We’ve all heard how stress can be dangerous for our health. We have also learned from countless experts how a good massage can be a wonderful and terrific solution for stress relief.
However, actually getting a massage from a professional masseur on a regular basis can be a bit impractical. It can be an expensive process, and you can’t just get a message the minute you need it. But then that’s why you get a foam roller.
A foam roller is a device that lets you do the proper massage on yourself. They come with special features that can really free your muscles. It’s possible that the benefits you’ll enjoy can include a greater range of motion, better blood flow, and even a shortened recovery time.
Of course, you do need to make sure you know how to use one properly. In addition, you have to get the right model that suits your needs. To buy the right foam roller, you have to pay considerable attention to certain crucial factors.
The hardness or softness of the foam roller can determine just how effective it will be in providing the deep-tissue massage you need. If it’s too hard, using it will be an exercise full of traumatic pain and bruising and your health may even get worse. If it’s too soft, it’s pretty much useless in massaging your tissues and muscles.
If you’re a newbie to foam rollers in general, you err on the side of caution by getting something that’s a bit soft to begin with. At least if it’s not right for you it just won’t work. When you get something that’s too hard right away, you’ll experience so much pain that you may end up swearing off foam rollers altogether.
That soft, low-density foam roller is perfect as long as you don’t feel any pain. Even if it’s not really doing much for your muscles, at least you get to practice your foam roller technique without the accompanying trauma.
Of course, as time passes and your muscles adapt to the roller you’re using, you have to switch to a denser, harder foam roller. You may not have a choice but to switch anyway since soft foam rollers are notoriously apt to deform very quickly. As you switch to harder foam rollers, you’ll find that they have a greater effect on your muscles, while the hard foam roller also lasts much longer.
Some brands come in different colors to denote the density of the particular foam roller models. The soft ones are typically white, while the hardest ones are black. So the darker the color, the denser it is.
While some foam rollers are smooth, others have specially designed surfaces with various protruding knobs and ridges. These are meant to offer different levels of intensity or to focus more on certain muscles.
With a smooth roller, you get even pressure from the whole length of the roller. This is a great choice for foam roller newbies, as in general, the pressure you get isn’t as intense as from a textured roller. That saves you from the pain that can result when your muscles aren’t used to the specialized ridges and knobs. Besides, smooth rollers are typically more affordable, and that’s just sensible for newbies.
On the other hand, the ridges and knobs on a textured roller can imitate how a real masseur can use their hands to target the knots in your muscles and tissues. It’s more realistic, though of course the chances of getting a painful massage increase. However, there are several types of textures so that you can get precisely the right intensity that suits your preference tolerance of pressure.
Size and Shape
While foam rollers are generally designed with a cylindrical shape, there’s really no standard shape or size for them. It can be as long as a sword or small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. They can be in various diameters as well. In fact, some aren’t shaped like a cylinder at all.
Here’s a quick guide to the various shapes and sizes:
- If you’re new to foam rollers, you’re better off with a long one that measures about 3 feet long. They’re easier to control when you’re targeting your hamstrings and quads, and the length is just right to work your whole back. For smaller areas like your calves and arms, the optimal length is about 2 feet. Small ones that measure less than a foot in length are good if you want a portable model.
- The most common diameter is about 5 to 6 inches, which is just right for most people. If you want a more focused message that goes deeper and harder, you’ll need a smaller diameter of about 4 or even 3 inches.
- Half-round. This resembles a standard foam roller that’s been lengthwise. They’re designed for foot and leg stretches. They’re also great if you have plantar fasciitis using this will relieve the symptoms.
- Foam-covered massage sticks. They look like rolling pins, and they’re best when you want to focus on your legs. They’re much more precise in targeting specific muscles and in regulating the pressure. They can also be flexible enough to use for massaging your upper back.
- Foam balls. Aside from portability, one great reason to get this is for body areas that are curved. They’re much more precise than regular foam rollers for areas like the lumbar area.
With this guide, hopefully, you’re able to find one that suits your message needs perfectly. However, you must make sure that you actually know how to use one correctly.
It’s just like driving a car—the best cars in the world are dangerous for those who don’t actually know how to drive a car. The same goes for foam rollers. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can hurt yourself instead. So start with a long smooth-surfaced roller if you’re a newbie, and then master its use before you go on with the more sophisticated designs.
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