Foam Rolling: learn how it works then choose the right one

Ah…Foam rollers…

Those cylindrical objects lying in the corner of every gym…

Now making an appearance in our homes…

And don’t forget the fitness section of TK Max…

So obviously, more and more people are doing it as part of their mobility work in between workouts. Are you foam rolling?

A quick guide to foam rolling

Foam rollers are, in essence, a cheap massage.  The roller needs to replicate the work of a massage therapist by breaking up adhesions, improving circulation and stimulating nerve endings.  After foam rolling your hamstrings for instance, you should feel that they have become a lot more flexible and lengthened.

Some foam rollers are smooth and, to be fair, these will perform an adequate job.

The more premium ones are gridded like the Trigger Point Grid.  This makes the roller a lot more effective at breaking up scar tissue whilst maintaining a smooth roll.  The material is high-quality EVA which is soft-enough to compress but still constructed well enough for the material to bounce back so that it maintains contact with the muscle.

 

A slightly cheaper alternative is a copycat one from Protect My Body.  A bargain at £12.99

 

If you prefer a smoother roller go for the OPTP pro roller as it is made of cross-linked PE which is soft but maintains some springiness and keeps moisture out.

Should you go firm?

Probably not unless you have already gone down that path of opting for firmness.  The idea that “If it doesn’t hurt it doesn’t work” is a fallacy.

Likewise, nodules like those found on Rumble Rollers may be counter-productive as they will not roll smoothly and may cause involuntary muscle contractions which is the last thing you’d want on a proper massage so why when foam rolling?

Keep the habit

It is vital you are in the habit of regular rolling.  Equally vital is that you are stretching straight after and maybe doing a few dynamic movements like star jumps or jog-on-the-spot to solidify everything.  You can be watching the telly at night and doing this so there is little excuse.

On your travels

Some great travel options are available but the simplest one is the Trigger Point Ball.  It’s great to whip it out after a race whilst recovering from your hard work.

So now you know self-inflicted pain is not the objective,

Happy Rolling

Here’s a nice guide to foam rolling for your runs