If you’ve decided to start foam rolling because of its many benefits, the next step is to pick a foam roller. Choosing the right foam roller may seem incredibly daunting because of the many on the market. But it does not have to be hard. Finding the perfect foam roller for your body and needs can be relatively simple.
This information will help you select the best foam roller that suits not only your needs, but your budget as well. For each foam roller, there is a different foam intensity, size and surface texture. To choose the right foam roller, first determine what you want to use it for. Some points to consider are durability, cost, resistance, training style and precision. After you’ve considered these points, follow the information based in this article.
Best foam rollers are a versatile, relatively affordable pieces of exercise equipment that help to massage various parts of the body in addition to helping to build muscle. A foam roller is cylinder-shaped and usually made from different types of foam with different types of densities. The size and texture of foam rollers can vary based on the needs of the user.
When using a foam roller, the user lays on the floor with the roller underneath the desired working area. For example, if the person wants to massage any knots out of his back, he will lay with the roller under a certain area of his back. Using the roller, the user pushes back and forth on the floor to allow the roller to massage knots out of his back.
How are foam rollers good for massage and healing muscles?
Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, allows a person to target certain trigger points or tight muscles in the body. When pressure is applied to certain parts of the body, muscles typically recover faster and return to normal function faster.
Tight muscles often have trigger points, also known as knots. Many factors can cause knots including flexibility, nutrition, rest, hydration, stress, training and movement patterns. Our bodies are remarkable machines in that they are good at curing themselves. However, they sometimes need help to recover from intense lifestyle factors that are often thrown at them.
Trigger points are easily identified because they are often painful when touched. Massage, specifically deep tissue massage, is typically the ideal way to relieve these knots. However, many people do not have the convenience, time or money to have a masseuse on hand. Using a foam roller helps to allow someone to work out his own knots for pain relief. Self-myofascial release is beneficial because it gives the user better control over the pressure and the location. When you can feel exactly what is happening in your body and can control the pressure applied, the deep tissue massage can be less painful and more relaxing.
Releasing knots allows the body to reestablish pain free movement and proper movement patterns. This, in turn, enhances performance. Stretching alone is often not enough to rid the body of knots and muscle tightness. Foam rolling helps to relax tight muscles and break up adhesions. Compression from foam rollers allows blood flow to return allowing the restoration of healthy tissue. It also prevents injury.
So how do I get started with foam rolling?
First, identify the areas of the body that need foam rolling. This is called screening or self-exploration. With this method, specific muscles and areas are targeted relating to specific movements.
To properly use a foam roller for self-exploration, moderately apply pressure to a muscle group or specific area of the body using bodyweight. Roll slowly and do not go faster that one inch per second. When tight or painful areas are discovered, pause for a few seconds and try to relax. The muscle will start to release and after a few seconds, the pain will decrease. If it is too painful to apply pressure to a specific area, move the roller to a surrounding area and slowly work to loosen the surrounding muscles. Never roll a bone or joint and avoid rolling the lower back. To loosen lower back muscles, use a lacrosse or tennis ball.
When using a foam roller, finding the correct pressure is crucial. Basically, you should avoid causing yourself pain. When controlling the amount of pressure being applied to an area, ensure that you are only experiencing a mild to tolerable amount of discomfort. The main goal with rolling is to help the area relax. If you’re in too much pain, you will not be able to relax appropriately.
For beginners, it is important to start out slowly with a short session and light pressure. Eventually, you will be able to progress to more intense pressure for relaxation. Foam rolling can be done before and after workout sessions. However, pre-workout sessions should focus on problem areas. With post-workout sessions, focus on all muscle groups that were exercised that day.
What else can I do with a foam roller?
Foam rollers can be used for more than massage. It can be an effective tool for building strength and stability. The size and shape of a foam roller adds a challenging twist to certain exercises that can effectively exercise muscles that are not commonly used.
A plank can be done on a roller to improve the strength of glutes, shoulders, abdominals and back. Pushups can also be done to add intensity to this otherwise normal exercise move. A foam roller can also be used to increase the intensity of a wall squat. Of course, there are a myriad of other possibilities when it comes to using foam rollers for exercise. Just be mindful of the correct form to avoid injuring yourself.
