Walk into the mat room of any gym, and you’re bound to see foam rollers. Foam rollers are used in a myriad of ways and are incredibly beneficial for those who frequently exercise. Foam rollers help with muscle soreness, pain relief, and increased flexibility. Another use of foam rollers that many people don’t realize is that it promotes lymphatic drainage.

Lymphatic drainage is when the fluid that builds up around your fascia gets broken up, which allows for more mobility and removes waste and toxins from the body. Lymphatic drainage happens naturally when you foam roll, but many people don’t realize it. You activate your lymphatic system whenever you use a foam roller, and in doing so, it helps to relieve muscle soreness.

We’ve all heard of foam rolling before and have most likely seen it in the corner of the mat room at the gym, but actually approaching it and using the roller correctly can be intimidating. This is how you can use the foam roller to promote lymphatic drainage and improve your performance at the gym and in life overall:

Start from the bottom up

Rolling upwards on your body and towards the heart is the most beneficial way to do foam rolling. This helps effectively distribute lymph throughout the body. Start rolling from your ankles to your knees, then move up to your hip joints, and then last the upper body.

Take your time

You might be tempted to rush through foam rolling as a way to get out of the gym as soon as possible, but to get the most out of it, it’s important to take your time. Don’t rush through it and skip over important parts of your body, such as your hips, shoulders, and neck. These parts of your body get especially tight but are often neglected. Take your time rolling out your entire body, and you’ll feel the effects.

Use the right roller

There’s a whole bunch of foam rollers out there, but the best roller to promote lymphatic drainage is probably a textured one. Use a roller with bumps or patterns across it that will encourage even more drainage and help stretch the body out. You can also opt for a vibrating roller, which can help even more to relieve pain and encourage draining even further.