The art of true living in this world is more like a wrestler’s than a dancer’s practice.Marcus Aurelius
Few other fitness tools had the growth in terms of popularity, like the foam roller. As a result, many people (myself included) incorporated its use daily. Using it in exercises that help improve posture, mobility, pre or post-workout, the foam roller became a must-have item to me and many others.
So what is the best foam roller for beginners? We answer all your questions and clarify all your doubts with our foam roller ultimate guide! We will explain to you the different types of foam rollers available on the market, their specificities, and attending to your needs which one might fit you better.
Without any further ado, let’s dig in on the sauce.
What Is A Foam Roller?
So what is exactly a foam roller? Well, according to Wikipedia, “a foam roller is a lightweight, cylindrical tube of compressed foam. It may be used for many reasons, including increasing flexibility, reducing soreness, and eliminating muscle knots. In addition, foam rolling is a method of self-myofascial release.“
Although I’m aware that we have to take information on Wikipedia with a pinch of salt, I agree with their definition; moreover, if you want some additional information of some studies concerning the foam roller’s effectiveness, you can check here and here some studies that will enlighten you on the matter.
Is Suitable to Whom?
Although there are special conditions, ailments, and injuries that can limit or even disable you from using a foam roller (which, by the way, if that’s your case or you think it might be, I urge you to consult a professional before making any decision regarding acquiring a foam roller), the reality is that pretty much everyone can and should use a foam roller on their daily physical activities, since the benefit of it can be tremendously huge, as already referred.
Another reason for everyone use a foam roller in their physical activities is the fact that despite everyone preferring a good massage over a foam roller; the reality is that not everyone can afford so frequently massages in the same way they can afford the foam roller’s use, with the main reasons being budget or lack of time.
How To Use A Foam Roller
Foam rollers are designed to be used in big muscles like the calf, quad, glutes, and erector spinae down. On the other hand, it’s a terrible idea to use a foam roller on your lower back because, unlike the upper back that is protected by the disc blades and other muscles, your lower back doesn’t have the same protection; hence, using a foam roller on your lower back can lead to severe injuries.
As the name suggests, the main movement you’ll be doing is rolling, though it’s important to do it at a relatively slow past (1inch or 2.5cm per second), which will allow your muscles to adapt to the pressure while relaxing.
The last piece of advice I want to give you concerning using a foam roller is to don’t replace all your static stretches; instead, try to blend in both static stretches with foam roller stretches as you will have better results.
What Is The Best Foam Roller For Beginners?
To know what is the best foam roller for beginners, we need to look at the different types available on the market. To help you understand better the different types, I will explain to you the three major factors to consider when you decide to buy a foam roller.
The size – I’ll start with the size because it’s the easiest thing to evaluate, in my opinion. So basically there’s four sizes: 12inch (30.5cm), 18inch (45.7cm), 24inch (61cm), 32inch (81.3cm).
Although the length of your foam roller can limit or give you more options in terms of the exercises you can do, they exist mainly due to the different bodies, weights, and workout space we all have, so except if you are tall as a pine, I don’t think you will need a 32inches (81.3cm) foam roller.
The density – You have three types of density (low, medium, and high density), and by density, I mean how hard their surface is.
Low-density foam rollers are very soft, and the pressure and friction on the muscles are very low. However, I’m not too fond of low-density foam rollers as they lose their structure after a couple of weeks in some cases. Also, after using it a couple of times, you might start to feel the need to change for a higher density roller, meaning more money invested.
Medium-density rollers can give you a better experience than a low-density foam roller, and in case you are not sure how your body will react to the foam roller’s hardness, it might be a good option.
High-density rollers have the hardest surface. Ideal if you are looking for a good myofascial release or use it in some static exercise. If you do sport regularly and can endure some initial discomfort, this is the wisest choice to make in terms of density.
Surface – You have three types of surface, they’re the following: soft/smooth surface, trigger/knotted surface, and vibrating surface.
Soft or smooth surface foam rollers are the most common and recommended if you are starting to use one. They offer you a good massage while not putting too much pressure on the muscles, which can be ideal if your muscles are sore.
Trigger/knotted surface foam rollers are more incisive on the massage (which can be a bit uncomfortable at the beginning). The knots are made to simulate hand parts, and the pressure on the muscles is more felted throughout the massage.
Vibrating surface foam rollers, as the name says, are foam rollers with a soft or trigger surface with a battery included vibrating while you are using it. Due to the lack of studies concerning this type of rollers, I advise caution when you buy one.
Now that we learned the different foam roller’s specificities let’s look at the pros and cons of buying a foam roller.
Pros and Cons
- Reduce muscles pains, soreness, and helps with certain pain syndromes like fibromyalgia.
- Relatively safe and easy to use.
- Despite the money you’ll invest in a foam roller, usually is a one-time investment. On another hand, doing sportive massages on regular basis can be really expensive and traumatic to your wallet.
- Foam rolling stresses underlying tissues like blood and lymphatic vessels, nerves, and skin receptors, so if you have one of the following conditions, you should avoid using a foam roller: lymphedema, varicose veins, severe osteoporosis, and advanced diabetes mellitus.
- Due to the rise in popularity of foam rollers, many are the brands and fitness professionals claiming various benefits associated with using a foam roller. However, much of the evidence is limited or anecdotal, so be careful what you buy and do with a foam roller.
My Two Cents
After giving you the best and latest information available concerning foam rollers, I do hope you feel in a position to make a wise decision when and if you decide to buy a foam roller.
My personal experience has been great so far, not only as a release myofascial but also helping me in some static stretches that are doing wonders for my posture.
If you are curious to try a foam roller and don’t have any condition where the foam roller’s use can be harmful, I will most definitely give it a go!
And there you have it guys; my best effort explaining to you what is the best foam roller for beginners. And what about you? Did you already try a foam roller? And what are your thoughts? Please, let me know in the comment section below, as I would love to hear your experiences.
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Founder of Against the Ropes.