ANGELES ó Maybe your shoulders are achy from time spent bent
over a computer keyboard. Perhaps your running has tightened
your quads and calves to the point of cramping.
the cause, foam rollers are an inexpensive and growing answer
to tight muscles, soft tissue pain, knots and other problems
connected to the fascial system, the web of soft, connective
tissue in the body. Rollers stretch and massage the areas ó
and that helps athletic performance, says trainer Ashley
and other trainers and teachers are using them in classes of
all kinds, and gyms are stocking them.
out opens you up; itís your own deep tissue massage,"
Borden says. "Which of us can afford a masseuse every
morning before we work out?"
met us at the bustling Fitness Factory L.A. in West Hollywood
to show how rolling works. Itís a tool, she says, "to
trouble shoot your own body," and it can help with
mobility, balance, alignment and relief from aches and pains.
mistake it for a relaxing spa massage. Rolling out can range
from comfortable to downright painful ó not unlike the
discomfort from a really strong stretch. But you should feel
experience made Borden a fan of rollers. "I was a dancer,
and I thought I had great posture," she said, adding that
in training, she learned otherwise. So she began using rollers
to adjust her alignment. "I saw how my body changed, and
it felt better."
is to target various places from head to toe where there are
tight muscles or knots by getting into specific positions and
rolling over the target area, generally 10 times, to ease the
problem. Avoid rolling directly on bones or joints, Borden
suggests trying the stretches before a workout or in the
evening while watching TV. "I spend a lot of quality time
with my roller," she joked.
feeling uncertain can consult a doctor or fitness
professional, Borden said.
come in various levels of firmness. The softest roller is for
people who are fragile for any reason. Borden uses PVC pipe,
which has no give at all. She suggests it for those who like a
tough workout. Some rollers have a soft outer grid. Most of
them are compressed beads and keep their shape for a long
time. There are even very short ones that fit in a carry-on
brands are available online and in sports stores, from around
$15 to $65. Lacrosse and other balls also can be used in a
similar way to get at specific sore spots.
has a downloadable guide to rolling out, available for free on