Foam rollers are essential. Everyone should have one, or at least have regular access to one, whatever your walk of life. Why? Because foam rollers are such inexpensive tools with massively useful application. If you’re new to foam rolling, you might not know which roller to choose, though. They come in many different materials and sizes, and it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.
Why Do You Need a Foam Roller?
Before I dive into helping you select a foam roller I want to address the main two reasons why you should be using a foam roller.
- Reduce injuries. Warming up with a foam roller, can greatly reduce the severity and likely hood of injury. A foam roller will activate the muscles and begin to pump blood through.
- Decrease recovery times. Using a foam roller after exercising will mimic a deep tissue massage. This has two benefits. Improved blood flow, which helps carry nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and the removal of toxins.
Now, there are a few different types of foam rollers and I am going to break them down below.
How do you choose a foam roller?
EPE Foam Roller - Generic EPE Foam Rollers are of a low quality, but they are relatively inexpensive. They're an excellent introductory foam roller
EVA Foam Roller - EVA Foam Rollers will last longer than an EPE Foam roller. They're slightly more expensive, but they generally last twice as long.
Rumbleroller - Rumblerollers are the most intense roller on the market. If you're new to foam rollers, stay clear. Rumble rollers can target hard to reach areas like hips and shoulders better than the competition.
Molded Foam - Molded foam rollers are relatively new. They're a better option than an EPE foam roller. They'll last longer and they have a similar price point.
Trigger Point - The best foam roller currently on the market. They're incredibly durable and the contours help to provide a better roll than the generic brands.
Muscle Stick - The muscle stick is perfect for traveling. While it's not as effective as a standard 12" foam roller it's great when you're constantly on the road.
In order to select the best foam roller for your needs ask yourself the following questions;
1) How often do you plan on using your foam roller?
I primarily do my rolling at the gym, so my EVA roller has stood the test of time. If you’re using your foam roller several times a week avoid purchasing a generic EPE foam roller or an EVA roller. Both of these will quickly elongate and begin to oval.If you plan on using a foam roller daily I would spend the money and purchase either The Grid or a Rumble Roller. I’ve used everything from The Grid, the Rumbleroller and all three types generic rollers, the Grid remains the most versatile foam roller on the market.
2) How long have you been foam rolling for?
Although it varies from person to person, if you’ve just started using a foam roller chances are it hurts like hell. If you fall under this category you can start with a standard EPE foam roller. These aren’t very dense and will start to break down scar tissue and lengthen your muscles. As your scar tissue breaks down so will your EPE foam roller at which time you can opt to upgrade to a superior foam roller such as a Rumbleroller or the Triggerpoint 2.0 Grid.
3) What area are you planning on foam rolling?
I use two rollers depending on which area I’m targeting. Nothing is better than the Rumbleroller for hit hard to reach areas such as your hip flexors or your shin muscles. The grooves can target those areas far more efficiently than any of the other options on the market place. That said, the Rumbleroller is highly ineffective for rolling large muscles, such as your IT Band, which require longer “strokes”. The reason being is that the Rumbleroller doesn’t roll as effectively due to it’s bumps, it’s easier to roll with a perfectly round roller.
This is an important question you need to ask yourself, what is your budget? Purchasing a cheap foam roller is significantly better than avoiding them all together. Foam rollers start in the $10-$15 range and as a result it’s a relatively cost effective way to experience the benefits of deep tissue massage in the comfort of your home. If you’re active and can afford to spend more you will certainly find a more expensive roller a great investment.
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