A foam roller is the tubular exercise accessory taking the globe by storm! Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, which is a fancy way to describe the act of massaging your own muscles to bring relief from soreness and stiffness. Now that you know why you need a foam roller, let’s take a closer look at the types of foam rollers available, as well as how to choose the right foam roller for you.
What Are Foam Rollers Made Of?
Most foam rollers are made from a very unique type of foam known as ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). This special substance is used in some extreme sports equipment to cushion impact and is much more resilient that other high-density foams. While the majority of foam rollers are dense throughout, some rollers are hollow and are lined internally with a thick layer of plastic or hard rubber for increased resistance.
Different Types of Foam Rollers
Regular Foam Rollers
These types of foam rollers are usually just under a meter in length and have a smooth surface area. Regular foam rollers are usually on the softer end of the density spectrum and are about as light as a pool noodle. This would be an ideal starting point for someone who has never tried foam rolling.
Textured Foam Rollers
A textured foam roller is similar in size, shape and density to a regular foam roller – but with one difference. Instead of a smooth surface, textured or ‘knobbled’ foam rollers feature rubber protrusions that are arranged in different combinations and patterns to micro-target muscles.
Compact Foam Rollers
Compact foam rollers come in both smooth and textured variants, and varying densities, but are a lot smaller than regular-length foam rollers. These types of foam rollers are ideal for people who like to practice foam rolling at the gym, as they are small and stout enough to fit in a gym bag.
Half-Moon Foam Rollers
Some people struggle to practise foam rolling at first due to a lack of body strength. In this case, half-moon foam rollers are recommended. These foam rollers stay in one place, allowing the user to pin-point specific sore muscle groups without having to get the rolling motion right.
Choosing the Right Foam Roller for You
The size of your foam roller will depend on whether or not you’ll be transporting it around much. Longer foam rollers are recommended for beginners but consider purchasing a short foam roller of the same texture and density should you want to use it at your gym.
Beginner foam rollers should ideally start off with a low-density foam roller, as this is not as tough on the muscles. The denser your foam roller, the deeper the massage will be, but you don’t want to go from not ever foam rolling before to a full-on deep-tissue massage. This could cause injury and place a damper on your new and exciting foam-rolling journey.
Finally, you’ll want to consider the texture of your foam roller carefully. Knobbly foam rollers aren’t recommended for beginners but are great for working out knots in a targeted manner. Smooth foam rollers are recommended for beginners, but even when you’re a seasoned foam roller you’ll still more than likely use your smooth roller on the odd occasion.
Foam rolling is a great way for you to work out stiffness and soreness in your muscles. Using a foam roller works well as a warm-up to your exercise routine as it functions to loosen up your muscles and makes them ready to work!