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Category Archives for "Foam Rollers for Fitness"

Pilates Foam Roller

Here's the deal

We live in a day and age where dealing with slow post-workout recoveries isn’t something you have to deal with. Luckily, we also live in a world where we have some of the best foam rollers at our disposal, more specifically, foam rollers that actually work for Pilates.

There's a catch

With a market literally flooded with foam cylinders, how do you pick the ultimate roller? Do you go with soft or ultra-firm? Do you opt for the biggest foam roller out there, or stick to one that fits into a gym bag?

What’s in a great Pilates Foam Roller?

  • Essentially, a Pilates foam roller has to cater to your specific needs, so it needs to target muscle group massage.
  • You need a foam roller with a harder core that’s a little denser than the softer and more forgiving materials sported in some rollers
  • And lastly, you need a portable foam roller so that you’ll easily be able to stuff it into a gym bag

With the basics out of the way, let’s get to business here. We’ve rounded up some of the very best rated foam rollers out there. These rollers stand out from the rest and provide you with the best myofascial massage, regardless of whether you’re a newbie roller or an old hand at the game.

The Best Pilates Foam Rollers

Trigger Pint Performance - The Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller

The Grid is different in the sense that it’s made with far less foam than models you might have tried out before. Measuring in at 13 inches long, the Trigger Point Performance roller won’t let you down. The Grid has a unique distrodensity zone design, promising a targeted and effective massage time after time. The best part about The Grid is that it was designed to hold up some serious abuse, so consistent usage is its middle name. It does come available in a larger 26 inch version, but for all goals and purposes, the 13 inch model is one of your best Pilates foam rollers on the market today.

The Pros
  • It's compact
  • It works with a targeted massage action
  • It has a durable design

The Cons

  • It's not suitable for beginners
  • It's a bit pricey
Trigger Point Grid 2.0

EPE Black High Density Foam Roller

The EPE foam roller is simply amazing in the sense that it’s simple and very effective. The high density construction ensures the roller gets rid of knots, aches and pains in the shortest amount of time. As a word of warning, this is an unforgiving roller, and it won’t give during a session at all. It’s a perfect size, which means tall and short users can appreciate the generous size, essentially making this one of the best rollers for your back and legs.

The Pros

  • The size is great
  • The design is basic yet very effective
  • It's made with dense material, so it's very durable

The Cons

  • Beginners might find it a little hard
  • The EPE doesn't come in a mid-range option
  • You'll have to know what to do with the roller from the word go since it doesn't come with an instruction manual
EPE Black High Density Foam Roller

Master of Muscle Foam Roller

If you’re looking for the best roller for massage therapy, the Master of Muscle foam roller should be your first consideration. It’s great for providing fast relief of aches and pains and has been praised for its ability to boost your performance in Pilates class and also help you recover much faster. The fact that it’s compact and lightweight just makes the deal that much sweeter.

The Pros

  • It's made from a lightweight material
  • It comes available in an extensive array of colors
  • It's ideal for myofascial massage

The Cons

  • It's a little narrow, so people with large frames might have some beef with it
  • The ridges could definitely have been a little firmer
Master of Muscle Unisex Foam Roller

OPTP Pro-Roller Soft Pink Marble

The OPTP Pro-Roller is your best bet for a softer and gentler foam roller, and it comes highly recommended for myofascial massage and especially for Pilates. While the soft pink material looks like it might be a little flimsy, the roller more than stands up to consistent and heavy usage.

The Pros

  • It's made with a softer material for beginners
  • It's ideal for myofascial massage and Pilates
  • It's easy to clean and it's also durable

The Cons

  • It's not cheap
  • The roller has an initial chemical odor
Optp Pro Foam Roller

ProSource Ultra Deluxe Revolutionary Sports Medicine Roller

Because sometimes we’re all on a budget…this is out top pick for the most affordable foam roller. It measures in at nearly double the size that the other top picks sport, so if size is an issue, you might have to consider your priorities, budget over length, and stick to the most important factor. What the extra size ensures is that you’ll always have more than enough roller to get the tension rolled out on, and the bumps on the roller are firm but flexible, so it’s easy to target more sensitive areas. Overall it’s a great budget buy roller.

