The use of the Foam Roller, either electric or manual, has become widespread in the last 10 years among professional athletes and physiotherapists, who make daily use of this product to obtain multiple muscular and joint benefits.
Although the manual roller was the first to become known, the model with vibrations has gained ground among people who make occasional use and those who are just looking for moments of relaxation after a stressful day. Whatever your reason for using this device, here’s everything you need to know about the massaging roller.
What is an vibrating Foam Roller and what kind of injuries can be treated with one?
Many label this product as a “miracle” product, offering relief from muscle pain and myofascial tension from the first application, but much of the benefit is due to the conscious use people make of it.
The Foam Roller is a self-massage device, made in one piece, usually of ABS plastic that is resistant to shock and body pressure, which it must be as it must bear much of the weight of the user. It works to allow the muscles and fascial tissue, which covers all the organs of the body, including the muscle fibres, to return to calm.
Nowadays, you can find this roller in a classic or manual model and an electric or vibrating model, which will amplify the benefits.
These are some of the injuries that can be treated:
- Plantar fasciitis: several studies claim that the roller can improve by 9% the various symptoms that people have when they suffer from plantar fasciitis, which includes irritation, inflammation and even tearing of this membrane located on the sole of the foot. The advantage with this product is that no complex routines are required to begin to feel relief.
- Headache: although the roller is not used directly on the skull, by stimulating the tissues in the neck, shoulders and back it allows you to reduce the headaches that often attack people. This is a condition often triggered by minor injuries to the cervical tissues.
- Leg swelling: there are several reasons for swelling in the lower limbs, but the massage roller improves fluid retention due to circulatory and lymphatic difficulties. This product creates bridges between the blocked channels in both systems, thus achieving better irrigation and reducing the swelling that greatly affects older adults.
- Lumbago or back pain: this is an ailment that affects people between 30 and 60 years of age, so it should not be ruled out that you have generalised pain in the lumbar area at any age, even if you do or do not do any sporting discipline. Massage eliminates muscle knots, discomfort due to stretching and fatigue during an intense day’s work. It does not require a lot of pressure for the discomfort due to this cause to disappear.
- Cervical pain or neck pain: Incorrect body positions often cause ligaments, tendons and vertebral discs to ache and eventually leave permanent pain in the neck and head. The best way to avoid neck pain is to offer high frequency massage with the massage roller, which helps to release muscle knots and myofascial tissues.
- Muscle contractures: these are quite common in athletes and people who lift weights or walk a lot in their jobs. It is due to a change in the intensity of the physical activity that will cause the muscles to fatigue until they give in to high tensions. For a better pleasurable effect, electric rollers are a better option.
- Reduction of oedemas: although the feet usually have more fluid retention, it is also possible that they appear in the hands and arms, so the Foam Roller will also have a positive effect on the lymphatic system to prevent swelling in these parts of the body. As with pain in the neck, it is important to start gently when reducing oedema in the hands.
What are the differences between an vibrating foam roller and a normal massage roller?
Neuromuscular massages, such as those offered by the Foam Roller, can be given with both stimulations via percussion and stimulations via friction, which is the most common form among conventional massage rollers.
Type of massage
Although they are almost identical products, the electrical quality of the roller means that percussion massage is added to the gliding and pressing routines that people must do if they wish to get relief from their ailments.
- Vibrating Foam Roller: offers the possibility of being used by any type of person, as long as they are aware that massages have a suggested time of use and a frequency that must be respected to avoid over-stimulation. Vibrations are a form of stimulation that seek to relax tensions in both muscles and fascia.
- Normal Foam Roller: on the other hand, conventional rollers use friction massage to generate a correct myofascial release, which is achieved when people perform routines of movements and body pressure on the product so that there is an increase in joint mobility or ROM, according to its acronym in English.
Mode and difficulty of use
If you wish, you can use both products in the same way. The only difference is that the new models offer different vibration intensities so that you can use the roller with or without gliding.
Using the product with vibration before doing the routines is one of the most recommended techniques to prepare the tissues for the more intense massages that you achieve when you apply body pressure. And if you are an athlete, the vibrations allow the muscles to return to calm, purifying the body of waste and avoiding subsequent contractures.
Effectiveness of the massage
You may be wondering which is the best roller for you. No doubt, you will know the answer when you clarify what type of use you will give it and what is the objective you wish to achieve.