So, should you invest in a foam roller?
Some experts believe that every person should invest in a foam roller. While there are some expensive foam rollers, the vast majorities are very affordable. Of course, it is your decision if you get one, but they do carry a lot of bang for their buck. So many people have used them to release muscle knots, improve posture, improve blood flow and become stronger. Considering all their benefits and the ease of use, they can be a powerful addition to anyone’s daily exercise and relaxation routine.
The different types of foam intensities
Different foam intensities determine the firmness of the foam roller. Many rollers are categorized based on color that corresponds to the type of foam and firmness. White foam rollers are geared towards beginners because of their softness. Often made from polyethylene foam, they are less dense and will allow for movement between bones, muscles and the foam roller. Because rolling has the possibility of being painful for beginners, this will make the experience less painful.
For those looking to improve core balance or are looking for a medium massage intensity, green or blue rollers are the best bet. These provide a relatively intense massage but at the same time, are softer on muscles than the firm foam rollers. They are typically composed of EVA foam or polyethelene foam. These medium-intensity foam rollers are great for other purposes as well, such as using them for pilates.
Black foam rollers provide a hard, intense massage. They are composed from polyethelene foam, but are manufactured with high heat and closed-cell which makes them dense, smoother and aren’t as porous as other rollers. Black foam rollers are ideal for constant use because of their durability. Rollers composed of less dense foam may warp in time with repeated use or even humidity. If you would like a softer white roller, make sure to look for one that has a no-warp guarantee.
The different sizes of foam rollers
The majority of foam rollers are six inches in diameter. While that diameter is common, the lengths of the rollers vary from four to 12-36 inches. Each length offers a variety of different benefits. Small foam rollers are great for precise massaging and targeting certain areas. These small rollers are perfect for traveling because of their size and portability. Small foam rollers vary in size and can range from four inches to 12 inches long.
Another size of foam rollers is a medium size, and they are around 18 inches long. These are perfect for those who want a bigger massage area yet still like more portability. The bigger area size gives you more flexibility with workouts yet still is perfect for taking to the gym.
Many beginners choose to purchase the larger sizes of foam rollers, generally up to 36 inches. This larger size is recommended for use on the back because it allows for larger access area and stability. Rollers 36 inches long can be used for balance therapy and soft tissue therapy. This size will also allow you to use the roller on smaller areas of the body, like calf muscles. While it is a versatile size, it does not transport or travel well.
The different types of textures
As foam rollers have become more prevalent, so have different textures of rollers. There are currently a variety of textures on the market with each texture offering a specific purpose and benefit.
The most inexpensive and common foam rollers are made from EVA/EPE molded foam. Because they provide a smooth, round surface for less intense rolling, they are a perfect for beginners. Because they are inexpensive and made from molded foam, they do wear out after use.
Other foam rollers have bumps and ridges to provide more intense rolling. Some, like Rumble Rollers, have square grooves designed to feel more like a massage. Others have round bumps designed to work out knots. These types of foam rollers offer an intense, deep tissue massage and are not recommended for beginners.
For those looking for a foam roller with texture but do not want something intense, there are grid foam rollers. They offer a medium texture and intensity. Some areas of the grid are larger than others. This allows you to target small and large areas at the same time.
The different costs of foam rollers
To choose the correct foam roller for you, identify your budget. There is a wide variety of foam rollers based on cost, from cheap to expensive. A standard black foam roller that is 6 by 36 inches costs around $20-$30 dollars. This is often the most common chosen by beginners. A 12 inch white roller typically costs about $15. Textured and grid rollers are more expensive, sometimes costing up to a few hundred dollars.
When it comes down to it, don’t be afraid to shop around. If you are a member of a gym, try out the various rollers available to see what works for your body. There are many brick and mortar stores and online shops selling a wide variety of foam rollers. With this information and a little shopping, it will be easy to find a roller that will easily suit your needs.