The Pros

  • It specifically caters for large muscle groups
  • The firm and flexible bumps reach sensitive areas easily
  • It's very affordable

The Cons

  • It's not the firmest roller on the market
  • Since it's big, it's not very portable
  • It's much heavier than the competitors
ProSource Sports Medicine Foam Roller

Rolling With It Foam Roller

The Rolling With It Foam Roller is amazing for its brilliant versatility. Yes it’s a self-massage roller. Yes it’s great for physical therapy. Yes, it handles myofascial release like a boss and yes, it’s a great Pilates roller. The eco-friendly EVA foam used for construction ensures the roller will hold its shape and won’t flake or chip with heavy usage.

The Pros

  • It's ideal for Pilates
  • It's made with eco-friendly EPA foam
  • It comes available in 3 sizes

The Cons

  • Beginners will find this foam roller to be a little too hard
  • Using the roller on your lower back will probably feel too painful
ProSource Sports Medicine Foam Roller

Final Thoughts

We’ve shown you 6 of the best foam rollers for Pilates. Now you know what the best look like and you’ll be able to tell them from the rest. Make sure you check out The Best Large Foam Rollers that’ll sort out big muscle groups in a snap!

Foam Roller Stretches

Foam rolling is one of the absolute best things you can do for your body. Short of getting a massage on a regular basis (talk about expensive!) this is the most effective way to loosen tight muscles, get blood flowing before your workout and then promoting recovery after your workout! It may be a little painful at first, but as you get used to it you will welcome the few short moments of discomfort for the loose and relaxed feeling you have afterward!

If you are new to foam rolling then the first thing you need to do is pick out a foam roller. They come in different densities for people of different skill levels. You should most likely start out with a white (least dense) foam roller and work your way up. Blue or green rollers are generally for intermediate users and black is high density foam for experienced rollers.

All the same stretches can be done with any of these rollers and there are many different sizes and kinds. You can learn more about choosing your foam roller in our other articles such as Best Travel Foam Rollers.

Once you have picked out the right foam roller for your ability and skill level, you will need to learn how to properly use your foam roller. The first thing you need to know is you should never roll over your joints – always keep the roller under your muscles.

Another important thing t note: it may be painful or uncomfortable at first. This is normal, however it should never be unbearable. As you roll back and forth you will find knots or trigger points – when you find these you should stop and hold that position to apply direct pressure until the pain subsides. Then you can resume rolling.

Upper Back Stretch

1. Rest your back on the roller with it long ways across your shoulders.

2. With your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees.

3. Lift your butt off the floor and put your hands behind your head or across your chest.

4. Use your core for support and roll back and forth from your mid back to the top of your shoulder blades.

Tip: Don’t try to look at your knees or your feet as this can cause strain on the neck and spine. For proper positioning keep your head and neck aligned with your back consistently.

Lower Back Stretch

For this stretch you will position yourself almost identically to the description above. The only difference is the fact that you will be starting at your mid back and rolling down to the top of your hips.

Hamstrings and Calves

1. Sit on the floor with your right leg stretched in front of you on the roller and your left knee bent, foot flat on the floor.

2. With your hands behind you and the roller beneath your thigh, roll forward to your knee.

3. After you roll the upper half of your leg, move the roller o below your knee and roll down to your ankle.

4. Switch legs and repeat!

IT Band (Iliotobial Band – hips, butt and knees)

1. Lay on the left side with the roller under your left hip.

2. Your right leg should be crossed over your left, with your foot flat on the floor.

3. Support your body with your left forearm; your right hand should be on your hip.

4. Roll down from below your hip to above your knee.

Quadriceps

1. Lie facing down with the roller under your upper thighs.

2. Your elbows should be bent with your forearms flat on the floor for support.

3. Your legs should be off the ground with your knees straight and parallel to the ground.

4. Roll down from the upper thigh to just above the knee.

Glutes

1. Sit on the floor with your legs out straight ahead.

2. Extend your arms behind you and lift yourself so the foam roller is under your butt.

3. Bend one leg and angle your body to work one “cheek” at a time.

4. The range of motion for this roll is small – that’s okay, this is a quick stretch to workout both sides.

Shins

1. Start with your hands and knees on the floor.

2. Position the roller underneath your shins, just below your knees.

3. Roll from just under your knee to your ankle.

Latissimus Dorsi

1. Lie on your right side with your right arm extended out in front of you.

2. The roller should be directly under your armpit.

3. Your right leg should be in line with your body straight ahead on the floor and your left leg should be bent with your foot flat on the ground and behind your right leg.

