Self-Myofascial Release – Products (Part 2)

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There are factors you need to bear in mind when choosing a foam roller and product density is very important. If the foam is too soft, less than adequate tissue massage is applied but, if the foam is too hard, bruising can occur. The last thing you want to do is worsen any soft-tissue trauma which could lead to decreased performance and inflammation. It is also dangerously easy to spend far more than you need to since there is a wealth of products on the market. Choose a product you think will suit you best and one that comes within your budget.

1. The Original Foam Roller (from £8)

With different colours to signify different densities (hardness), there is a foam roller for everyone. White tends to be the softest, black the firmest and they come in 18” or 36” lengths. If you’re new to Self-Myofascial Release, the orginal roller is a good place to start and is not an expensive investment. The pressure of a foam roller is very broad and softer overall making it the perfect entry level option. The downsides: the length of each roller make them difficult to transport, and their longevity is not great either.

2. PVC Roller (from £15)

The next generation of foam roller. Once you’ve become accustomed to the foam roller, you’ll need something firmer to continue with the benefits of SMR. These products are just a piece of PVC with something wrapped around it to prevent you sliding. The higher density will provide a more aggressive SMR experience which is not to be feared! Rather it will get deeper into the trigger points with ultimately better results.

3. Triggerpoint GRID Roller (approx. £30)

With a diameter of only 5inches, this product is more targeted than your average roller. The three-dimensional surface allows tissue to aerate while you roll which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen which are the nutrients needed to repair muscles. The grid rollers are revolutionary because they have what had been lacking from SMR: accuracy. The bumps and grooves imitate the specific digging pressure of a masseuse. The contours deal with different types of tissue, including muscle, tendon and bone. Since these rollers are hollow and wrapped in EVA foam, they are harder than the traditional model but such a design makes them environmental friendly and travel-friendly. Alongside Trigger products there is an online resource to provide the user with info, truly explaining the process. Best for quads and hamstrings.

4. The Rumble Roller (approx. £45)

A slightly more tortuous version of the Grid Roller! If you’re an SMR connoisseur, there is no better product on the market. With more raised bumps, no trigger point will be left untouched and if you’re just starting out, do not begin here! In order for SMR to work, you need to relax your muscles and the uncomfortable intrusions of the Rumble Roller will not encourage a beginner to do just that. They’re also very durable with a built in anti-microbial agent that keeps them hygienic.

5. Balls

Typically used on smaller muscle groups, balls allow you to reach areas that cannot be accessed with a roller. They come in different sizes and densities and work best on feet, calves, shoulders, glutes and lower back. Here is a quick summary of the different ones on offer:
• Golf ball – firm, precise, good for feet, size makes it difficult to apply pressure when moving around
• Tennis ball – perfect for entry level, pressure is limited by the amount of give, good for shoulders, glutes and back because it puts enough distance between your body and the ground. You can also tape two tennis balls together and use the joined product to go up the columns of muscles that run right beside the spine. The spine sits in the groove between the two taped balls – its perfect!
• Softball – firm, pressure not as precise as tennis ball because its diameter is bigger, more useable on areas like quads, hamstrings and pecs, cheap and versatile
• Medicine ball – different sizes and densitites again, specific use areas such including pecs and the front side of shoulders

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