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SMARTROLLER: The Yin and Yang Approach to Foam Rollers

Amy Bowman, OPTP Staff Writer - July 17, 2019

The original “foam” rollers were created by Moshé Feldenkrais in the 1920’s and were made from the middle roll of thick cardboard that was used to wrap carpets in Israel. Now made of foam, most rollers mimic the original roller, with a cylindrical shape that comes in a variety of sizes and densities. Then there’s the SMARTROLLER® -- a uniquely designed foam roller that provides more opportunities to move more freely, with less pain and more flexibility. 
A durable “two-in-one” foam roller, the SMARTROLLER features a flat side that can provide more stability when sat on or stood on for balance-related movements, and a rounder side, which provides a more challenging, dynamic workout. The dual sides provide a yin and yang approach to foam rolling, while its lower height makes it an easy roller to mount and dismount for people of all ages. 
Designed by physical therapist Stacy Barrows, the SMARTROLLER is ideal for rehabilitation and balance training and can be used as an exercise prop for a variety of disciplines, including Yoga, Pilates and Feldenkrais. “I designed the SMARTROLLER to help people improve their sensory-motor awareness and to help facilitate higher learning,” says Barrows.  “My goal was to create a roller that anybody could use, no matter their level of fitness, while still providing the option to create more challenge for those who want it.” 
When the roller is used lengthwise with the rounder side in contact with the floor, most people find that the flatter side feels more comfortable along the spine. That’s because the less aggressive curve more closely approximates the convex shape of the torso — a shape that also eliminates overstretching of the ribs. And, because it rests closer to the floor than traditional foam rollers, you can lie on it to support the right tension in your body which will allow you to move more easily. Flipped over, with the rounder side up and the flatter side in contact with the floor, the SMARTROLLER has more of an arc. This provides added stability, which creates even more possibilities for movement and balance play.

Use the SMARTROLLER with the rounder side down for a less aggressive curve along the spine or feet. 

Use the SMARTROLLER with the flatter side down for added stability. 

To continue learning about the SMARTROLLER, and about how you can use it to help you move more freely, with less pain and more flexibility, check out Stacy Barrow’s book SMARTROLLER® Guide to Optimal Movement
Stacy Barrows, PT, DPT, GCFP, PMA®-CPT 
Stacy is a physical therapist, a registered Guild Certified Feldenkrais® practitioner, and a PMA certified Pilates teacher. She has more than 25 years of experience working as a physical therapist and is the owner of Smart Somatic Solutions, Physical Therapy, Inc. 


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Amy Bowman, OPTP Staff Writer

Amy is a Minneapolis runner, cyclist and yoga enthusiast who enjoys writing about health and wellness, physical therapy and fitness topics.

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