4. Roll from your armpit to just above your waist.

Where to Start

When you are just working out you should try a few different exercises and see which ones are the easiest for you. Start with those stretches and be sure to do them at least three times a week – more if possible is better in this case.

Once you have gotten a couple of the simple stretches down, or you have gotten control of your problem areas, then it is time to build into more stretches. Foam rolling is definitely one of the best exercises that we can include in a daily workout routine, but it is a skill that takes time to learn and build from.

Foam Roller for Yoga

Foam rollers are making waves in the fitness industry because they are relatively inexpensive, super-versatile and can target just about any muscle that has a knot or some tension that needs to be sorted out. If you’re not using one in your workout routine already, you’re missing out on some serious benefits.

The great thing about foam rollers is that they complement a Yoga workout exceptionally well and going back to pre-foam-roller-yoga days just won’t seem as effective once you’ve tried using one.

So HOW exactly can foam rollers improve a Yoga workout?

  • If you’re experiencing an aching lower back during your Savasana (corpse) pose, try slipping a foam roller under your knees to help relieve the most pressure.
  • If you battle to hold out an extended triangle pose, you can use a short roller to help even out your balance and maintain it.
  • Foam rollers are more effective than Yoga blocks in the sense that they help you maintain your balance more easily and also help to release your muscles more easily during a Yoga routine.

OPTP, the leaders in Orthopedic Physical Therapy Products has some awesome foam rollers that you can use in your Yoga routine, and because they are so versatile, they can also be effectively used for helping your body recover faster after workouts and improve general balance and flexibility.

For Yoga specific foam rollers from OPTP, have a look at these amazing products:

OPTP Pro Roller Arch for Yoga

The Arch is a fantastic foam rolling tool which can be used to improve your posture on a foam roller, enhance your Yoga workout, increase the stability of a foam roller, act as a Yoga block, as a positioning tool and much, much more.

When you place the Arch across the top of a standard Pro Roller from OPTP (any 6 inch diameter roller for that matter), it successfully helps to prevent hyperextension of the cervical spine.

When you place more than just one Arch underneath a foam roller, the center of gravity is higher, which makes it less stable and this increases the intensity of the workout.

Use it as a spacer between your knees or as a cushion under them to relieve some pressure or you could also use it along with other half-rollers.

The uses for the Arch are just about unlimited, making it one of the most versatile rollers out there, as well as one of the best tools to support your body’s efficient, optimal position during a Yoga routine.

The Arch from OPTP is super durable as it has been constructed with EVA foam, and to make things easier for you, it comes with an instructional poster to help you learn the many different techniques that can be practiced with this half-roller.

OPTP Silver AXIS Standard Foam Roller

This roller is the standard 6 inch in diameter roller we mentioned that works like magic when combined with the Arch roller from OPTP.

The AXIS Standard Foam Roller is the option for everyone, from Yogi’s and runners all the way through to the regular Jane trying to keep in shape and improve her muscle flexibility and balance at home. This is one of the best cost effective foam rollers.

Silver Axis EVA Foam Roller

It’s still super durable, even though it is the economical option, but that in no way means that the quality isn’t right up there with the other great foam rollers OPTP offers. You’re probably not going to use this one in a sports medicine center or a gym, but for the home uses, its more than perfect!

The AXIS Standard is perfect for rehab, workout and off course making your Yoga routine a little less strenuous. You’ll be able to roll away tension, stretch out sore muscles, perform great self-myofascial release techniques and promote recovery and healing after a workout.

