Soft Foam Roller

If we’ve ever been to a commercial gym, we’ve seen it. The rolls of foam that people are massaging their bodies on. Gliding back and forth on top of these rollers in an almost mechanical fashion.

And we see them in different sizes, colors, and even shapes. Although they’re mostly in the cylinder shape, the ones called Rumbleroller have an uneven surface with bumps all over it. Mostly we see the typically black or white rollers.

In this day and age, it’s no secret that foam rollers helps relieve muscle soreness, tight areas, and speed up recovery from workouts. It’s more than just another fitness craze that’s been going around.

As with all things having to do with fitness, it’s my job to give you guys the scoop on things like this. And even more importantly, I’ll be addressing a question that a lot of us have: Is a hard roller better or a soft one?

Just a little research shows there’s no shortage of opinions on this. We have the extremes where some advocate hard rollers are the ONLY way to go or that soft rollers are the only fitness tool you’ll ever need in life.

Before we dive into dissecting the answer, let’s see some of the benefits of foam rolling in general and how they can be applied. This will actually help us arrive at the answer in a logical way.

Benefits Of Foam Rolling


If you’ve ever rolled on a foam roller before, you can probably attest to the benefits of using a foam roller. And no, as much as some say the pain is good, I personally don’t categorize that as a benefit in this case.

But foam roller induces similar effects as a deep tissue massage, where we work out the kinks and knots deep within our muscles. As long as it’s done properly, foam rolling provides the following benefits:

  1. Blood flow to area for faster recovery
  2. Removal of waste products in area
  3. Loosen tight, tensed, and knotted muscles, contributing to mobility and flexibility
  4. Hydrates and massages the fascia
  5. Promotes proper lymphatic fluid flow

These sound great and all (and it is), but if we hit a very tender area that’s tight or hasn’t been loosened in a while, it can be pretty painful.

And that’s the reason why some are so gung-ho on the harder rollers. Also the reason why those same people associate the pain with a good massage.

They aren’t necessarily wrong. I personally have benefited greatly from foam rolling. I have a PVC pipe at home that I use. It doesn’t get any harder than that since it has NO give when I roll on top of it.

PVC Pipe
Nothing Harder Than A PVC Pipe To Roll On

But there’s a case to be made for soft rollers as well. And the evidence backing that up has to do with why hard rollers aren’t the best choice all of the time. They have to do mostly with point 4 and 5 we stated above.

Before we get into that however, let’s see how foam rolling can be used in different parts of our workouts, and even just for health purposes in general.

>>Check Out The Best Foam Roller Available On The Market<<

Warm-Up

Foam rolling is a great way to warm up our bodies for working out or any other physical activity. The increased blood flow and loosening of muscles are definite must’s for anyone’s warm-up routine.

This prevents us from injury and is a great way to prime our bodies for the upcoming activities.

Personally, I’ve experienced plenty of anecdotal evidence where foam rolling increased my performance by a WHOLE lot.

There was one time that I didn’t feel like warming up because I was being lazy. I did a couple dynamic stretches and that was it. No warm-up sets, just went straight into heavy squats.

I was lucky I didn’t get injured. But this experience did teach me something.

I couldn’t squat nearly as heavy as I usually could for my working sets. I’d say I was at about 75-80% of the weight I can usually handle. But after a few sets, something magical happened.

Out of nowhere, after my rest period from the 3rd or 4th set, I lifted the bar out from the racks with ease. It will 100 pounds lighter for some reason. The squats were super easy for that set compared to the last few.

I was back up to my regular working weight on the next set, but it still felt a bit heavier than usual.

And then it hit me. The first few sets served as a warm-up set for me. But I didn’t properly warm-up so the weight still felt like a ton of bricks compared to normal.

That experience stuck with me because I usually include some foam rolling in my warm-up routine. I skipped that and warm-up sets too and thankfully wasn’t injured. But I paid the price with a crappy workout.

Imagine if it was a sprint workout or is I was to do something more dynamic than squatting. My risk of injury there would’ve been a lot higher without warming up. And using the foam roller in those cases would’ve gave me the mobility to workout safely.

Post-Workout

After a tough workout session or anything exhausting like the Spartan Race, our bodies are inflamed from the punishment. We feel this in the form of soreness, aches, and general tightness in certain areas.

Foam rolling these areas may smart a bit, especially if we use the harder rollers. But it’s important that we work out the kinks and knots in our tissues.

Getting the blood flow into the areas we worked and removing the waste product buildup helps remove speed up recovery big time.

Just like the warm-up primes our bodies for exercise, the post-workout cool-down is like a warm-up for going about our normal routine after the workout.

Using foam rolling as part of the cool-down phase of our workout gives us all those benefits, and it’s the perfect transition from working out our muscles by relaxing and massaging them.

Mobility Maintenance

Maybe we don’t workout very often, or we don’t get involved in any strenuous or hard workouts. Foam rolling is still a great way to keep our bodies both nimble and mobile.

We all know how important our mobility and flexibility are. And we also know that if we never ever stretch our muscles, tendons, and other tissues, we’d eventually become as stiff as a rock, with ranges of motion and flexibility that even a turtle would be ashamed of.

So even if we’re not fitness junkies, foam rolling is a great way to keep our bodies healthy. Promoting blood flow and massaging different muscles aren’t exclusive to athletes only. Anyone can should enjoy those pleasures of life.

