Wellness

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MEGAN TRIES IT

The Fix for Endless Sitting Is Foam Rolling

An Unexpected Way to Get Shiny,
    Frizz-Free Hair

Megan O’Neill is the senior beauty editor at goop. Which is another way of saying she has a passion for clean products, loves anything that reduces stress, and will happily guinea pig herself in the name of wellness.

“Something’s wrong with me,” I told Tom, my acupuncturist. I’m sprawled across his table, perspiring from my mad dash here from the office. But the strain of getting here is always worth the calm I walk out with.

“I’m achy and sore. And not just sometimes, all the time. I’m thirty-three, but I feel like an old lady when I’m hoisting myself out of my chair.”

“Do you move and stretch enough?” Tom hovers at my shins, figuring out where to tap his needles to rouse my stagnant chi, seemingly unconcerned.

“I generally go to yoga two or three times a week, I take the occasional weight-lifting class, and I pretty much walk everywhere on weekends.”

“But do you move consistently throughout the day?” He’s got me.

Once I’m in the office, I’m hunkered down at my desk until I go home. It dawns on me that the only time my limbs don’t feel leaden is right after or during a workout or when I’m walking.

I wish I could say that right then and there I changed my sedentary ways and started taking hour-long lunch strolls and doing a lap around goop’s airy loft space every thirty minutes to stretch my legs. I didn’t. (I’m a work in progress; one day I’ll get there.) But I did start foam rolling every night after work. And so far, it’s been miraculous: My limbs feel better, as do my often-ragged nerves.

I tried it one night after a typical day of endless sitting. On my living room floor, I lay atop the cylinder made of foam, positioning it beneath

I wish I could say that right then and there I changed my sedentary ways and started taking hour-long lunch strolls and doing a lap around goop’s airy loft space every thirty minutes to stretch my legs. I didn’t. (I’m a work in progress; one day I’ll get there.) But I did start foam rolling every night after work. And so far, it’s been miraculous: My limbs feel better, as do my often-ragged nerves.

I first tried it one night after a typical day of endless sitting. On my living room floor, I lay atop the cylinder made of foam, positioning it beneath my thigh. Then, lying on my side, I eased slowly back and forth, rolling out my tight quadriceps. After five minutes, I switched to my other thigh. It felt…bracing, satisfying, fruitful. The hurts-so-good tinge of discomfort from smoothing out a kink is the best part, like getting a dynamite deep-tissue massage from a no-nonsense masseuse. The other best part is how airy and decompressed I felt immediately after. The feeling even continued into the next day.

my thigh. Then, lying on my side, I eased slowly back and forth, rolling out my tight quadriceps. After five minutes, I switched to my other thigh. It felt…bracing, satisfying, fruitful. The hurts-so-good tinge of discomfort from smoothing out a kink is the best part, like getting a dynamite deep-tissue massage from a no-nonsense masseuse. The other best part is how airy and decompressed I felt immediately after. It even continued into the next day.

The reason foam rolling is said to be so effective is that it works on our fascia, the body’s protective layer of connective tissue that wraps every muscle. Being sedentary, slouching at a computer, and stressing out—is there anyone today who can’t check off at least two of those?—can cause fascia to bunch and knot, impeding movement and creating pain and stiffness. Foam rolling manipulates the fascia, helping to relieve tension. (Harvard Medical School held the first international Fascia Research Congress in 2007, helping to boost awareness of fascia’s important role in the body. The Congress will meet for the fifth time, later this year in Berlin.)

It’s also five or ten minutes (or however long you choose to do it for) of not gazing at a screen. Foam rolling is calming in the same way that exercise is: Instead of fruitlessly fixating on things you have no control over, you’re consumed by the physicality of the activity. It’s especially reviving after a long flight. On work trips to LA, I now nestle the brilliant travel-size roller into my suitcase and use it on the sliver of floor between the hotel bed and TV.

I’ve been rolling practically every area of my body—the tops and sides of my thighs, my butt, my waist—to feel more fluid. A consistent practice may also help streamline your shape, according to structural integrative specialist and goop expert Lauren Roxburgh, who designed this particular foam roller. Roxburgh is trained in body-alignment techniques, is certified in Pilates, and legit has the most killer body and hypnotically chiseled abs I’ve ever seen.

When I do it consistently, I feel positively spry. When I do it consistently and make an effort to go for walks at lunch and regularly see Tom for a chi-moving tune-up, I’m on top of the world.

Related: Foam Rolling Exercises

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