We love it because it fits any budget, but performs like a high-end product, giving you all you’ll ever need and more from a standard foam roller.

The roller is constructed using heat-molded foam technology that ensures it has a super smooth surface and also won’t lose its shape after being used moderately (or even heavily). This might be OPTP’s Standard foam roller, but when compared to others in its class, its set to far outlast the rest.

Now that you know what tools to use for the “job”, here are some more examples of how to use a foam roller during your Yoga session:

  • Plank baby! – Let your arms rest on the foam roller instead of on the floor (which will take off some of the load and also make it more comfortable). You’ll perform the plank in the same way you always have, you’re just making it a more comfortable position to hold out.
  • Side Roll – Lie down on your side and then roll the foam roller between your hip and your knee, or your knee and your calf, while you support your body with your arms.
  • Hamstring Stretch – You could easily adapt your sitting Yoga pose into a hamstring stretch by sitting on the foam roller and then rolling back and forth with your feet while maintaining a straight upper body posture.

When foam roller first started to emerge, a lot of the stretches that were being performed resembled the techniques and asanas practiced in Yoga. Since Yoga has been around since the ancient times and is still alive and thriving, incorporating modern and effective “helping hands” into the discipline only makes sense. Most Yoga poses can be altered a little so that you can easily incorporate a foam roller as either a balancing tool or as a muscle releasing tool for your session.

Foam Roller Exercises For Your Upper Back

We’ve all heard about the impeccable benefits that foam roller exercises can add to our lives. Essentially foam rolling is a self-myofascial release massage that works by applying pressure to certain parts of the body in order to relieve pain. What follows is an increase in blood flow to the problem area that relieves tenderness.

Name

Rating

Price

The Trigger Point Grid 2.0 Foam Roller

Read Reviews Here​

$$$

6 Inch Posture Ball

Read Reviews Here​

$

Premium Professional Foam Roller

Read Reviews Here​

$$

When the exercises are done before and after workouts they can prevent and treat sore and tender muscles and help speed up recovery time after a workout. It’s always important to use a good quality, durable, foam roller that will support your body weight. But what’s more important than the specific brand of roller you use is the way you use it. If done incorrectly you could actually be worsening the problem.

When you are targeting your upper back specifically there are a few exercises specifically designed for this body part. To get the maximum effectiveness, these exercises should be performed by rolling each target muscle for 30 seconds at a time and when you find a specific “knot” resting on it for about 10-20 seconds before moving on.

Chest Roll Out Using A Foam Roller

Sometimes you can experience pain in your upper back that might actually be caused by chest muscles that are tight due to hunching over a computer all day long. You really want to stretch out those chest muscles in order to relief the feeling of your back that seems to feel tight, when in fact the muscles are stretched out. To get his problem sorted out do the following:

Foam Roller Chest Roll Out
  • Place a foam posture ball on the floor and lie on top of it positioning the ball on your chest beside the shoulder joint 
  • Now with the ball to the side of your shoulder, move your hand overhead and then back down towards your legs again 
  • Do this move 5 times on each side and rest on trigger points. Remember to do a slow, controlled stretch.

Lat Roll Out Using a Foam Roller

This move helps to alleviate pain caused by strained Lat muscles that might be the cause of that pestering upper back pain.

Foam Roller Lat Roll Out

  • Lie down on your side with your arm stretched out overhead and then place a foam roller under your armpit
  • You'll want to rock forward and backward on the roller and then slowly move the roller lower down the side of your back. Work all the way from your armpit to the end of your ribcage. 

Shoulder U

This move is great and works your entire upper body in one easy exercise.

  • Lie face down and place a foam posture ball under your chest. Roll it along the shoulder joint and then under your armpit to reach the side of your back
  • Now roll it from your armpit to hit the back between your shoulder blades.
  • Roll up and down the shoulder blade then roll it back again to the front.
  • Repeat on the one side about 3 times and then switch over to the other side.

