The correct term for what we all know to be foam rolling is, ‘Self-myofascial release.’ This is an action by which an athlete can help release tight muscles from a self administrated deep tissue release. There are a range of different types of foam rollers which all aim to get deep into the muscles to help release them, some more effective than others.
With this Self-myofascial release, the idea is that you can personally control the areas of tightness which only you can feel, self administrating the massage to precisely where the pain is. This is why it is so good as you can get the benefits of a deep tissue massage quickly and exactly where you need it.
If you are ever down at a track or running event then you will almost certainly see many athletes with these muscle releasing devices. Personally, I am no different to any of these, owning a foam roller myself.
More Mile Beast Foam Roller
The amount of money which you can spend on these things now is pretty ridiculous. I have a More Mile Beast foam roller which is a great entry level roller, incorporating both raised and flexible blocks. I have used a range of other rollers too, including the more expensive Trigger Point roller. Personally, I feel that the differences in terms of being able to release specific points of tightness between a high end and entry level roller are very hard to detect.
Inevitably, over time the stiffness of these rollers will decrease. However, I see this as a good thing as the pain levels decrease and it is easier to maintain a longer massage.
The downside of this is that you have to apply greater levels of force to get the deep massages. For the best results I would try and do the rolling with a parter who pushes down on your legs whilst rolling to really get deep into the muscles.
The More Mile roller specifically is an all round great roller. Size wise, it fits in any normal rucksack and isn’t too heavy, making it very easy to take to and from events and training. In terms of actual results, I have been using mine for over a year now and it has been great at releasing muscles, matching any other roller on the market.
Types of Foam Roller
These different rollers are also better or worse for different types of rolling on various sections of your body. I found that rolling out your IT band is much easier using the more advanced Trigger Point roller due to it being more compact and less bumpy. Whilst saying this, the results from the More Mile roller will be equally good, just the process of actually doing the rolling may be found to be more tricky.
I have also found that the handheld rollers which act upon a axel system are no where near as effective. This is because the release of the muscles comes from the pressure applied when putting force against the roller itself. This means that the handheld rollers have to be pushed against the muscles instead of vice versa, resulting in a much less effective result. My advice would be to stick to the rollers which you have underneath your legs so you can administer the massage yourself.
You can also find other ways – other than an actual foam roller – to get right into the tight spots which are hard to reach, especially the gluten and hamstrings. To improvise, find a hard cricket ball or even a shit put which you can lean on and get deep into the muscle. For a less aggressive release, a tennis ball would work fine.