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Premium EVA Foam Roller
This premium EVA foam roller is my top choice, as it provides the best overall blend of comfort, durability, and function.
Being 18 inches in length, it's wide enough to comfortably roll your spine and surrounding back muscles (as well as all of the tissues that surround your hips, thighs and lower legs). But it's also lightweight and maneuverable, so no worries about moving it around or even taking it with you when you're on the road.
I tried a few rollers that were smaller in diameter, but found that they didn't allow as much coverage, especially when it came to targeting muscles surrounding the trunk. In my experience, six inches is the ideal diameter for a foam roller.
There are rollers on the market that are made out of harder materials, but I found them to create discomfort when rolling areas that tend to be especially tight and sensitive, like the IT (iliotibial) band and axillary region.
The premium EVA foam material that makes up this roller provides a warm and comfortable surface to work on, and is also plenty firm enough to provide therapeutic massage to tight muscles, ligaments, and unhealthy fascia. I had it manufactured to my ideal specifications, including the best possible density for rolling all major muscle groups.
New to foam rolling?
The idea is simple enough: Using your own body weight and agility, you roll specific muscle groups against a firm foam roller to mimic a deep, gliding massage.
With a foam roller, you can control how much pressure you apply to the tissues that you're working on, and you can locate and focus on areas that are problematic.
I've long been a fan of soft tissue therapies like deep tissue massage, myofascial rolling, and active release technique (ART), and I continue to use and recommend these therapies in many situations. I think of foam rolling as the perfect adjunct to all such therapies. And because you can use a foam roller just about anywhere, you can experience terrific health gains in a relatively short period of time.
As I see it, the main benefits of foam rolling are as follows:
Improved blood circulation throughout your skin, fascia, muscles, and even tendons and ligaments where you can access them with a foam roller.
Through improved blood circulation, more efficient exchange of nutrients and waste products at a cellular level, leading to better overall cellular function and inter-cellular communication.
Lengthening of short (tight) muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Some muscles (like hip flexors) and ligaments (iliotibial band) are prone to shortening, and are difficult to effectively stretch and apply therapeutic pressure to using standard massage and trigger point therapy techniques. But with a foam roller, you can apply deep pressure massage to such areas and lengthen shortened tissues, thereby preventing physical imbalances that can predispose you to injury.
Promotion of optimal spinal range of motion. You can accomplish this by slowly rolling your spine against a foam roller and pausing whenever you feel restrictions to allow your joints and surrounding tissues to stretch.
When we experience physical health challenges like pain and stiffness around weight-bearing joints (hips, knees, and spinal joints), for many of us, the instinct is to get some sort of treatment - if not a conventional pain killer or some invasive surgical procedure, then at least some alternative therapy like acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, ultrasound, laser, or electrical stimulation.
A less obvious and often times more effective approach is to work at improving blood circulation around the problematic area through deep pressure work and dedicating oneself to stretching the muscles and ligaments around the affected joints.
Sometimes, short/tight muscles and ligaments are the root cause of a joint region becoming dysfunctional and producing pain and stiffness.
This is not to say that various therapies can't be helpful; they can usually help in some way, though to what degree, no one can know for sure.
My point is to consider addressing physical injuries and breakdowns with a dedicated program of soft tissue work and stretching - work that you do multiple times daily on your own. I'm finding more and more that actively working to address physical health challenges in this way can be the magic bullet that many often seek when they're physically distressed.
This makes sense, doesn't it? That you'll make more gains working on a problematic area several times a day than you will getting just one, two, or three treatment sessions per week. Of course, it may be ideal to have both going on when you have an injury, with the work you do on your own supporting the work of a skilled and experienced health practitioner.
Bottom line: foam rolling can be a huge part of any effective program of self-applied deep pressure work and stretching.
For comprehensive guidance in the form of still photos and video clips that show how to stretch and foam roll all of your major muscle groups in the ideal order, you might consider our DVD on stretching and foam rolling here: Stretching and Foam Rolling DVD
You can also browse through our archive on this topic here:
Stretching and Foam Rolling Archive
Here are some more photos of our custom made foam roller:
Please note: If you don't have experience with foam rolling, we recommend that you consider purchasing our Stretching and Foam Rolling DVD along with this custom made foam roller.
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