Foam Rollers For Beginners – Which To Buy And How To Use

Foam roller exercises

Foam rolling is a technique that can relieve muscle tension, reduce soreness and reduce back pain. Despite the awkward and uncomfortable positions, foam rolling is the perfect addition to a warm up or cool down to ensure muscles repair properly. DOSE has the ultimate foam rollers for beginners guide, from how to use them to which ones to buy, look no further.

What is a foam roller and why should I use one?

Foam rolling is a technique used to massage muscles to release tightness or tension. Using a foam roller for 20-30 seconds on each muscle can help to reduce muscle soreness, increase flexibility and range of motion. A perfect tool for any fitness junky or fitness newbie.

Foam rollers for beginners

The benefits of a foam roller and why you should add it to your routine

One study found that consistent use of a foam roller decreased muscle tenderness, and concluded that foam rolling can benefit individuals seeking a recovery process that is relatively affordable, easy to perform, time efficient and that enhances muscle recovery.

Reduce muscle soreness

A study found that consistent use of a foam roller reduced muscle soreness in participants.  So no more aches and pains walking up the stairs or picking something up.

Improve flexibility and range of motion

While foam rolling is mainly used to reduce muscle soreness, it can also increase muscle flexibility. Pair foam rolling with the usual static stretches or yoga and you’ve got the perfect combo. The ideal rest day activity.

Cost effective

Foam rollers are seen to be the equivalent of a sports massage. Although the experience may not be as relaxing as a spa day. Foam rollers are an affordable and easy way to get the benefits at home.

Decrease injury risk

Massaging your muscles using a foam roller increases blood flow throughout the body. This increased blood flow can support your muscles range of motion and therefore reduce the risk of injury during activities such as running or weight lifting.

Tips to start foam rolling

Foam rollers for beginners can be confusing. If this is the beginning of your foam roller journey there are a few things you need to know. Our essential foam roller beginner tips include knowing which foam roller is for you, going slow, incorporating it with other post workout stretches and avoiding your lower back. See below for more detail.

Choose the right one

Although foam rollers mostly look the same and do the same thing. The surfaces slightly differ. From soft to extremely rough, their surfaces can have different effects on your muscles. If you’re starting out I recommend starting with a soft foam roller. See below for some of our recommended soft foam rollers.

Slow rolling is best

‘Many make the mistake of rolling over muscles too quickly.  To roll correctly, you should move no more than one inch per second. By moving slowly, you give your muscles time to adapt and relax with the pressure’, says Michael Gleiber, MD.

Use post workout for best results

After you’ve smashed out that Peloton 30 min HIIT ride and you’re feeling on top of the world (or like you need a glass of wine), bring out the foam roller and incorporate it into your cool down. The gradual pressure on muscle tissue will help the nervous system recover, flush out lymphatic pooling, drive fresh, nutrient-rich blood to local areas, and leaving feeling like you can work out even harder the next day.

Know when to stop

Although foam rollers are a magic weapon for muscle recovery. They shouldn’t be used alone or too much. Don’t replace static stretching with foam rolling. Ideally, they should be done together for the best results.

Avoid your lower back

Michael Gleiber, MD, suggest ‘you should never use a foam roller directly on the lower back. It is fine to use a foam roller on the upper back, because the shoulder blades and muscles in the upper back will protect the spine. There are no structures in the lower back that can help to protect your spine from the pressure.’

Foam rollers for beginners

Foam roller stretches for beginners

Do these exercises with control and slowly. If it starts to hurt too much, stop. Your foam roller isn’t a tool used for fast paced exercises or motions. Use it slowly, focusing on each muscle for 20-30 seconds.

Foam roller stretch for upper back and shoulders

Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor, with the roller under your upper back/shoulder area. Place your hands behind your head and walk your feet back slowly. Repeat back and forth 10-15 times, remembering to keep your neck relaxed, head up and avoid your lower back.

Foam roller stretch for quads

With all this time spent sat at our desk, our quads don’t get extended enough and might need some more TLC. Foam rolling can give them the love and attention they need. Position yourself in a forearm plank position, place the roller at the top of your thighs and roll down until just above your knee. Repeat rolling up and down your quads slowly for 20-30 seconds.

Foam roller stretch for side quads

For the side quads, get into a side plank position and repeat the same as you did for your quads. Remember to go slowly and stop just above your knee.

If you’re a foam roller beginner and need some more guidance, watch the below video for a low intensity at home foam roller practice.

The different types of foam rollers for beginners

Foam rollers differ in their surface, size and firmness. Longer rollers are better for bigger body areas such as back. While smaller rollers work better for arms and lower legs.

The surfaces of foam rollers are sometimes designed to imitate different parts of the hand in order to replicate a sports massage. High nobbles reflect fingertips and flatter parts simulate palms. For beginners its best to choose a soft roller whereas a trigger foam roller is better for more intense muscle massages. If you find a soft roller too mild, move to a trigger roller.

Best foam rollers to buy for beginners

Whether you’ve just finished a HIIT class or a slow yoga session, there’s a foam roller for you. They range is sizes, firmness, surfaces and shapes, so you can get rid of all of your aches and pains.

Maximo Fitness Foam Roller, £14.97 

This is a medium density foam roller, ideal for getting deep into the muscles without too much discomfort. With its textured surface it can provide a more comfortable massage perfect for beginners.

Buy here

Foam roller for beginners

Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller, £38.48

Trigger point foam rollers give a more intense massage than most beginner foam rollers. So if you’re looking for a step up, this is a great choice.

Buy here

Trigger point foam roller

Nike recovery foam roller

This is a great option for foam roller beginners who don’t need an intense massage.  The perfect size for back, arms and legs. This Nike roller is a great place to start.

Buy here

Nike foam roller - great for beginners

2-in-1 Muscle Foam Roller Set, £20.39

If you want the choice of an intense massage and a more relaxing post workout cool down. This 2-in-1 set is for you. Including a soft foam roller for a less intense experience and a trigger foam roller for more pressure; it also includes two small ball rollers to work on smaller parts of your body.

Buy here

Foam roller beginner set

The great thing about foam rollers is that you don’t need to spend long on each muscle to feel the benefits. Just 20-30 seconds on each muscle will do the job.

If you enjoyed this foam roller guide for beginners and want to find out more about foam rollers and other muscle recovery options, read power plate vs foam roller: which is better for recovery?

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What are the benefits of using foam rollers?

Foam rollers can help improve flexibility, reduce muscle soreness, and increase blood flow to muscles.

How do I choose the right foam roller?

Choose a foam roller with a density that matches your needs and preferences. Softer rollers are better for beginners, while firmer rollers are better for experienced users.

How do I use a foam roller?

Place the foam roller under the targeted muscle group and use your body weight to apply pressure. Roll slowly back and forth, pausing on any tender spots.

Are there any precautions I should take when using a foam roller?

Avoid rolling over bony areas or joints, and do not use a foam roller if you have an injury or medical condition without consulting a healthcare professional.

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