The OG Waist-Slimming Trick

A great foam roller can help change a person’s shape, says structural integrative specialist and goop expert Lauren Roxburgh. Fascia—the connective tissue in our bodies that wraps our muscles and, at worst, may knot together to impede movement, slump posture, and cause pain—can be manipulated by using a foam roller. Roxburgh finds that foam rolling regularly for a few minutes a day can help slim and define the waist, even in postpartum women (who often believe that giving up an hourglass shape is the price they paid to have kids). One of the reasons for the lingering thickness postpartum, Roxburgh says, is that the fascia builds up through the lower back to support the belly, then stays there.

For those who didn’t have a baby in the past few years, but who experience routine bloating or weight gain in the mid-section, foam rolling may help, too. “The good news is that while you need to do a bit of work, there really is a magic bullet that can help shrink your waist,” Roxburgh says. “All you need to do is create length and space in your core.” Below, she walks us through the virtues of foam rolling and gives us a series of chiseling exercises that are easy to do at home.

A Q&A with Lauren Roxburgh


Why do we gain weight around our midsections?


There are myriad factors, including poor diet, stress, hormonal imbalances, emotional eating, lack of adequate rest, and not moving our bodies enough—but the role of gravity and the impact of posture on our connective tissue are important, too. Over time, gravity and the weight of our upper body can cause the space between the ribs and the hips to get squished and compressed, which in turn contributes to a shortening and thickening of the waist. When our waistlines shorten, all the muscles, tissues, organs, skin, and fat start to bulge out to the sides, making us look and feel thicker than we really are. To make matters worse, this may also negatively influence digestion, metabolism, circulation, oxygenation, and organ and gland efficiency, leading to bloating, density, and inflammation. When more space is available for movement, breath, and circulation in this vital area, not only does the entire waist shrink and the midsection lengthen, but energy increases and people stand taller.

The waist tends to be neglected in our everyday lives: We spend a lot of time sitting, slouching, driving, and working on computers (or texting). During my structural integration training, we analyzed the way people in different cultures walk. Not surprisingly, those of us in the West tend to walk—excuse the term—as if we have a stick up our asses. We’re rigid, tight, anxious, and inflexible and carry the stresses of our daily lives in our gait. Conversely, many people in African and South American cultures tend to walk with a more relaxed movement: Their hips swing, their torsos twist side to side, their heads are held high, and they have a more graceful presence overall. What this style of walking also means is that they are effectively doing core work in the muscles and fascia of their torsos with every step, toning the core while also helping to flush toxins, unwind tension, and release stress. The roller moves below will help your body twist, “ringing out” your organs, helping to increase oxygenation throughout, and whittling your waist in the process.


How does fascia contribute to this thickness?


Fascia is critical because it actually helps to create the shape of our bodies. Fascia is like a very thin wetsuit just under the skin that wraps around individual muscle and keeps everything in place. It’s that thin, white, stringy layer you see on a chicken breast when you’re cooking.

When it’s healthy, fascia is like clear saran wrap. But injuries, stress, bad posture, emotional behavioral patterns, and poor body maintenance can cause fascia to get tight, dense, short, and plasticized. This further restricts movement, and the alignment and efficiency of the body can be compromised, trapping toxins in the fascia and leading to thicker “pockets” throughout the body—such as those that often form around the waist.

The good news is that fascia is malleable and can be repaired—and foam rolling and bodywork are both fantastic ways of doing so.


Is it possible to create a waistline if you’ve never had one before?


The optimal waistline differs for every person. Certain foam-rolling exercises help find your best waist and most elongated torso, as well as create the space in your body to stretch out a bit.


What are these roller exercises actually doing to your underlying structure?


The foam roller acts as a tool for myofascial release, lubricating your tissues and joints, melting away stress, and boosting circulation. The roller gets into the fascia in much the same way that a deep-tissue massage does, working out the toxins and scar tissue and helping to reformulate the structure of the muscles into a sleeker, leaner, more flexible form. The roller also helps us tap into our intrinsic and core muscles.

Incorporated with Pilates-inspired movements, the foam roller essentially destabilizes us. In order to balance, we have to “turn on” those core and intrinsic muscles that can be difficult to activate, even in most gym exercises or cardio workouts. The great thing about a foam roller is that you can take it on the road or do it at night before bed. It takes just a few minutes, allowing you to work smarter and not necessarily harder.

Lauren Roxburgh is a body alignment, fascia, and movement specialist with a private practice based in LA. She is also the author of Taller, Slimmer, Younger; and the creator of the LoRox Aligned Rollers.

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.