Foam Roller Guide
Foam rollers come in various densities and shapes. Below is a list of the different kinds of rollers you might come across and how each one helps take your physical health/recovery to the next level.
A soft foam roller is perfect for beginners and can be used by almost anyone since it’s the most gentle of them all. This option is great for those who are just getting used to foam rolling or those who are looking for a more rejuvenating (and less excruciating) recovery session. If you’re a total first-timer, this one from Spri is a solid option. It’s soft and has the most give. ($22; amazon.com)
This one’s for the athlete who has super-tight muscles that need a little extra love or for anyone who’s experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (what happens when it’s been two or three days since your last workout and you’re still sore.) It’s denser than a soft roller, which is more effective at relieving tight muscles and trigger points. A firm roller aligns muscle tissue and breaks up the beginnings of adhesions or muscle strains. It can also help with lymphatic drainage—which carries waste away from the tissues—and decreases inflammation.”($38; amazon.com)
Only use this style if you’re experienced with foam rolling and are ready for plenty of hurt-so-good pain. It provides little-to-no give, and the textured surface targets knots and kinks. Look for a roller like this one from TriggerPoint with a literal grid pattern design. ($35; tptherapy.com)
An even more advanced level than a grid roller. This roller should only be used on a healthy athlete, as it is extra firm, and the bumps built into the roller provide more focused trigger point relief and reportedly stimulate deeper layers of muscle. The roller works to increase the flexibility in your soft tissue and provide long-lasting pain relief. In other words, the temporary pain is worth it. Try the RumbleRoller.($45; amazon.com)
The ultimate player in the foam-rolling game. A vibrating foam roller takes the effectiveness of a deep-tissue foam roller and ups the ante with vibration technology. The goal is to minimize how much pain you actually feel (kind of like how those vibrating massage chairs feel good, not painful) while relaxing tight muscles, so you can spend less time and effort on those tender-to-the-touch areas and net better results. This version is much pricier than your standard roller, but worth it if you’re serious about relief.($200; amazon.com)