Girl Smarts The truth about whether foam rolling can get rid of your cellulite

Cellulite is the product of subcutaneous fat pushing out below the connective fibrous bands of your skin’s top layer.

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Like any Mean Girls-esque movie has shown us, when someone (or something) rises in popularity, the rumors follow.

The foam roller is no exception: As the recovery tool has made its way from PT clinics to mainstream gyms, it has gathered its own trail of gossip. The most butchered claim? That foam rolling can make cellulite vanish.

It’s tough to know the exact origins of the roll-away-your-cellulite trend, but sad news: Foam rolling can’t get rid of those annoying puckers. That said, it’s possible that foam rolling consistently and for long periods of time could help minimize the appearance of cellulite in the short term, as in only for that same day.

Cellulite is the product of subcutaneous fat pushing out below the connective fibrous bands of your skin’s top layer.

Think of a button on a velvet cushion—the tugging creates the bulges. Going over it with a roller back and forth for 30 minutes might flatten the quadrants for a bit, but eventually, they’ll puff back up. The problem is, you’d have to roll and roll and roll to really see any change. And even then it'd be minimal. The only way to truly eliminate cellulite is to break down those bands through a somewhat invasive procedure, like Cellfina or Cellulaze, which actually snip the bands.

“Like a massage, foam rolling does increase blood flow, and an increase in blood flow plumps up skin,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., a dermatologist in Connecticut. “But unless you’re foam rolling for the length of a massage, say 60 minutes or more—which seems unrealistic—I can’t imagine you’d see much of a difference.”

In fact, a recent study published in Dermatology Research and Practice found that lymphatic massage—which is pretty similar to foam rolling—reduced cellulite in patients after 10 sessions over a course of two weeks. But—and big but here—the sessions lasted four hours per day.

The best way to reduce cellulite without an actual in-office intervention is to reduce body fat via exercise, though even super-lean women can have cellulite (truth: it’s genetic, and an estimated 90 percent of us have it). “Fat is stored energy in the body and energy must be expended to be removed from the body,” says Pete McCall, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and certified personal trainer.

Even on days when you can’t fit in a workout, make a point to move around for a few minutes every hour. Those little bursts of movement will help your body maintain levels of lipo-protein lipase, an enzyme that helps convert fat into energy during physical activity, so you can metabolize that fat like a beast.

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