Whether you just started going to the gym, or you’re a veteran athlete, one item you undoubtedly have noticed popping up left and right is the foam roller. While a foam roller is not an essential exercise prop, foam roller stretches are a welcome addition to any arsenal of home workout gear.
Most yoga studios have a roller on hand, and if you show up at a class with a sore shoulder or aching quads or a quirky back, the instructor will likely tell you to take a roll. Foam roller stretches are super at easing muscle tension. It works like a personal masseuse by applying pressure where you need it. The more sore you are, the more you will be uncomfortable as you roll. But the foam helps to break up tension and loosen fascia – the feathery links between ligaments – all of which will make your body feel better.
A foam roller is not just for yogis. My son’s high school cross-country team has a dozen on hand for their runners. The boys roll out before and after practice on a routine basis. The roller makes stretching more productive and helps speed along recovery for sore and tired muscles. While you will want to read the page of instruction that comes with most rollers, you will quickly learn rolling technique. Your first experience won’t be comfortable, but it will be productive.
While in the past you had to buy a roller from your physical therapist, foam rollers can now be purchased at your local drugstore. One favorite amongst our reviewers is the Aeromat Foam Roller (98/100)
“These foam rollers are an amazing way to achieve a full body stretch before any workout. They massage and provide an even amount of pressure to the body, allowing one to dynamically warm up and loosen up their bodies for physical activity” —BTallman, Reviewer since 2011
Another reviewer agrees:
“This aeromat foam roller is really great for working through muscle tension and stretch. It’s easiest to use if you’re lying on the floor and have lots of room to spread out and move around. You position the foam roller at a point where your muscles feel tense. The pressure from the foam causes the muscles to relax without you having to do much of anything” —rolnickj, Reviewer since 2010
Another reviewer is more explicit about her feelings:
“My foam roller is a life saver! I can’t live without it!” —sdkent79, Reviewer since 2010
At a cost of around $45, the Aeromat costs a lot less than a weekly personal massage. Gaiam also makes a foam roller, and it costs a bit less (around $30). I’ve seen them for as little as $15 on the internet.
However, as with any therapeutic prop, you don’t want to skimp on yourself. I recommend going with the Gaiam or Aeromat (both trusted brands), because the high-density foam in their rollers is strong and won’t wear out. I’ve had my roller for over five years (I bought it from a physical therapist). Rollers have truly emerged from the yoga studios and into the mainstream. A foam roller is one of the best investments for their body any athlete can make.