Many of my students know I am am a fan of foam rollers. They offer an affordable way to massage yourself at home regularly.
What is a foam roller?
A foam roller in the traditional sense is a roll of foam. You roll your body on it to massage your muscles and fascia. When you find a tight spot you can either hold for 30 seconds to a minute or you can friction gently moving from side to side. They are a great compliment to a yoga practice.
I have 3 foam rollers, a quadballer, a tennis ball and two recently purchased rumble roller balls. This is a real massage arsenal which I use almost every day for 5 -15 minutes. I use them on different areas of the body depending on where needs work. At the moment I have been doing a lot of long distance cycling and the foam roller has been a godsend for my quadriceps after a long hilly ride.
The humble foam roller
This is a traditional foam roller and was my first foam roller. The benefits of this foam roller are that it is cheaper and less hard, so good if you have a lot of tightness and don’t like your massage too deep. They are usually quite long which doesn’t make them a good travel option. You can now buy smaller ones. For massage purposes I think the larger size is unnecessary but the larger foam roller makes a good prop for some stretches. Another thing to consider when buying a foam roller like this is that they will eventually loose their density, usually in the middle and then loose their effectiveness and need to be replaced.
The grid is my middle of the road roller, it is firmer than the traditional foam roller and has grid-like grooves to get in a little deeper. I use it almost every day. I find it great to use to check in and see what areas are tight. After a 50 mile bike ride, the thought of using the rumble roller, (see below) on my quads makes me want to run for the hills, so I usually use this first. If they are really tight then I will use this for a couple days first. The grid is small and hallow so is great for travel, you can just put some things inside it.
The rumble roller
This as far as I know is the big daddy of foam rollers and it looks like it! The rumble roller comes in two densities blue and black. This black one is the firmest one. I bought it because it was introduced to me by one of my students, Tony, and I discovered that I could get into areas that I knew to be tight but couldn’t be released by the grid anymore. The spikes aren’t sharp. They go into you like the the fingers of a masseur would. It can be intense but as with any of the foam rollers you can control how deep you go by how much weight you put on it. I have had excellent results with the rumble roller. I use it daily in combination with the grid. If I had to have only one foam roller I would personally choose this one. On my current trip to London to see my yoga teacher the rumble roller was one of the first things packed.
Not exactly a foam roller this is made by the same company as the grid and designed for the quads. It’s shape and density means it goes deeper than a foam roller however I now prefer the rumble roller and rarely use it.
The humble tennis ball
Want to start doing some self massage but not sure? The tennis ball is cheap and is great for getting into small specific points like the hips. A fantastic tool.
The rumble roller balls
These are made by the same company as the rumble roller and similarly mean business! I have been discussing buying them for a while but the expense held me back. One of my students bought one this week and I got to have a go. The massage release was fantastic, it gets in really deep. I bought both balls (two different densities) as I found the green ball a bit hard at first. I love the balls in the same way as I love the rumble roller it gets in deeper than my tennis ball into smaller specific areas.