Review: Foam Rolling: 50 Exercises for Massage, Injury Prevention, and Core Strength

Reviewer: Miss Cai

It is no thanks to all the crazy, daring stunts I did in my successful decade plus as an illusionist/ escape artist, that has caused me much body aches now. In fact, I go to a good physio every week to help with the slipped disc I have in my neck from all those years of thinking I’m unstoppable.

I’m not a bird… not a plane… and most definitely not Superman!

So in my years of playing my stage alter ego ‘Magic Babe’ Ning, I learn that women are not compressible and contorting one’s body into awkward positions inside small boxes isn’t good in the long run.

Oh, and the occasional work injury that results in you landing with your entire body weight on your neck when you’re upside down, or rushing to the ER at midnight because of another rehearsal gone wrong… doesn’t work out well for your body too.

That’s why my physio, Dr Martin John, recommended I try using a foam roller to help work out the soreness and tight spots in my muscles. He taught me a simple exercise (shown exactly in the book below) to complement the on-going sessions I was having at his clinic with fellow UK osteopath, Lewis Clarke.


Me, my book and my foam roller…

Coming back to the book review of Karina Inkster’s book, Foam Rolling: 50 Exercises for Massage, Injury Prevention and Core Strength, I must say I was very pleasantly surprised by this gem of a book!

The author herself is a fitness coach with a masters degree in gerontology, specializing in health and aging. In fact, she’s also the model in the book. The pictures are clear and well taken, and one thing I’m thankful for is the good quality paper the book is printed on. This book will be sure to last a very long time, which is great because you’d definitely flip it constantly for reference and use!

I found the 170-page book a very educational read. Inkster provides very good explanations, along with various easy to follow routines; basically exercises for almost every part of the body. One thing I found useful was the well done introduction of the book… there was no quick skipping through. Instead, she takes the time to explain what foam rolling is, and the different types of rollers available, and how to use them accordingly.

Can you believe this woman is vegan? 😉 Respect!

Inkster also talks about “fascia”, which is a subject I commonly discuss with my physios. It’s quite recent that medical researchers have realized fascia is more important that they’d previously thought (more weight was given the muscle and bone), so I appreciated the fact that the information in this book was very up-to-date.

You don’t need to be a medical student to read the book; it’s meant for us laymen. But Inkster did do her “homework” so to speak, and some latin/ medical jargon is included in there with brief explanations of anatomy related to the IT Band. She also has a chapter about complimentary practices for muscle recovery and how to get enough sleep.

The other 2/3 of the book consists of various foam roller exercises, using various types of rollers (GRID roller, half roller, high density full roller-which I personally use everyday- etc.) with some including working with light weights. Every exercise is complemented with full colour photos, with Inkster herself demonstrating the move, next to the written descriptions.

To increase my flexibility and mobility, I do the chest exercise (p.57) twice a day, once in the morning when I wake up and just before I go to bed at night, which help relax my tight pectoral muscles.

Self-myofascial release is also taught in the book, which is another favourite of mine because it helps to ease those tight muscle “knots”. If you’re gunning for strength and core stability, Inkster also shows you how in her book. Also, if you’re familiar with yoga, you may enjoy how she creatively works some Asanas in with the foam roller, e.g. Camel Pose (Ustrasana).

In all, if you (like me) own a foam roller and are looking for a wider variety of exercises you can get out of it, Inkster’s book comes highly recommended 🙂 Likewise, if you’ve always been keen in trying out foam rolling or self massage, I’d advise you check out this excellent book and then decide which foam roller you’d like to invest in.

Two thumbs up!

Two thumbs up!


Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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