The Search For The Perfect Foam Roller

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Cindysphinx, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I have been using a foam roller for achilles tendonitis, with good results. I have a very soft white foam roller (too soft) and a black high-density one.

    The black one is good, but I am getting less out of it than I used to. I am wondering whether there is an even more aggressive foam roller I should buy.

    They have foam rollers with all sorts of bumps and shapes and thingies that supposedly make it work better, but I don't know if that is a bunch of malarkey.

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I have one with the 3 medieval looking balls with the knobs on it. Works great. $15 at Target.
     
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  3. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    My wife and I had the privilege of being guest instructors at Rancho La Puerta, in Mexico. While there, we met another instructor teaching a foam rolling class. All my foam rollers are pretty hard, a standard black one, The Grid, and The Rumble Roller. What this instructor taught was that hard rollers that violently deform the fascia will actually dehydrate the tissue and cause a guarding response. She strongly recommends people not use those kinds of rollers. She teaches something called The MELT Method, 'melt' being an acronym but I don't remember for what. I bought the book and the foam roller she recommended. I've played around with the roller, haven't started in on the book yet. I like the roller, especially for my legs. Way better for my quads and IT bands than the hard black ones, which were almost impossible to relax into, and if you're tensing while rolling you're negating the benefit of the rolling and possibly traumatizing the tissue.

    I"ll post more about this when I get deeper into it. We're also going to have her do a training class with us via Skype so we can better learn the right techniques for this method to give it a better evaluation.
     
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  4. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    They also have a foot/ankle kit that looks interesting. I recommended it to a client who has chronic foot/ankle pain that has improved significantly but not completely resolved through our work together. After she gets it and uses it for a bit I'll provide that feedback, too.
     
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  5. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting, Posture Guy.

    As I said, I have a softer white roller. This is the one I got when rehabbing after knee surgery in 2005.

    What you say makes sense, as I do find it hard to relax when rolling the IT band with the harder black roller. I can tell it isn't accomplishing anything if the muscle is tense.

    Maybe this is a situation where less is more and more is less. Or something.
     
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  6. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

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    I'll echo Posture's advice in not trying to be so aggressive.

    I always tell patients you want lower intensity and longer duration with soft tissue work. So yes, less intensity....more time....

    A lot of the time people will feel pretty good with pressure on a painful area, so they think more pressure is better and actually may feel better.
    "Hey this pressure feels good, let me put more pressure.....hey that feels even better!"

    What they don't realize is that in order to get more pressure into the area, they may be contracting the same areas that they're trying to relax which is counterproductive.

    I love my foam rollers, I'm not crazy about the ones with the knobs for myself....too uncomfortable, and not in a good way....but that's just me.

    So I'd suggest that if you find any particular areas while rolling to be painful/tender/hard....to hold there and try to breathe and soften into it. If you find it hard to keep your body relaxed because of balance issues, you can use a tennis ball for those specific areas while. Try to soften into any of those painful/tender/hard areas for 5 mins or build up to it.
     
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  7. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

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    But on the other hand.....to answer your question :twisted:

    I use this gadget:

    http://www.nolarola.com/


    I can use it along my quads/ITB's and use the grooved ends around my patella. http://www.nolarola.com/using3.php
    Can be very painful, but a "good" kind of hurt.

    Very versatile tool, but something I would classify as "aggressive". It is one of the least suggested tools in our clinic.

    YMMV, but just wanted to make you aware of it.
     
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  8. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Good info, thanks for posting.
     
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  9. tennixpl

    tennixpl Rookie

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    http://www.tptherapy.com/

    I have the ultimate pack, I still want to try the orange roller too. works for me better than the cheaper Golds Gym set I got at Wally World.

    Rollers are really great stuff for calves and quad/IT band region. I use the balls for trying to release the psoas muscles.
     
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  10. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I have the footballer, massage ball and grid roller. I have a hard time using the footballer for calves. Do you find the quad baller works better for calves?

    BTW, if anyone is interested the footballer helps a lot with plantar fasciitis.
     
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  11. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I bought a blue Rumble Roller (hard roller with big nubs) about 2 years ago and I rarely use it. I read Posture Guy's post about rollers and that makes sense about not being able to relax into the roller. I think it's just too harsh. I never thought about it damaging tissue but Posture Guy is probably onto something. Very interesting.
     
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  12. drak

    drak Professional

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    I like the knobby rumble roller but only on my hamstrings as it digs in to that fleshy area and for me works a lot better than the smooth black one.
     
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  13. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    I use a wooden roller like this and it's done me fine.
    [​IMG]

    I never considered the idea mentioned by Posture Guy above that a harder roller might "violently deform the fascia will actually dehydrate the tissue and cause a guarding response." - I only use the weight of my calf to press down on the roller and I've never found it to be overly harsh. Maybe it's the ones people hold with their hands that get pressed too hard but I'd have thought the circumference of the roller would make as much difference to the harshness/softness of it as the pressure used.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
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  14. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    I just started reading that book I referenced above, The MELT Method, about soft foam rolling. Very interesting, especially about the role of fluid dynamics in fascial functioning.

    I did the technique they recommend on my calves, which tend to get a bit tight from tennis. Didn't feel like it was particularly effective. But then used her techniques and the soft foam roller on my quads and IT band and felt a very positive effect.