The Best Foam Rollers For Your Upper Back

The Trigger Point Grid 2.0 Foam Roller

The grid is always high on my list of recommend foam rollers and this time is no different. It features a multitude of grooves which help to reach difficult spots. Those grooves also promote blood flow which is essential to recovery. In my opinion there isn't a foam roller on the market that keeps it's shape as well as the Grid 2.0.

​Although not the cheapest foam roller available, it really is versatile. I've heard storied of this foam roller being extremely effective for upper back pain in fact we received the following testimonial for this foam roller from a colleagues wife.

"The TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller has been absolute life saver. I actually discovered this foam roller at a hotel gym on a business trip about a year ago. My back was killing me from all the different beds I was sleeping on that I wasn't quite used to. I started to use the Trigger Point foam roller and felt better even after one session. It doesn't exactly provide soothing relief but it got the job done."
Trigger Grid 26

6 Inch Posture Ball – by Balanced Body

This is a great foam rolling tool for self-myofascial pain relief massage, and can be used just like ordinary log shaped foam rollers. It provides instant trigger point release for sore and tender muscles and its small size ensures you can take it with you wherever you are going. This ball is really perfect for deep stretching and is an investment well worth making!

Although the posture ball isn't your typical foam roller it is a fantastic foam roller 'esque' option for getting into those smaller places in your upper back that an average foam roller just might not be able to get into. Many people will use this type of foam roller to help massage soft tissues, providing relief nearly instantly. 

Foam Roller Ball

Premium Professional Foam Roller – by Flo Roller

This 18 inch long foam roller provides deep massage that leads to effective relief of muscle tenderness and strains. It’s designed to help improve blood flow to problematic muscles and provide pain relief. The roller is a premium quality, solid hollow core design covered in premium Eva foam to provide the best therapeutic results. Its durable and rugged and is a great addition to any athlete’s exercise routine.

It’s easy to see why so many people are turning to the trusty foam roller to alleviate and relief muscle aches and pains associated with training, and even everyday situations that put our bodies under immense strain. These tools are being recommended by fitness industry professionals and chiropractors across the globe to provide you with an at home massage treatment that can help treat and prevent muscle injuries effectively and effortlessly.

Premium Professional Foam Roller

Looking for more information about foam rolling your upper back?

Lucky for you, the internet is littered with fantastic information regarding different exercises and 'how-to' videos when it comes to foam rolling for your upper back. Below, is one of my favorite videos when it comes to using the foam roller for the upper back. I hope you enjoy!

Foam Rolling Exercises for Your IT Band

Illiotibial Band syndrome can be described as one of the main causes in knee pain for runners. Essentially IT Band is a thick band of fascia on the knee that extends from the outside of the pelvis over the hip and knee.

This band is a crucial part to free movement and overtraining and not stretching may cause inflammation that can really hurt and even cause you stop working out altogether. The good news however is that this tension pain can easily be treated and prevented with the help of foam rolling. What’s very important though is that you use a good quality foam roller and know what stretches to perform to get you back on track STAT.

Name

Price

Rating

LuxFit Premium

$

Yes4All Deep Tissue

$$

RumbleRoller

$$$

Essentially there is only one surefire way of treating your IT Band discomfort as soon as possible and provide almost immediate relief.

IT Band: Foam Roller Exercise

  • Lie on your side resting on your elbow then put the roller under your hip.
  • Roll your body forward so the roller moves all the way down to your knee.
  • Now roll back so the roller stops at your hip again. Do this continuously (at a slow pace) for roughly 40 seconds then switch to the other side.
  • Repeat this on both sides at least 4 times. You’ll find that adding more body weight increases the tension and provides deeper relief.
  • When you get to a “pressure point” try resting on it for about 10 seconds and then continue rolling.

You should always remember that you want to just stretch to the point of slight discomfort, and not complete agonizing pain. Don’t over-stretch the IT Band and aim at doing this routine 3-4 times per week for optimal results. Prevention is always better than cure, so even if you aren’t in any discomfort at the moment, always do your stretches before and after a workout.

People do tend to make a few mistakes when using foam rollers that leave them thinking foam rolling doesn’t work. To get the best results have a look at some of the common mistakes of foam rolling.

