Foam rollers have become one of the most popular athletic training tools of all time, yet with so many options on the market, it can be difficult (and slightly overwhelming) to figure out which type is best to purchase.
“Trying to decide which foam roller is best for you isn’t as easy as you might think, but it’s important,” says Josh Crane, Staff Writer at OPTP. “Choosing the right roller will help ensure effectiveness, usability, and compliance.”
To ease the process, Crane identifies three simple steps all athletic trainers can take when determining which foam roller will best address the needs of their athletes:
“Arguably the most important choice to make regarding your new foam roller is the density. You might also hear this referred to as the compression, firmness, cushion or ‘give,’” says Crane. “Generally, rollers can be broken down into three density categories: soft, medium, or firm.”
According to Crane, soft density rollers have the most amount of “give” and are intended for those seeking comfort. Meanwhile, medium density rollers possess what Crane describes as a “universal quality” that serves both self-massage and exercise purposes.
However, the firm category is meant for a deeper, more intense massage, making it the ideal choice of athletic trainers. “Athletes and highly active individuals have tight muscles that can benefit from the penetrating nature of these rollers,” says Crane. “Firm rollers are great at breaking up even the most constricted fascia, a process known as myofascial release.”
Size and Shape
With many sizes of foam rollers on the market, it can be even more difficult to choose the one most suited for an athletic trainer’s specific needs. Rollers with smaller diameters are ideal for physical therapy patients since they are lower to the ground and offer more stability, while taller versions add an enhanced set of tools to an athletic trainer’s box.
While OPTP offers a complete line of varying measurements, one smaller product that has quickly become a favorite of athletic trainers everywhere is the OPTP MicroRoll, an easily portable foam roller. “In addition to the benefit of portability, they also make it easier to target certain muscle groups,” says Crane. “The shorter rollers are ideal for targeting more precise areas such as calves, IT bands or glutes.”
OPTP also offers uniquely designed rollers that feature ridges, bumps, and points for a deeper penetrating massage, which “breaks up fascia in even the most tight, compact areas,” according to Crane.
OPTP’s extensive line of foam rollers is manufactured from the highest quality materials available. “Closed-cell foam rollers offer the durability you expect from a foam roller and are available in two types of foam: EPP and EVA,” says Crane.
Crane explains that rollers constructed from EPP foam beads are “high quality but still relatively inexpensive,” while rollers made from EVA foam “deliver unmatched durability.” Both offer a winning combination of durability and affordability and can be used in various situations.
Crane specifically recommends against open-cell rollers, which break down much quicker than closed-cell rollers. “Not all foam is created equal,” warns Crane. “The way it is constructed helps determine its longevity—and primary location of use—important considerations to make before purchase.”
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