When you are a professional athlete, a yoga or Pilates instructor and a physiotherapist, the best roller is undoubtedly the conventional roller because you have in your hands the possibility of giving it specific uses according to the areas of the body in order to soothe pain and protect the joints.
If you are a busier person because of your work, then the most recommended option is the electric roller because with the vibrations you will achieve the relaxation you are looking for and, at the same time, you will be able to do professional routines with displacements and vibrations at the same time.
Types of ailments to be treated
One thing that should be clear is that with both products you get the same benefits on myofascial tissue and muscles. You also get to regulate body temperature, increase blood flow and relieve stress.
Remember that with the Foam Roller you are treating minor physical and soft tissue injuries, so it is not recommended to use this product directly on bony structures, such as joints and vertebrae, as this can alter the range of mobility in these parts of people.
Many of the circulatory problems are due to diseases such as aneurysm, arteriosclerosis and blood clots, these are conditions that should not be treated with the massage roller, unless recommended by a medical specialist.
Here is a list of some contraindications to be aware of:
- Recent and intense injuries.
- Skin wounds.
- Fractures, sprains and dislocations.
- Fibromyalgia and chronic pain conditions.
- High-risk pregnancies.
- With skin infections.
- Bone protrusions.
- Fever or severe malaise.
The use of the massage roller will cause the body to become exhausted, which is convenient if the person is healthy, but if patients have some of these conditions, it is not recommended to undergo this type of massage.
Depending on the brands, the size, the materials and whether the roller is electric or not, the price of these massaging products will vary according to all these values, which will define the perfect model for you.
Paying for a second-hand product is only a guarantee that you will soon have to invest in a new roller that meets your needs and demands, so it is advisable to make a smart investment that will last a lifetime, unless you wish to have a newer roller.
A quality Foam Roller should not be flexible, nor should it bend under the weight of the body, these are details that you should know before making the final purchase of the product.
What are the main alternatives to vibrating and manual massage rollers for pain relief?
Well, if you want to relax your body, achieve myofascial release and eliminate muscle knots, the Foam Roller is an excellent product, but it is not the only one. Check out this list of the electric and manual massagers available on this website.
- Electric foot massager: unlike rollers, the strength of these massagers is not myofascial release, but a good rest is achieved by increasing the temperature and friction of rotating heads to stimulate the soles of the feet.
- Electric neck and shoulder massager: this is a massager that uses heat and rotating heads to keep the tissues in the neck and back from tightening and causing cervical and head pain. They come with a function that controls the massage time.
- Massage hook: is a plastic product for manual use, which has between nine and eleven stimulating tips that directly reach the most frequent trigger points where there is muscular discomfort. You can use it on the back, neck, legs and lower back in particular.
- Massage balls: like the roller, this product comes with a manual and classic model, and a model that offers vibrations in various intensities. In order to stimulate correctly, routines with gliding and body pressure are required. The massaging balls reach hard-to-reach areas such as the back and the back of the thighs.
- Manual Massager Roll On: this is a product for use by people with little experience in myofascial releases, it has several levels of vibrations to calibrate the depth of stimulation according to the part of the body where there is greater or lesser sensitivity. It fits in the palm of your hand so you can place this product where you need attention.
- Percussion massage gun: this is also a product that comes in two sizes, the smaller one is for domestic use and the larger one is for professional use with interchangeable heads, necessary for you to stimulate your back without touching the vertebrae, which cannot be massaged. The main advantage of the gun is that it eliminates muscle pain in a short time.
- Acupressure mat: the mat becomes a massage tool when you practice yoga or pilates on it. It has thousands of lotus flowers made of hypoallergenic plastic, which are actually stimulators that increase blood flow and control the dilation of vessels and veins.
- Massage chair: this is a massager that you can place on the sofa, a regular chair and on the seat of your car. You can receive relaxing massages while doing other activities. It is one of the most popular products for people who need to stay active, but don’t have time to go to the gym or do massage sessions at home.
- Massage cushion: it is a perfect complement for those who tend to have muscular ailments in the neck, which trigger migraines and sleeping problems. Contrary to what you may think, it is not recommended that you fall asleep using this cushion, in the form of a pillow, because there would be unnecessary additional stimulation.