You may have only come across foam rollers after a trip to the physio, hidden at the back of your cupboard, or even just dabbled with one after a workout in the corner of the gym – but you still may not know what the fuss is all about.
These large cylindrical contraptions make the ideal pre and post training buddy. As a type of self-myofascial release (SMR), the motion of foam rolling helps to relieve muscular aches and pains and release any tightness, while also increasing flexibility and mobility. Whether you’re a running fanatic or a wannabe yogi, this is something to get your hands – or legs for that matter – on.
What are the different types of foam rollers?
They may come in one shape but foam rollers vary in firmness, and it’s important to choose the right one for your body. The harder the roller, the more painful it may feel, so newbies should start with a softer type to get used to the feeling. Move on to a tougher roller once you are used to it, as this will dig a little deeper into those aches and give a more thorough release.
Also look out for the varying textures – some are smooth, others are more spiked – again depends on how intense you want the deep muscle myofascial release to be. The harsher, more rugged structures will be more intense.
How do you use a foam roller?
The aim is to roll out any tender areas – keep still and guide the roller over with a light pressure for approximately 10 seconds to begin. Overtime and more experience, you will be able to increase the intensity and time, but be wary it may be a little painful at first.
To target your legs, lie on your back with the roller positioned under the calf or thigh and slowly roll back and forth. For your back, keep your legs at a 90-degree angle and rock up and down in a steady motion. There are plenty of videos to guide you through online.
When to use a foam roller?
Add the technique to your pre-exercise routine to limber up and stretch out, and tag onto the end of your cooldown to release any tensions, prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and leave you feeling relaxed.
What are the benefits of using a foam roller?
- Release muscular tensions
- Improves flexibility and range of movement
- Can reduce inflammation
- Aids recovery
- Budget and at-home friendly
See our pick of the best foam rollers for the ultimate recovery
lululemon Double Roller
This two-in-one roller is perfect for targeting the whole body. Use the exterior roller on your legs and arms before pulling out the interior to roll out under your back – nothing gets forgotten.
Choose from three colour palettes, including monochrome black and white, a dusty rose and sunset tones and pack in your sports bag to impress your fellow gym bunnies.Buy now £48, lululemon
Gymshark Recovery Roller
Opt for the bright turquoise colour and take this recovery roller wherever you go – it’s super lightweight and made for on the move. Created with an advanced-level foam pattern, this will unknot the tightest muscles and increase movement in time for the next workout.Buy now £25, Gymshark
Meglio Grid Foam Roller
Meglio’s roller is designed to mimic a physiotherapist’s hand with three levels of pressure across the roller, from firm (imitating the fingertips) to flat (imitating the softer palm).
Choose from one of the eight different colours and iron out your arms, legs and back post-workout. It’s great value and even comes with a free exercise manual to guide your recovery.Buy now £12.99, Meglio
Core Balance Grid Foam Massage Roller
Roll your muscles out over the bumpy texture of Core Balance’s foam roller and loosen up any aching spots. The firmness will break into the tissue of your muscles, increasing circulation and relieving pain effectively while protecting you from further injury. It’s lightweight and compact so makes the perfect buy for people on-the-go.Buy now £12.99, Amazon
Nike Recovery Foam Roller
This slick black Nike roller will target all the muscle groups with its firm pressure and textured surface. Warm up and cool down with it by your side and watch your flexibility and movement propel. A great one for beginners.Buy now £39.95, Nike
Adidas Foam Roller
Enhance your performance with this bobbled textured roller, made from a dense foam to last longer and provide a consistent post workout massage all over. It comes in a mini version too so there’s no excuse to leave it behind.Buy now £45, Adidas
Aptonia Foam Roller
No need to see a physio or book a massage thanks to Aptonia’s efficient foam roller. Spread your own body weight over the roller and self-massage your tense areas including your legs and arms. This one has a hard structure so may be better for those who have used before, or are on the hunt for deep relief. It is available in a flamboyant lime green or carbon grey.Buy now £12.99, Decathlon
MyProtein Muscle Roller
This versatile roller is great for all fitness enthusiasts – roll out pre or post exercise and keep your body in check. Its built-in foam grooves and bumps provide an extensive massage for the whole body, while helping prevent injury and aiding rehabilitation.Buy now £28, MyProtein
Opti EVA Foam Pilates Foam Roller
A good option for foam roller novices, designed with a smoother texture to ease you in. Use to soothe pains in your legs, back and arms and leave the gym feeling less tense and sore.Buy now £30, Argos
- Argos£30Buy now
Yoga-Mad Vari Massage Foam Roller
This sturdy foam roller, with its dual ABS and EVA construction, brings a durable option for sporty crowds wanting a strong and lasting piece of equipment. It has different patterns along its surface to cater for all intensities and provide long-lasting effects.Buy now £25.59, John Lewis.