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You’re On a Roll! The Health Benefits of Foam Rollers

Myofascia. This little-known anatomical term has been getting a lot of buzz lately in fitness circles, so we've decided it's about time to add it to our vocabulary.

Myofascia is the intricate network of very dense, strong tissue that connects and supports our muscles. As we age, this network weakens, which can lead to stiffness, muscle pain, and joint pain. Stretching targets the muscles, not the myofascia, so when stretching just isn't helping your knots and sore spots, a self-myofascial massage just might do the trick.

Self-myofascial massage involves using your body weight and a foam roller or tennis ball to deeply massage your body's connective tissue. Integrating this type of massage into your workout routine will help you relieve tense spots, boost circulation and oxygen delivery to the muscles, and even speed recovery after workouts and injuries. It gives you similar benefits as a sports massage or deep-tissue massage – without the massive price tag.

How to do it? You can get started by picking up a foam roller by Gaiam – a DVD on how to roll out the entire body comes with it. Or simply grab a tennis ball from the garage, find a how-to video online, and just roll with it!

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