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What type of foam roller should I use?

Foam rollers are like marmite, you either love them or hate them. We've rounded up our top five types of foam rollers...

What is a foam roller?

Foam rollers are used to mimic deep tissue massage to aid recovery, increase flexibility and decrease muscle tension in those tight spots. The two main uses of the foam roller is general soft tissue release and trigger point work for tight spots, specifically this is known as self-myofascial release. Simply put, the way the rolling motion works for recovery is that it stimulates blood circulation, increasing oxygen flow to the muscles and speeding up repair.


Smooth surface, high-density foam roller

A first-time roller user might want to pick up a high-density, smooth roller for use on any of the muscles in the body. This type of roller has less ‘bumps’ for trigger point and is best used for general soft issue massage work.

Grid surface foam roller

A step-up from your smooth roller is the type you’ll often see with a grid pattern of raised sections and smooth sections. This allows you to pause on tight spots for trigger-point release.

Raised-surface foam roller

More advanced roller users  may choose to go for a roller with a raised surface all over. Perhaps you’re so used to using the roller that the smooth surface just doesn’t do it for you anymore, and you need something that will really dig into those tight spots. Or maybe you want a funky looking roller to impress your non-sport mad buddies, either way this type of roller is not for the sports massage virgins out there.

What is a trigger point ball?

A fan of the foam roller and what to know what other torture devices are available to fuel your sadistic sports massage urges? Look no further than the trigger-point ball. This is normally in the form of a hard-as-nails lacrosse ball, but you can also find increasingly spiky variations if you really want a world of pain.  It’s in the name, but a trigger point ball is the foam roller’s smaller, more devious brother, and it packs quite a punch.

Check out our tips for a full break down on how to use your foam roller and the science behind how foam rolling aids muscle recovery. Here are five other tools that aid recovery

However we recommend you seek professional advice from a physio or doctor before using a foam roller for the first time, or using any new recovery tool, and if it’s painful stop and seek professional advice before continuing. It is always better to err on the side of caution. Stay aware and in-tune with what your body is telling you! 

If you are worried about any injuries, aches and pains always seek medical advice from a doctor or physiotherapist.


Top image by Unsplash/Andrew Donovan