    Gotta explore this more.
     
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  15. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Tracking...
     
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  16. drak

    drak Professional

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    keep us posted, I am a die hard form person, mostly use the smooth black one, I'd like to be educated if there is "solid evidence" another type would be better to use
     
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  17. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    Will do.

    I doubt there are any double blind studies that can reliably attest to fluid impact of different forms of foam rolling. I'm a believer in studies, to a point. With some things, it becomes "pretty is as pretty does".

    PRP and stem cell therapy is a great example. Right now there isn't a lot of hard data showing efficacy of this form of treatment, but there are a lot of folks like you (Drak) and your wife who have greatly benefitted. Based on those reports and what my doc says he sees, I'm moving forward there.

    With this form of foam rolling, I'm arranging to do some private sessions with the instructor I met so I can get taught correct/optimal techniques to work on my more problematic body parts. Then I'm going to just do that for awhile and see how it compares to the type of foam rolling I used to do. I'll report back what I see and feel.
     
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  18. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Yeah I think posture guy knows his stuff. Nothing wrong with the softer foam rollers. It's like getting a massage. If you are coming out all bruised that might be a little harsh..haha.

    That being said - what about PVC pipe. I have actually heard of people using this..as a harsh roller.
     
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  19. Molk

    Molk New User

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  20. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

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    ^^ There's nothing "stealth" about that thing....its huge!

    Looks interesting....only thing I don't like is the large diameter....my standard 6' foam roller when I'm using it on my T/S, I can hang out comfortably and let myself "hang" so to speak to put my T/S in extension and open up the ribs/pectorals while resting my head on my table.

    I don't think I'd be able to do the same comfortably with that thing....it'd place me too much in extension to be able to soften my body to stretch.
     
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  21. tennixpl

    tennixpl Rookie

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    yeah the calf one is a little too small, it only works when you are trying to get the outer calf muscle on side of shin. i use it for foot too, though my issue is tight calves.
     
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  22. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    I don't have a definitive response yet, and it will be a few weeks before I get our private instruction class via Skype with the instructor out in LA, but the more I use the soft roller, the more I dislike my hard ones. It just feels like my my body can't relax fully into the position so I'm rolling over some measure of tissue rigidity.

    More as I get it.
     
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  23. TennisGal128

    TennisGal128 New User

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    I was recommended by my friend to try this roller out from beachbody- http://www.beachbody.com/product/fitness_gear/foam-roller.do. It has met all my expectations. The price is great and the quality of it is amazing. It also seems to be longer then my last roller so I don't have to move it around so much when doing my exercises. I had a really expensive foam roller a few years back and it flattened out on me, I am hoping to get a few years out of this new one.
     
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  24. Giannis

    Giannis Rookie

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    I am using a PVC pipe on the calves. I dont feel anything with soft foam rollers.
     
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  25. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Posture Guy,

    Any updates on your experience?

    I'm looking to get into foam rolling and wondering where I should start.

    At the moment, I've just been using a tennis ball in a sock up against the wall on my back.
     
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  26. purple-n-gold

    purple-n-gold Professional

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    All I've been using for a few yrs. Tempted to buy a roller though.
     
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  27. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

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    What's the sock for?
     
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  28. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    So I don't drop the tennis ball on the floor when I adjust my position. If I were doing the rolling on the ground, I wouldn't need the sock. Though it would limit the movement in that case, too.
     
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  29. Posture Guy

    Posture Guy Professional

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    yeah, I'm a fan of the soft-implement approach. I like the soft foam roller a lot. And I like Yoga Tune-Up Balls much better than lacrosse balls.

    All that said, I still feel like I get more benefit from using a firmer roller when doing my calves, or if I'm specifically trying to get something akin to a chiropractic adjustment in my spine, to release the facet joints. But other than that, I use the soft roller and love it. If you go to amazon and search for 'soft foam roller', it's the pink marbled one from OTPT, NOT the blue one.
     
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  30. SFrazeur

    SFrazeur Legend

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    [​IMG]

    There you go! Less than $5 bucks at Lowes.
     
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  31. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Thanks for the advice.

    Do you have any thoughts on how to roll to increase ankle flexibility?

    I had a severe ankle sprain about two years ago from stepping into a hole while running. My strength is probably 95% in that ankle now and it feels very stable, but the range of movement is still limited. I can bring my other knee far more forward over the foot than the sprained ankle. I can't balance in an Asian squat because that ankle lacks mobility, though I have the mobility in my hips and back.

    If I could get the mobility back in that ankle it would help my overall movement and balance.
     
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  32. babar

    babar Semi-Pro

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    Anybody try the massage roller sticks? I bought a Gaiam one at Target for $20 which had 3 spiky roller balls and it seemed to work well, but it broke very easily. The handle just bent and the grip came off.

    I've been looking at more expensive ones, but not sure if they will be any better quality.

    Any suggestions?
     
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  33. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    If I could get the mobility back in that ankle it would help my overall movement and balance.

    Rehab. Lots of rehab. Ankle stretches and strengthening. Can you stand on one foot? What about relevé on one foot?

    I do one legged calf raises because my weak foot does nothing for 2-legged raises. Don't cheat. Arnold used to go all the way up to build those massive calfes.
     
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