If you have not used a foam roller to massage tight muscles before, you might want to explore their ability to release muscle tension. When you use a foam roller, your body weight provides the pressure which releases tension in tight muscles on the back, legs and other body regions. These clever rollers can also be used during exercise to increase balance. There is a wide selection of rigidity, size, and shape available in foam rollers today, each designed for different tasks or body regions. Some foam rollers even have ridges which are excellent for trigger points or particularly hypertonic tissues.
If you are primarily interested in using a foam roller for releasing tension knots in your muscles, you probably should opt for a greater degree of firmness. However, if you are the type of person who doesn’t enjoy deep pressure when getting massages, you might want to opt for a softer roller. The more basic types of foam rollers are usually color coded according to firmness, with the following designations:
WHITE – The softest
BLUE or GREEN – Moderate density
BLACK – The firmest
If you are truly new to foam rolling, you might want to start with a white one, then switch up to a greater degree of firmness later. However, if you are like me and need a good amount of pressure to release muscle tension, the other colors will confer greater firmness and also will be more sturdy and durable. You should also select a firmer roller if you plan to use it often, and if you plan to lie on it frequently during exercise.
As for shape, you may choose a half-dome roller so that the roller will not roll out from under you, or you may choose a full-dome roller if you really want to manipulate tense tissues by rolling on it while using the weight of your body. If you plan to take a roller with you to the gym, pilates or yoga classes, you can purchase a roller which is shorter in length, perhaps 12 or 24 inches as opposed to the full 36 inch length which is most commonly seen.