  • Don’t exclusively roll on areas where you feel pain – rolling entire sections of muscle will get you better and more relieving results, and often eases out tension where you didn’t even know it existed.
  • Don’t roll too fast – stretching out a muscle takes time. Roll slowly and apply enough body weight throughout the entire length of a stretch.
  • Don’t spend more than 1 minute on a tension point – Spending too much time on pressure points could actually intensify the pain and won’t help solve the problem. One day at a time. Baby steps!
  • Don’t slouch over the roller – keeping your posture firm and in line is key when rolling. If you’re just draping yourself over the foam roller it won’t provide you with results.

Now that you know how to use it, you want to be sure that you have a good quality foam roller. Here are out top 3 picks for getting rid of IT Band discomfort using a foam roller as soon as possible.

LuxFit Premium High Density roller

This roller is very affordable and provides a great relief from IT Band tension. The molded polyethylene foam with its 2 lbs. per cubic foot density supports your body all the way and doesn’t lose its shape even with regular heavy use. It’s definitely built to last and has the same qualities as the rollers used in gyms.

Trigger Point The Grid Foam Roller

The Grid Foam Roller

Okay so this roller has it all in the name. It really helps you work out deep muscle tension and gets the job done in a jiffy. It stretches and massages muscles and tissues in all directions. This is probably the best foam roller on the market.

The great thing about this roller is the fact that its only 13 inches long and will easily fit in a gym bag, making it a handy take-along friend when you’re out and about. It’s also a cute looking roller and with its vibrant colors it’s sure to stand out from the rest. The Trigger Point Deep Tissue roller won’t break the bank and is sure to be a great addition to your workout routine.

RumbleRoller Deep Tissue Massage Roller

Rumble Roller Foam Roller

This roller might be a little more of an “investment” but it has great value for money. The finger like knobs on the roller really target deep tissue and muscle that needs extra care and attention. It serves as a massage tool too so you’ll be getting a relaxing and soothing post-workout stretch that will help you speed up recovery and keep muscles in tip-top shape. This roller isn’t for the rookie rollers, and you might want to start out with a smooth surface if you’re just starting out on foam rolling. What this roller gives is you more advanced massage triggering pressure points. It’s great for everyday use and is extremely durable.

Equipped with this knowledge you should be able to effectively and efficiently get rid of the nagging pain that comes with IT Band. It’s crucial to remember that you should be treating your injury several times per week and be consistent. There are also various other stretching techniques that you can use to give you relieve from IT Band but when you need fast and long lasting results, turning to a foam roller is your quickest and most helpful treatment option.

The Benefits of Using a Foam Roller

If you’re not currently using a foam roller, you’re missing out on one of the most effective pre and post workout tools. And unlike some of the other great recovery tools a foam roller is a fraction of the price.

Foam Roller Benefits

How many of you take supplements post workout? Or see a professional, such as a massage therapist or a chiropractor? All of these things can run several hundreds of dollars if not thousands of dollars.

Yet a simple piece of rigid foam can have a dramatic effect for as little as $15. Dollar for dollar there may not be a more useful way to warm up, prevent injury and reduce recovery time than a simple foam roller.

And while a roller may not have the same impact that a single session at a physiotherapist would have (hint: it won’t) it can be used daily without breaking the bank.

Providing daily treatment to the area(s) that are bothering you should be a no brainer.

Foam Roller Benefits

Deep tissue massage or myofascial release (MR) has long been recognized as a legitimate treatment for athletes. And while there are far fewer studies which have demonstrated that SMR is an effective treatment for athletes common sense leads us to believe that if MR is effective, SMR on some level must also be effective.

The main three benefits can be broken down into three groups:

  • Rehabilitation
  • Injury Prevention & Maintenance
  • Muscle Recovery

Rehabilitation

Anybody that has sought after professional help to recover from a sports injury knows that the MOST important part of the program is the exercises they prescribe to you at home.

If you don’t do the exercises you risk slower recovery times or not ever fully recovering. You don’t need to look very hard to find physiotherapists, which either recommend a foam roller for injury prevention or recommend foam roller exercises as part of their rehabilitation program.

