* Prices may differ from that shown
I recently suffered from injuries to my calf muscles (caused a little by running too much on hard surfaces) and in the mornings my lower legs would be particularly stiff and sore. I discussed my issue and concerns with a Physio friend of mine, who mentioned that I might benefit from doing some gentle massages and stretches to my calf muscles using a large foam roller. Having never heard of this roller before, I looked on Amazon and came across these 66Fit versions which seemed to be getting a lot of good reviews, and thought that they might be what to go for.
They seem to come in 2 different lengths - 45 cm and 90 cm. I finally went for the longer version for just over £20 (around £13 for the shorter version) because I also have some lower back issues. I am also quite tall, in fact very tall, and sitting in a standard sized office chair or in a car seat for long periods really does play havoc with my lower back (Mr Average has got a lot to answer for when I get hold of him!!). So I thought that this idea of using the roller to massage and stretch my calf muscles might also be beneficial to stretching and massaging my lower back area as well. Hence I went for the longer roll to cover across my back with ease, as well as being able to use it on my calf muscles.
The roller itself is in the form of a long solid cylinder measuring 15cm diameter by 90cm long, and is made from a high density polyethylene foam as a one piece construction. For those interested in the density factor, it is quoted as being 750g nominal density, which basically means it is quite hard and won't deform under extensive usage. My Physio friend actually swears by these things, because they are used extensively for rehabilitation and general physiotherapy with patients, and hence it has a sort of high level endorsement by the medical profession for use.
What is it meant to do? The idea is that you roll the affected area back and forth across the roller. This process is then meant to stretch that area through massage, also helping to increase the flexibility and circulation to the area. Primarily used to treat areas of soreness or pain, it can also be used as a general aid to increase the overall flexibility of the body. Hence, you will also see them being used in palates, yoga and fitness classes. One particular area where they seem to have great success is with the treatment of Iliotibial band syndrome, which is a common injury to the thigh for runners where the tissue running along the outside of the thigh suffers from superficial thickening, causing instability in the knee during running and hence, causing pain in that area.
Does it work? Well for me, yes it does. For my calf muscles, I can roll my legs back and forth with ease on the roller, but there are times when I would just like to have a little more pressure from the roller into my muscles. Using the weight of my leg alone doesn't achieve this, and that is not really a fault of the roller. However, if I get my wife or kids to gently push down on my leg as I roll, it forces the roller into my calf muscle a little further, and that achieves the desired effect by massaging and easing the stiffness. In terms of my back, well that is a whole new ball game. When I sit in a chair or a seat for a long time, my lower back gets tight and strained. Rolling my lower back across this roller on the floor stretches my back and spine the other way, easing the tightness and gradually stretching and easing the muscles. To be honest, it is quite an enjoyable experience to feel that easing and flexing taking place, and it is quite interesting to see how much of an impact using this roller is having on me.
I've had this roller for about 4 months now, using it about 3 times a week. The issue with my calf muscles seemed to clear up after about 2 months, but I carried on using it on my lower back because I was finding that I was generally getting a lot more flexible in my back movement. I think what I was finding before was a gradual build up of tension through the week through a progression of sitting in office chairs and car seats for long durations during the week. As one day rolled into the next, the 'damage' done on the first day was compounded by a repeating of the process on the next day and so on. Hence, by the end of the week, I was wrecked. Using this roller every couple of days allowed that tension and damage to my lower back to be alleviated, and hence the problem of pain and discomfort was considerably eased with regular use.
In summary, what was initially suggested to me in a passing comment has now turned into a mainstay item that gets regular use by myself to very successfully ease my back problems. It's easy to use and seems to be durable enough to last a long while yet. Hence, a 5* recommendation.
Review also on Ciao under Randal1.
**Why do you have one?
I have recently a) discovered a joy of exercise and b) undertaken too much too soon and broken bones in my foot! My lovely friends have been visiting me house bound and bringing me lovely presents such as sticker books; tartan leg rugs and mini rocking chairs..... who needs enemies?! However, among my lovely friends is a physio who was worried about the amount of calf cramp I was getting when my plaster eventually came off - and she brought me this:
**What is it?
The 66fit Elite Foam Roller is a high density piece of blue foam shaped into a solid tube-like shape. It measures 15cm x 90cm (6" x 36"). Apparently a lot of rollers on the market are made from 2 pieces of foam - an inner and outer layer but these are more prone to denting or mis-shaping.
**What do you do with it?
Roll! I personally use it to roll my calf muscles along to stimulate the circulation and strengthen the muscle. It is apparently very useful for Iliotibial band syndrome and is used by many runners to warm up and down the leg muscles.
The deep blue colour is attractive and does entice you to use it. Because it is sturdy it stands easily in the corner of a room without taking up too much space. As far as useability is concerned, mine came with some useful instructions and there are lots of useful physio sites to help get the most of it.
It's not what you might describe as "comfortable" to use but it really does hit the spot!
Online prices appear to be between £10 and £15.
Despite the gloomy newspaper headlines about the obesity epidemic, most people I see get some form of exercise every day. With this we all know about the dreadul aches and pains that can follow the next day. Thankfully there exists a device, though painful, which can help alleviate some of these woes! Enter the Foam Roller!
