.
Despite the extra pain, I noticed my quads and calves were loosening up. Progress!
Although my muscles were loosening up, I was still avoiding rolling out my IT band. As a regular runner, I knew that muscle would be my Achilles’ heel. It’s not only a super tight muscle, but after my bruising experience, I didn’t want any additional pain.
“Some people say that the IT band should not be loose and therefore foam rolling is bad for you,” Fuentes said. “But the whole purpose of foam rolling is not to loosen your IT band. It is merely to prevent knots that will translate into injuries.”
So I decided to bite the bullet and roll that muscle out good — or at least to my pain threshold. And, much to my delight, it didn’t hurt that much. Actually, it hurt good. Like that good pain that you know is really helping you, so you want it to hurt? It felt like that.
I also noticed that not only were my muscles less stiff and more malleable, but also some of my cellulite on my thighs had dissipated. Coincidence? Maybe not! While there isn’t any scientific evidence proving it, some experts have said that foam rolling can help reduce cellulite, albeit temporarily.
I admit because I was feeling so good, I didn’t always remember to foam roll. As a result, my muscles tightened up and some of my cellulite reappeared. Which is why I think foam rolling isn’t something you experiment with but is something you commit to in order to see the best results.
After four weeks, foam rolling hasn’t become second nature to me, but I do believe in its benefits because I’ve experienced them. As Fuentes said, “If we do it frequently, we are keeping our bodies knot free and pain-free.”
Which is why I’m trying to stop, drop, and roll daily.
Interested in foam rolling? These products are some of our favorites.
Fuentes says when given an array of foam rollers, he will always choose the 6″ inch round black foam roller, like this one from Perform Better.
PB Elite 6″ Firm Round Molded Foam Roller
Image via Perform Better
OA co-founder Laura Lynn Klein likes this one from RumbleRoller when she wants something extra firm at the gym. “Note on this one, be careful when using! If you push too hard you can bruise yourself so test it out and see how your body responds to it.”
Image via Amazon
Klein also recommends this one for a smoother and softer roll.
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
Image via Amazon
*Disclaimer: Help support Organic Authority! Our site is dedicated to helping people live a conscious lifestyle. We’ve provided some affiliate links above in case you wish to purchase any of these products.
Related on Organic Authority
What the Heck is Foam Rolling, and Should You be Doing It?
How BBG Changed Me: From Cardio Fiend to Resistance Training Advocate
5 Things I Learned From Running My First 10K Race