To some extent, a foam roller mimics active release therapy (ART). Active release therapy is a technique, which helps to treat various musculoskeletal disorders. By applying pressure to problematic areas you cause a reaction, which often leads to a response that helps to heal the body.

It is the reason it’s recommend you pause briefly on problematic areas while using a foam roller.

Injury Prevention & Maintenance

I generally incorporate a foam rolling routine pre-workout AND post-workout.

Pre-Workout

I roll the entire body out pre-workout to get the blood flowing. And then I go straight into my dynamic stretching routine.

I don’t spend very long on the roller prior to lifting or going a run because I’m NOT trying to perform ART I’m just simply encouraging blood to flow to the various areas of my body. I spend about five minutes working from the bottom to the top with a few passes on each body part.

Not only are you encouraging blood flow you’re also gently activating a number of your muscles, particularly your core as you roll out your body.

Post-Workout

Post-workout I’ll jump back on the roller and begin to work on some of those problematic areas. If I worked out my legs that day I’ll pay special attention to my lower body. The same goes for my chest, back or any other muscle group that I may have focused on.

Compared to my pre-workout routine I’ll spend a lot more time post-workout. I’ll roll each muscle for 30 seconds to a minute depending on how many trigger points I find. When I find a particularly tender area I’ll pause for 15-20 seconds.

Muscle Recovery

Off days are actually when I spend the most time using a foam roller. I try to address problem areas and I spend 15-20 minutes rolling my entire body out.

The primary goal is to help improve recovery times by increasing blood flow. Blood is vital for muscle because with it, it brings nutrients and oxygen.

What Can I Use For Self Myofascial Release (SMR)?

A roller such as the Grid 2.0 or a high-density foam roller is the most obvious answer. However, here is a list of SMR tools, which can be extremely effective.

  • A Lacrosse Ball – Lacrosse balls are $4 and can provide a huge benefit. They’re extremely effective in place of a foam roller when it comes to dealing with hips, feet and even calves.
  • A Muscle Stick – The muscle stick is very similar to a foam roller, however because it’s handheld it allows you to target some areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. I love the muscles stick for my quadriceps and hips.
  • Theracane – An alternative to using bodyweight to work on the trigger points in your back. The theracane isn’t my favorite product but it is excellent at pin-pointing knots in your back.
  • Trigger Point Cold Roller – This is one of my favorite recovery products while training for a long race. Stick the cold roller in the freezer before going for a run. When you get back pull it out and voilà, you have an ice cold foot roller. The cold treatment plus the SMR is hard to beat.

    The only downside to this product is it is expensive and really only has one use – rolling out your feet.
  • Yoga Balls or Trigger Point Balls – You’re going to pay a lot more money for these balls than a standard lacrosse ball. That said, they have more give to them, which is a good thing as lacrosse balls tend to be extremely rigid.
  • Foam Roller – A foam roller is the best self myofascial release tool. It’s incredibly versatile and they’re relatively inexpensive, if you’re going to only purchase one SMR tool make it a foam roller. I always recommend the Grid 2.0 but if you can’t afford it buy a high density foam roller.

Foam rollers have become a integral part of my workout. For anyone who is active I cannot recommend it enough.

A Runner’s Guide to Foam Rollers

The reason I initially started using a foam roller was because a high level trainer who is a close friend recommended I try self-myofascial release for managing injuries while training for a marathon.

At that time I had a lot of questions - What’s the best foam roller for a runner? Which exercises should I be doing? Should I be using my foam roller daily, only after workouts or some other frequency? What can I expect when I use a roller?

Fortunately, I was speaking directly with a trainer who has worked with professionals at the highest levels and has completed ultra marathons and triathlons.

My goal is to take the information I’ve learned over the past several years from both my good friend and my own research and construct an easy to digest article.

Self Myofascial Release: An Athletes A Runner’s Best Friend

I typically use a foam roller three or four times a week before and after a workout. In my non-scientific opinion I found the most benefit while training for a marathon. It’s possible that I loved my foam roller more then usual because I was training a lot harder and working out more frequently.