I was first introduced to the foam roller by a friend of mine who works as a personal trainer, he swore by them and told me I'd never go back after using them. So I gave in and ordered teh 66Fit Elite Foam Roller. I didn't know what to expect but I was still surprised when a 45cm length of blue foam arrived in my porch, to be honest, the postman was a bit confused too!
The roller itself is made of a firm blue foam and is cylindrical in shape. It measures roughly 8 inches in diameter and is 45 cm long. With these slender dimensions you can easily stow it away atop your wardrobe or under the desk. Or in the attic if you don't feel like using it again!
A foam roller is based on the principle that after exercising your muscles form small pockets of scar tissue and adhere to the overlying fascia. Subsequently you get pain the next day as your muscles are stuck to various pieces of connective tissue and can't move as well as normal. Lying on a foam roller and moving around on it is supposed to break up these pieces of scar tissue and keep your muscles supple and stretchy. As with anything however, there is a catch. Foam rolling hurts, and hurts a lot. Rolling on your thoracic spine for the very first time is an enlightening experience and you'll realise just how tight you were before you bought it! Over time the pain reduces and you'll begin to see some real benefits in terms of reduced muscle pain and tightness the following day. I use mine on my legs and back after a long day standing in surgery, a method which has kept me going despite the 12 hour days!
The blue foam is quite hard wearing and should last the casual user a long time, avoid their white counterparts as these break down far too easily. Also, look around at Physio supply companies for the best price, it's not always in the local sports shop.
Overall a foam roller is a great investment and should see you reduce your muscle pain and tightness. Just remember to actually use it and not just leave it on top of the closet!
For many years now I've used a Foam Roller on certain muscles in my body. Having Hypermobility Syndrome and Fibromyalgia means my muscles are frankly a mess from head to toe with trigger points and tight areas where they are attempting to help my faulty ligaments, and this just adds to my daily levels of pain and fatigue so the solution is to use whatever works best to roll some of those knots out. Until recently I had the bog standard white Foam Roller but one day I noticed it had a large dent in the middle where my leg normally rests when I do my IT Bands (outer thigh) and realised it was time to invest in a new one.
The white ones are fine to use especially if you're just starting out on one but the blue Foam Roller I am reviewing is much harder and won't dent like the white one. I bought mine from Amazon for £13.99 which is a bargain for all the years use I'll get out of it. It won't last forever but it should outlast the white one.
This Foam Roller is made by 66Fit and measures 45cm in length and 15cm in width. That means if you are a particularly large person it may not be wide enough for you but as I'm not it suits me fine. I can get both my legs resting on the roller with room to spare and because it isn't huge it's much easier to store tidily too.
The material is basically foam, but it's high density foam so much more solid than other types. It also boasts being one complete piece rather than 2 pieces stuck together which of course makes it even stronger and resistant to pressure. It's very firm and doesn't give even when you lay your entire weight on it.
So what can you do with a Foam Roller? They are ideal for the tight areas in the thoracic spine, I roll slowly on mine each day and let the vertebrae crunch and pop their way free, bliss! They work well on the quads on the front of the thigh, the adductors on the inner thigh, the IT Bands on the outer thigh and you can get a degree of hamstring release from them on the back of the thigh. The idea is you rest on the Foam Roller on the area you're aiming to treat and let the muscle relax onto it before slowly, and I mean slowly, rolling over knots until you reach the end of the muscle. If you want to use these for balance you can either lay the Foam Roller lengthways down your back while you do Pilates style exercises or use them to stand on while you do movements, but that's advanced stuff!
What can't you do with a Foam Roller? You shouldn't roll your lumbar spine or neck on one of these, nor should you go anywhere near the lowest ribs which crack easily. They don't work well on the glutes (bum) or hip rotators (under the glutes) because they just aren't precise enough. The position required to reach the lats (attaching arms to ribcage) is a bit tricky so some people will be able to do this and others won't. I can't or I dislocate my hypermobile shoulders! While you can suspend yourself over the Foam Roller to attack your calves and the outsides of the lower legs it's far less of a struggle to do those with your hands. It goes without saying you can't do your feet with it either!
So some areas it does do and some it doesn't. Anyone who's ever had IT Band problems will know how excruciating it is to have them massaged and as mine are permanent because of my dodgy joints I'm no stranger to the eye wateringly painful massage of these! The Foam Roller is painful, I won't lie, and this blue one is even more painful than the white one because it's harder. However, no pain no gain and knots are going to hurt as you massage them so just be aware it takes some getting used to!
But does it work? For people without all my problems it will work well to get knots out and stretch the muscles so yes it does. Even with all my problems it helps a bit so I continue to use it every day. You also get a bit of a workout with having to hold yourself in position for the time it takes to roll out each area so that's another plus. It's fantastic for a tight thoracic spine even though initially it may hurt like the devil!
Overall this is an excellent product, it's designed to last and won't bend or dent and is alot cheaper than paying to have a massage done several times a week. It's small enough to store without getting in the way and small enough to use without banging into the furniture even in a small room. It does help with knotty muscles and after you've used it a good stretch is advised to further release the muscles.
I can't fault it really and it's far superior to the standard white ones because of how firm and resiliant it is. If you've never used one before perhaps a white one would be a better starting model but for those of us who are quite used to them the blue one is a must. A full 5 stars from me.