You know strong bones and supple muscles are key to looking and feeling younger. But don’t neglect your fascia, the seamless web of connective tissue covering your muscles, bones, and organs. "When the fascia is toned and hydrated, your joints are more flexible, and you feel fewer age-related aches," says Sue Hitzmann, an exercise physiologist in New York City, who created a system of moves for use on a foam roller, called MELT (Myofascial Energetic Length Technique). The exercises also stimulate collagen production to give you firmer skin. Do these moves and you’ll feel results right away; try them every three days for three weeks for significant improvement.
Time it takes: 10 minutes
How often: Three times a week. You can also do some or all of the moves daily or after your normal workout in addition to stretching.
Equipment: You’ll need a foam roller (MELT Roller, $31). Rollers come in various densities. Hitzmann recommends one with more give. A roller that’s too hard may make the moves painful instead of pleasurable.
Complementary workouts: Whether you run, swim, cycle, or do yoga, you’ll notice improved performance if you do these moves.
Use a slow, rolling movement often: If you feel discomfort when you’re on the roller, it’s a sign that the fascia is tight, knotted, or dehydrated. Instead of racing over a tight spot, pause there for two or three breaths until the tissue releases.
Roll from side to side: Also known as shearing, this technique mobilizes tissue layers so they open up and ease restrictions. When you hit a tight spot, position it directly on top of the roller. Hold the roller still while you move over it side to side, going back and forth over the hot spot.
Trainer TipBefore you start your workout, lie on your back for two minutes and notice how your body feels at rest: Is your body touching the floor evenly? Where are you stiff and sore? Return to this position after you finish the moves to see how your body has changed. You should feel more relaxed, flexible, and pain-free.Purchase the MELT foam roller