See people at the gym massaging their legs and backs with foam rollers but never tried it yourself? Today’s the perfect time to give it a go: May 11 is National Foam Rolling Day (yes, there’s a holiday for everything).
Whether you’re a weekend warrior, a casual walker, or a couch surfer, there’s good reason you should take on the trend. Rolling on a foam cylinder or ball is like a free massage, and doing so loosens up your muscles and the surrounding fascia (a web of connective tissue that holds everything in place). This, in turn, helps your muscles move easier and in a bigger range of motion, lowers your chance of injury, and leaves you feeling relaxed. And it doesn’t take long at all—in fact, doing this self-massage for a mere two minutes is enough to increase your range of motion, according to recent research from the University of Newfoundland in Canada. Read on for some top tools to help you get rolling.
1. BEST FOR FIRST TIMERS: GOLD'S GYM 24-INCH ROLLER ($18.77)
Courtesy of Gold's Gym
Trying foam rolling for the first time? You can’t go wrong with this basic roller, which can be used to roll along any of the big muscle groups in your body. It’s not too dense or hard, so it won’t be too much pressure for newbies to use. Oh, and the price can’t be beat.
2. BEST FOR YOUR BACK: TRIGGERPOINT CORE FOAM ROLLER ($29.99)
Courtesy of TriggerPoint
This new offering comes in two sizes you’ll reach for all the time. The 36-inch option is the ideal length for lying across to release tightness in your thoracic spine, a.k.a. upper back—but it’s also great for massaging your quads, calves, and glutes, too. (Not firm enough for your taste? Try the brand's denser GRID X style to dig into muscles more deeply.)
3. BEST FOR DEEP KNOTS: SKLZ ACCUSTICK ($17.65)
Courtesy of SKLZ
Despite its appearance, this lightweight, curved bar isn't a tool to keep in your car's trunk—it's all you need to unwind the tightest spots in any muscle, even in tough-to-reach areas on your back and neck. Just position the ball on one end over the area that's bothering you and twist the bar around to work out the knot.
4. BEST FOR HANDS AND FEET: MELT METHOD HAND AND FOOT TREATMENT KIT ($49.99)
Courtesy of Melt
Big foam rollers work for your major muscle groups, but the smaller muscles in your hands and feet need teenier tools to help loosen them up. This kit, featuring several balls of various sizes, is tops for targeting these spots—but it works well to pinpoint tight knots on your back, neck, or anywhere else on your body too.
5. BEST FOR ACHES: SKLZ COLD ROLLER BALL ($37.17)
If you’re recovering from injury or just have some inflammation after a tough workout, a little cold therapy may be in order. Stick this tool in the freezer and then rub it along the ache; it’ll unwind any tightness in the muscle and reduce swelling at the same time.