That said, I think foam rollers are most beneficial when used to roll out the lower body. The reason is pretty simple, you’re legs make up some of the largest muscles in your body. Generally speaking, foam rollers are more effective when you’re targeting large muscles.

Running is lower body intensive, so it makes logical sense that there would be more benefit post run then after an upper body workout.

If you are a runner and you’ve never tried using a foam roller you are missing out.

Choosing the Best Foam Roller for a Runner

Foam rollers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some rollers will break down in a few months, others will last you a life time.

First I want to highlight some of the foam rollers I would absolutely avoid.

The Worst Foam Rollers for Runners

EVA Foam Rollers

These are the cheapest option for a reason. If you’re extremely light you might get away with rolling on one of these for four or five months before it begins to deform. Once that happens the quality of your foam rolling routine will plummet.

If you're a runner, you should be rolling a lot! EVA foam rollers work well for other people, just not runners.​

Rumble Roller

The rumble roller is pretty expensive and it is incredibly awkward. The spikes, which are designed to penetrate deep layers of tissue make it fairly difficult to roll. And unless you have a high pain tolerance or have been using foam rollers for a long time they’re not very practical.

A rumble roller hurts to the point where it impacts my routine in a negative way. Not to mention it’s a terrible device for warming up.

Travel Roller

I actually like the Travel Roller, it’s one of the most effective compact foam rollers. So why is it on this list?

Compact rollers are not as effective as a full size one. If you run several times a week you’re going to be spending some quality time with your foam roller. Invest in a full size, and if you do travel a lot pick up a Travel Roller as a portable option.

The Best Foam Roller for Runners – The Grid 2.0

In my opinion, the grid is the best foam roller on the market. It’s durable, solid and has a range of densities and textures on each roller.

Unlike some of the cheaper rollers it doesn’t deform under my two hundred pound frame. It’s 26”, which I actually prefer over the standard 36” roller. Both lengths work terrific, one just has an unnecessary 12”.

The one draw back is the price point. It is not the cheapest foam roller (in fact it’s one of the more expensive rollers). That said I can easily justify the expense. I look at my Grid 2.0 the same way I view my shoes and water bottle – the only essential pieces of equipment.

I haven’t had a chance to try it, but Trigger Point just released the grid X Extra Firm roller which is 13” roller which is twice as firm as the original.

A Cheap Foam Roller for Runners – High Density EPE

Sometimes you’ll see these referred to as molded polyethylene foam or simply as a high-density foam roller.

These are far cheaper than the Grid 2.0 and while they may not be as awesome they’ll get the job done. They should last a year before they begin to lose their shape. Of course, this is dependent on how frequently you’re using your foam roller.

A Runner’s Foam Rolling Routine

I like to spend time on my roller before AND after a run. If I had to guess 85% of users only pick their roller up after their run.

Pre-Run Routine

The pre-run routine serves as an amazing warm up. The goal of a warm up is to elevate the heart rate, activate muscles and get the blood circulating. Going through a five or ten minute warm up on a roller ticks all of the boxes. Unlike my post run routine I won’t pause or try to hit trigger points.

This is pretty simple; I start at the bottom and work my way up.

I also spend some extra time on my feet and my hips. Those are my problem areas and need a little bit extra TLC.

  • Feet
  • Shins
  • Calves
  • IT Band
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Hips
  • Glutes

For my feet I actually use a foot roller or a lacrosse ball. I also prefer a smaller roller for my hips.

Post-Run Routine

After my run I’ll spend twenty minutes rolling and stretching. Because running isn’t an explosive activity I can understand not taking the time to always warm up. You can ease yourself into a jog and warm up that way.

I never skip my post workout routine, it’s too important for injury prevention and recovery. I do the exact same routine, but in the reverse order. I also spend longer, pausing on trigger points and generally moving at a slower pace.

  • Butt
  • Hips
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • IT Band
  • Calves
  • Shins
  • Feet

My trainer would always encourage me to really notice the difference in mobility pre and post run. After a workout, you'll notice you're more flexible. This is one reason he always told me basic movement is one of the best ways to increase flexibility and mobility.