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People use foam rollers for self-myofascial therapy. Some of the reported benefits of foam rolling include aiding recovery, improving range of motion, and preventing injury.
Exercises that use a foam roller may also improve core stability. Experts still need to confirm the benefits of using a foam roller, however.
People can choose between different types of foam rollers. Some have a smooth texture, whereas others have a textured surface. Foam rollers may also differ in density and size. Each provides different intensities of self-myofascial therapy.
Keep reading to learn more about how foam rollers work and for details on some of the top foam rollers available for purchase.
Foam rollers consist of a solid foam cylinder. Each foam roller has a different degree of density and size. To use a foam roller, people roll their body weight over the affected muscle area. This helps loosen tight areas of a muscle.
Another possible effect of foam rolling is an improvement in the hydration of the muscle and surrounding tissues. Experts suggest that squeezing the soft tissue, like a sponge, soaks the tissue in fluid. The fluid surrounding the muscle improves the motion between the different layers of connective tissue.
Researchers have not yet confirmed the benefits of foam rolling on training effects. The available studies on the effects of self-myofascial therapy focus on the short-term benefits.
A study in the journal Frontiers in Physiology tested the benefits of foam rolling as a warmup activity and a recovery strategy. Overall, the researchers conclude that the effects on performance and recovery were minor and partly negligible.
In some situations, foam rolling increased sprint performance and flexibility and reduced the sensation of muscle pain. However, the study also found that foam rolling may be a better warmup activity than a recovery tool.
A person must tighten their core to maintain stability and balance due to the unstable surface of the foam roller. Researchers may assume that certain people notice improved core stability, power, and balance with regular use of a foam roller.
Currently, experts have not agreed on an optimal foam roll program describing the duration, pressure, and roll rhythm necessary to improve recovery and range of motion.
To confirm the benefits of foam rolling, researchers need to conduct high quality experiments. High quality studies require larger populations that evaluate the effect of specific programs and assess the same outcomes.
Foam rollers available on the market have different characteristics.
Each feature has a different function, and people should learn about these differences before selecting the best foam roller for their needs.
There are a variety of shapes and types of foam rollers, including:
- Cylinders: These may be useful for larger areas of muscle, including the thighs.
- Half-round: A person can use either the flat or rounded side, depending on their needs.
- Balls: These may be useful for smaller areas of the muscles, such as the arch of the foot or between the shoulder blades.
Another factor to consider is the density:
- Standard density: These rollers have a medium firmness, which may help with deep massage and exercise while providing some cushioning.
- Soft density: These rollers are softer. Those who want a higher level of comfort as opposed to a deep massage may choose this standard of density.
- Firm density: These may be more suitable for those looking for a deeper and more intense massaging effect.
Foam rollers can come in a variety of textures. Some may be smooth, while others have ridges or small spikes.
Ridges and spikes may help provide a deeper massage on tight muscles.
Smaller, textured foam rollers provide deeper tissue compression.
On the other hand, longer foam rollers may be more appropriate for larger muscle areas, such as the back. They also provide more stability when people foam roll their leg muscles.
People may find better precision with a small foam ball roller.
Another option includes a muscle roller stick. The difference between these and foam rollers is the way a person applies pressure.
Foam rollers use a person’s body weight, whereas muscle roller sticks rely on a person’s hands to apply the pressure.
Muscle roller sticks also come in a variety of sizes and textures.
The sections below will look at some specific options in more detail.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented here is purely research-based.
AmazonBasics do not focus on fitness or medical products. They are a private label developed by Amazon that manufacture different products, including household, home improvement, and office items.
AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller
The AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller is 6 inches (in) in diameter and measures 12, 18, or 36 in in length. According to AmazonBasics, this foam roller consists of high density molded polypropylene.
People can use this foam roller for the following purposes:
It maintains its shape with moderate-to-heavy use. It is a suitable foam roller for people with different body types.
Gaiam are a lifestyle brand who provide different yoga and fitness products. Some of the available product categories include yoga mats, yoga gear, and fitness equipment. Gaiam also manufacture fitness, yoga, and lounge apparel.
Their range of recovery tools includes foam rollers and massagers for areas such as the:
Gaiam Restore Total Body Foam Roller
The Gaiam Restore Total Body Foam Roller is 36 in in length and 6 in in diameter. This size is ideal for working the entire body. According to Gaiam, this foam roller loosens and soothes tight and sore muscles.
People can use this foam roller to stretch, align, and massage the body. Balance training is another potential benefit of using this product.
TriggerPoint provide different at-home massage therapy tools that empower people to move and feel better. The company design products that mimic the touch of a massage therapist for people of all ages, sizes, and athletic abilities.
TriggerPoint Core Multi-Density Solid Foam Roller
The TriggerPoint Core Multi-Density Solid Foam Roller contains an ethylene-vinyl acetate foam with a patented GRID pattern.
According to TriggerPoint, the multidensity GRID pattern provides compression to the affected muscles that is ideal for self-massage, pain relief, and improved flexibility.
The foam roller comes in three different sizes:
- 4 in by 12 in
- 5.5 in by 18 in
- 5.5 in by 36 in
This foam roller has a 325-pound weight limit.
ProSourceFit focus on manufacturing affordable and professionally sourced fitness products that any person can use to improve their health.
They sell products in the following five fitness gear categories:
- yoga and Pilates
- strength and weight training
- recovery and mobility
- agility and performance
- resistance tubes and bands
ProSourceFit High Density Speckled Foam Roller
The ProSourceFit High Density Speckled Foam Roller is 6 in in diameter and measures either 12, 18, 24, or 36 in long. This foam roller contains an eco-friendly, high density expanded polypropylene.
According to ProSourceFit, this foam roller reduces back pain, leg cramps, and muscle tension. People can use this product for self-myofascial release, stretching, and Pilates exercises.
Foam rolling is a popular method for recovering after exercise. Researchers have not confirmed the reported benefits of foam rolling, however.
Some people report that foam rolling can accelerate recovery, strengthen core muscles, improve flexibility, boost balance, expand range of motion, and prevent injuries.
Different types of foam rollers exist, and the best product depends on a person’s individual needs. Some foam rollers are smooth, whereas others have a textured surface that provides a deeper and more intense sensation.