Choosing Your Roller-Hard Or Soft?


So here we are, the question we’ve been waiting to answer. Some of us might even wonder if it really matters all that much. Well, it does.

Just from the feel of rolling on a hard roller vs. a soft one, we can tell the difference right away.

In order to decide whether a hard roller is better or if we should go with a soft one, we just need to answer one simple question.

What is the purpose of my foam rolling?

Let’s go over the benefits of foam rolling again:

  1. Blood flow to area for faster recovery
  2. Removal of waste products in area
  3. Loosen tight, tensed, and knotted muscles, contributing to mobility and flexibility
  4. Hydrates and massages the fascia
  5. Promotes proper lymphatic fluid flow

If all you’re looking for is the first 3 benefits, then a simple hard roller will suffice. They are the most common and are very easy to find in fitness equipment stores. You can get one for pretty cheap here.

Maybe that one doesn’t work out the muscle knots enough for you? Or if you’re looking for something with a bit more oomph to it, then check out this triggerpoint roller that comes with a free instructional video. Its uneven surfaces helps with hitting certain points in the body known as triggerpoints, which relieve pain caused by tightness.

But if you’re looking for something that can address points 4 and 5, then you need something a bit different…

OPTP PRO Roller

This roller is by far the best foam roller I’ve ever came across. It’s a soft density roller that not only relieves sore muscles and promotes mobility, but it gently massages the fascia so it gets proper hydration and removal of waste products.

I often use this before rolling on my PVC pipe. And when I do, I feel that I only need to use the PVC pipe for a few passes and I’m all set.

I don’t want to bore you guys with the science and everything else here. A book called The MELT Method written by Sue Hitzmann explains this concept in depth. That book goes into detail not only on why a soft roller works, but how to use it on different areas for the best effects.

You can check out the book here.

One thing that I do NOT recommend though is the roller that Sue promotes to be the only one that can work with her book. The integrity of the roller is subpar, and it ends up tearing and ripping too easily.

The OPTP PRO Roller works perfectly with the exercises explained in Sue’s book. I have no trouble with the longevity of the roller and I feel the effects even more so when I used the expensive $70 soft roller recommended by Sue!

But the OPTP PRO roller costs about half that, and it works even better!

Don’t believe me? Check out what everyone’s saying about this roller.

Made your mind? Ready to take your health and physical fitness to the next level? Get your own OPTP PRO roller:

Stay healthy,

-Wing

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Written by 

I've just started getting serious about health and fitness around 2014. Since then I've learned the insider info on how to optimize athletic performance and healthy living through both nutrition and proper training. The most important thing I've discovered however, is the connection between the mindset of those that excel in athletics, and those that succeed in their life pursuits. I've spent the last couple years observing and drawing these connections and similarities, finally created a platform to share with you all what I've found, and how to apply them in your own life to get similar results.

10 thoughts on “Foam Roller- Hard Or Soft?

  1. Hi Wing, thank for this very informative product review. I have used rollers a few times but haven’t really been comfortable on them and didn’t feel that they were doing the job they advertised. I find using a hard ball, around the size of a tennis ball as a more effective tool to massage muscles and reduce soreness after training. Also it really does great work on knotted muscles so I have been using it more regularly.

    1. Manny,

      Yes a massage ball like a lacrosse ball is a great choice for relieving muscle knots. They do a lot in terms of working out the kinks along sore muscles. For fascia hydration and lymphatic fluid flow, I found the soft roller to be second to none.

      -Wing

  2. Hi Wing,

    I must be honest, I didn;t realise that foam rollers provided so many benefits!

    To be honest it sounds as though I need both a hard and soft foam rollers, as I need to be able to achieve all of the benefits of both!

    The OPTP PRO Roller sounds as though it worth looking at, I’ll check it out!

  3. Wing that is a fantastic site. Your content is delivered professionally and the linked articles are great. You end up reading the stories in your articles on life in particular. I have used both hard and soft rollers usually after running and prefer the hard surfaces.

    I also like your about me page. You made your story inspiring and interesting holding the readers attention.

    Very good job and good luck to you!

    1. Dave,

      Thank you! I’m glad you got a chance to read the other articles as well. Hope they were as informative and beneficial to you as this one.

      -Wing

  4. I have never used a foam roller. I am a high school math teacher and on my feet all day in dress shoes. I am constantly looking for better shoes so that my feet won’t hurt as badly. I spend hundreds of dollars per year. I am wondering if using a roller on my feet at the end of the day would help? Would these foam rollers help with feet?

    1. Wendy,

      In your case, I would recommend using a massage ball on the bottom of your feet and icing your ankles when you rest. Simply roll a ball like this one under your feet and apply as much pressure as needed to feel it “hurt so good”. This will alleviate a lot of the pain from muscle knots and stuck tissues by “ungluing” them. Do that for as much as you can bear at first and eventually, the pain will subside.

      You should notice significant improvement after the first few times doing this.

      It’s also a good idea to keep you feet elevated when you sleep, A pillow or two under the lower legs does the trick.

      -Wing

  5. Hi there,

    I myself, personally have never used this before even though I work out on a daily basis. I have seen people bring them to gyms and whatnot, and to be honest you’re definitely right when you say it’s practically a medical procedure because that’s what I thought people were using it for, haha!

    Just for curiosity I’ll have to pick one of these up!

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