Roller Rx

Roller Rx - Pilates Foam Roller Exercises

By Lauren Roxburgh • Edited by Amanda Altman | Article & Images Featured on Pilates Style

I first came across the foam roller when I was working as a personal trainer in Los Angeles back in 2000, but it wasn’t until a year later, when I decided to expand my education with a certification in classical Pilates, that I recognized its potential. I quickly realized it was the perfect way to get a Pilates-based workout when I didn’t have access to the equipment—it was love at first roll.

But when I went back to school to study Structural Integration in 2009, I learned the true power of the foam roller: its ability to benefit the fascia—or connective tissue—and in turn, our overall health and vitality.

Fascia is a thin, web-like layer of connective tissue that lies under the skin and wraps around the muscles and organs, and can actually glue muscles together. In a healthy state, your fascia will be smooth, flexible and fluid. When emotional or physical trauma, inflammation, fear, surgeries, poor posture and repetitive stress happens in the body, fascia can become thick and tight, creating blockages, compression and pain.

Think of fascia like a sponge that has dried up and gone brittle and stiff. Add water to the sponge and it becomes fluid and supple. When you move on a roller, you’re effectively rehydrating the fascia and boosting lymphatic drainage to flush toxins, which is incredibly self-healing. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science backs the self-healing factor: Researchers found that foam rolling reduced cortisol levels and heart rate variability, which means it stimulated the parasympathetic nervous system to promote recovery.

Once I fully understood how fascia works, I came to realize the importance of the density and texture of the roller you’re using. So when I was writing my book, Taller, Slimmer, Younger – 21 Days to a Foam Roller Physique (Ballantine Books, 2016), I spent a year working with OPTP, the largest foam roller company in the U.S., to develop my own signature foam roller. The OPTP team was fantastic as we went through a bunch of prototypes, tested and re-tested different models and densities until we got it just right.

The result is the Lo Rox Aligned Rollers (regular and travel-sized), which are made from a moderate-density, closed-cell EVA foam. We’ve designed it to be gentle enough for self-healing massage, but also firm enough to do the Pilates-based exercises that will help you to create balanced and stronger muscles and align the entire body.

The exercises that follow will help you restore proper alignment, decrease pain, instill body awareness, improve posture and increase range of motion. (Research published in the Journal of Athletic Training in 2014 linked rolling to decreased pain levels; a 2015 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that it promoted increased flexibility.) When we roll away the built-up tension in the connective tissue, we then have a more enhanced ability to connect deeply to our core and intrinsic muscles.

To get the full benefits, I recommend doing the workout three to fives times a week—but it only takes 15 to 20 minutes! You can do it on its own or in conjunction with whatever other exercise you do, just make sure you do it first. It’s suitable for all fitness levels, but if you’re feeling any pain or discomfort, decrease your range of motion or reduce the reps.

Although you can use any medium-density roller for this routine, in my experience, the LoRox Aligned Roller is more comfortable and helps to deepen my connection to my body more than anything else I’ve tried. I think you’ll agree that it spins you right round!


Prop: medium-density roller

Purpose: reduces tension and density in the upper back while decompressing the upper thoracic vertebrae (neck); improves posture

Setup: Lie on your back, with the roller crosswise under your middle back (or, for women, the bra line), knees bent sit bone–distance apart and feet flat on the floor. Gently interlace your fingers behind your head.

1. Inhale, grounding through your feet as you roll up to the tips of your shoulder blades, allowing your hips to come off the floor.



2. Exhale, bringing your elbows together while rolling and massaging down your spine, stopping at the bottom of your rib cage.



3. Inhale, returning to the starting position. Do 8–10 reps.

Tip: Avoid rolling your lower back, since it can place too much pressure or force on your discs and vertebrae.


Prop: medium-density roller

Purpose: brings oxygenated blood and lubrication to the head, neck and shoulders; relaxes the shoulders
Setup: Lie lengthwise on the roller, so that your entire spine is supported from head to tailbone. Reach your arms out to your sides in a T shape, palms up.

1. Inhale deeply, reaching your arms overhead slowly and with control, keeping them as close to the floor as possible, your ribs “knitted” and your abdominals engaged.

2. Exhale, slightly leaning your upper body to your right and your lower body and knees to your left.


3. Inhale, returning to center, then repeat to your opposite side. Do 8 reps.



Tip: Go slow, breathing into your connective tissue.

If you’re looking for pilates in Hillsboro, Oregon, look no further than Balance Massage + Core Fitness Studio. We are a fully equipped massage and fitness practice located in downtown Hillsboro. Our core fitness studio features STOTT Pilates®, the gold standard in Pilates training, using specialized equipment. We offer 20 group fitness classes per week, including Zumba, Zenga, and Total Barre, as well as private instruction from our highly qualified team. Much of our massage practice is focused on injury recovery, relief from pain, and car accident and workers compensation rehabilitation. We also provide a variety of massage treatments purely for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Whether you enjoy the attention of one-on-one private training, or the excitement of a group fitness class, Balance Massage & Core Fitness Studio has the right training options to help you meet your fitness, physical therapy, and relaxation goals.

Balance Massage and Core Fitness Studio

233 SE Washington Street, Suite 103
Hillsboro, Oregon 97123

Phone: 503.352.9685