If you have ever seen anyone using a foam roller at the gym, you might have been a bit perplexed by it. I know I certainly had not come across them before despite exercising regularly and thus being a sufferer of aching muscles in the days afterwards. But upon further investigation, I discovered it’s not just experts and gym buffs who should be using this simple yet effective piece of gym equipment. The Grid Flex Foam Roller performs a multitude of benefits for anyone who uses it and it is extremely simple to use.
The benefits I hear you ask? The bumps on the surface are great for massaging out the tight knots which occur in muscles after exercise which you can’t ease with stretching alone. No matter how thoroughly you stretch, the fascia build up in muscles creates knots which won’t disappear and can lead to a multitude of various health problems specifically iliotibial band syndrome. Treatment for ITBS and other related health issues is very serious and painful; it involves an ultrasound machine to relax the inflamed area followed by a machine that utilises electrode stimulation to further relax it.
These extreme measures can be easily avoided by a short ‘cool down’ roll on the Grid Flex Foam Roller after your workout; it works by increasing blood supply to the areas where kneaded. This is where it differs from regular foam rollers which aren’t corrugated, as the protruding bumps rub away the fascia eroding trigger points of pain. The intermittent pattern allows for short intensive kneading followed by a longer more relaxed burst of massage.
Speaking of massage, another benefit of the roller is that it’s like having your own private massage therapist on hand at all times. Feeling stressed after a hard day? Aching because you’ve been sitting awkwardly at work? Connective tissue is where tension is stored which the Grid Flex Foam Roller can help to decrease if not eradicate altogether. The bumps are firmer than muscle tissue but much softer than bone, so they deflect out of the way if they contact your spine or other bony protrusions, making for a very satisfying after-feeling.
Having used one myself, conveniently the day after my first run for a long time, I preferred to lie in a plank position (belly down supporting my upper body weight with my elbows on the ground). I was able to rock forwards and backwards smoothly with my thighs resting on the foam roller and was surprised at the instant relief; you can really feel it working! You can easily alter the amount of pressure by using it in different ways. For example, if used on the floor the weight of your body ensures you are getting a much firmer massage. Whereas when used up against a flat wall, it is less forceful meaning it is easily diverse to use for as long as you choose in different ways.
Yet another benefit of the Grid Flex Foam Roller is the increased flexibility it promotes in your lower back, hip flexors, thighs and knees. If you find yourself a victim to muscle tightness and lower back pain from sitting for long periods of time as I frequently do (I’m sitting at a desk writing this review), then experiment with the foam roller by varying the amount of pressure and building up the length of time you use it for. It will be painful at first but the more frequently you use it, the easier it will become guaranteeing improvements in your flexibility and tension release. All athletes are aware of the importance of good flexibility.
The Grid Flex Foam Roller is very flexible in the ways in which you can use it. As part of your workout, as a warm up tool, to conquer fascia build up after exercise, as a massager for aching muscles in your legs or back. Please see attached photos and video for examples of how to use the roller.
What not to do
PLEASE do not be tempted to try and supplement the foam roller with inanimate objects you have to hand. I know of one individual who would use their child’s football or numerous tennis balls and roll up and down on them. Please be aware that not only could this cause you a serious injury (and embarrassment) but it will not achieve the desired effect. It is the foam in the Grid Flex Foam Rollers which makes them very unique as it is specifically engineered to be hard enough to work muscle tissue without damaging it.
The design of the roller means the foam is gentle enough on your skin and muscle tissue, but the structural support of the roller is strong enough to support anyone’s body weight. It comes in such a wide range of colours that it would fit nicely into any gym or stored in your bedroom at home.
An essential addition to anyone’s exercise routine given the list of benefits explored here. It’s also extremely good value at only £17.99 from Deep Blue. One quick note to all the females, make sure you tie your hair up. Rolling on my back, my loose hair did get trapped under the roller in a sort of conveyer belt disaster scene. Aside from that, happy exercising and roll on everyone!