We mentioned last week how foam rollers can help you self-massage tight and painful lower back muscles, and how they can help make a chiropractic visit more effective (here’s that post).
We’ve also talked about WHY foam rolling is awesome back in September.
This week we want to talk specifics: Which foam roller to use, a little advice on which one to buy (if you want one at home), and some specific movement/exercises to do with your foam roller.
First off, there are three main things to take into consideration when deciding which foam roller to use or buy:
Density: Rule of thumb for foam rollers is- start with the soft ones. Firm foam rollers are usually best suited for the more experienced users. Trying to use too dense a foam roller right off the bat isn’t going to be very comfortable, and foam rolling is supposed to feel good. Once you’ve learned some moves and figured out exactly how you prefer to use the tool- then you can venture into the world of firm foam rollers. Softer foam rollers will eventually become compressed and wear out- needing replaced. More dense foam rollers won’t need replaced as often.
Texture: Again, don’t get too fancy right away. A basic, soft foam roller is best for beginners. Most textured foam rollers are often harder/more dense than the basic massage foam roller. The knobs and ridges on more advanced foam rollers are meant to mimic the movement made by a massage therapist, but used incorrectly can cause bruising/discomfort. A basic, smooth foam roller will apply pressure to the entire area for the length of the movement- the knobby foam rollers will direct and vary that pressure at specific areas.
Length: The longer the foam roller the more options you have for how to use it. Short foam rollers may take up less space and work if you’re only trying to massage one area (like a hamstring or shoulder), but the longer foam rollers allow you to massage your entire back or body. Trying laying with the (soft) roll directly under your spine and gently rolling back and forth (side to side) for a super comfortable and relaxing stretch!
Foam rollers are used extensively in the Alloy Group Training and in Pilates classes here at CBRC. Our Certified Personal Trainers also help members learn how to use these tools in individual workout routines.
For some tips on how to use your foam roller, see the following examples from our Certified Personal Trainers:
We wish you good health,
Columbia Basin Racquet Club