Foam rollers have become a very popular piece of home and gym based exercises equipment. Physiotherapists and trainers recommend them for myofascial release techniques, stretching exercises as well as core strengthening. See below for our foam roller buying guide.
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A foam roller is a cylindrical piece of polyethylene or EVA foam which can be used in injury rehabilitation and strength and conditioning training. They are most commonly use for a form of treatment called self-myofascial release which is a type of massage. The foam roller is placed under a body part (often the thighs, calves, buttocks and back) and the user rolls their weight along the length of the roller. This works to stretch out the fascia surrounding our muscles and release knots or trigger points.
Foam rollers can also be used in strengthening and balance exercises, usually for injury rehabilitation purposes. Foam rollers come in differing sizes, shapes and colours and so it can be tricky to know which one is most suitable for your needs. Here are some tips to help you pick the right one for you!
If you are using it for massage then you need a cylindrical one. If you are using it for balance exercises, a semi-cylinder, known as a half foam roller may be better suited. Many balance exercises involve standing on the flat side, using the road side to challenge your balance.
If you are new to foam roller massage, or have extremely tight muscles or a condition such as Fibromyalgia, a softer foam roller may be better for you. These are often white and made from polyethylene. The average user will benefit from a blue or green foam roller which tend to be medium density and made of closed cell polyethelene foam or EVA foam. Advanced users may require a harder foam roller. Black ones tend to also be made of a polyethelene foam, but are manufacturer under very high heats which makes then less porous and more dense.
The more you use a foam roller, the higher the chance of it warping out of shape, especially when placing all of your body weight on it. Denser ones are more long lasting, but if you want a softer one to be long-lasting, make sure you buy from a brand which guarantees not to warp!
Most foam rollers have a diameter of 6”, although you can also get wider ones. For some uses the diameter (or width) will make no difference. But for balance exercises, a bigger diameter will make the exercises very hard! Foam rollers vary in length from 12-36”. Shorter ones are more portable for taking to yoga classes etc, whereas longer ones are more versatile for certain exercises, especially when lying on the roller.
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