Every runner wants to recover better and faster so they are ready for the next run. If you’re a slightly older runner (like myself) you need to take even better care of yourself to avoid injury.
Vibrating foam rollers that can be used at home on your legs are an increasingly popular recovery device.
This guide will help you find the best vibrating foam roller for you.
What Are the Benefits Of A Vibrating Foam Roller?
Why buy a vibrating foam roller when the non-vibrating variety are sometimes a third of the price? Is the extra expense worth it in the long run
Myofascial tissue support your muscles by keeping them closely wrapped. Keeping the wrapping in optimal condition helps you run better.
Vibrating foam rollers combine vibration with pressure to release trigger points in the fascial tissue.
There’s slightly more to it than that but beyond the scope of this article, take a look here for more information.
Recover Faster And Better?
The love of running means you want to run more. Equally if you are an infrequent runner you may find it takes several days to recover from a light short(ish) run.
In either case a few minutes after a run with a vibrating foam roller should speed your recovery. By increasing the blood flow in the areas you work and by massaging that fascial tissues.
Research has been carried out and found that vibration therapy leads to an increase in temperature and blood flow. This has been found to improve rage of motion in tired muscles.
Vibrating Foam Roller As A Warm Up Device
Like all runners I take warming up very seriously.. That’s not entirely true but all runners know they should warm up.
A vibrating foam roller can help with this. A few minutes before a run massaging the major muscles o your legs will put you in a much better position than no warm up at all.
Take a look at this video for some ideas about how to use your vibrating foam roller to warm up.
All vibrating foam rollers perform the same basic functions. However there are important differences that need to be considered before you jump into this excising vibrating world.
There are a number of switches and lights on the ends of these vibrating foam rollers. They are used to switch is on and off and to control and indicated the vibration. The better rollers have 3 or 4 speed settings that vary the intensity of the vibration.
They can also have pulse settings that send vibrations to your muscles in waves.
All these things are very nice but you wont know which setting helps you most until you start to use it. Buying a good quality roller that has these settings will help you get the most out of it.
The surface pattern of a vibrating foam roller serves the same purpose as that on the non-vibrating kind. The more lumps and bumps on the surface the more intense the massage.
Lets be honest here, they can be painful to use at times. So if you are new to this vibration recovery world going for a roller that’s at the less aggressive end of the spectrum is a good idea.
Equally if you’ve been used to an aggressive non-vibrating roller and you’re looking for the next step up, go for one with all the lumps bumps and groves.
Harder Or Softer
The harder the surface the more intense the massage. Again, intense means potentially painful. This is why my non-vibrating foam roller has a soft outer surface. It serves me well and hits the spot after a long run.
At the extreme end of the spectrum on hardness. Some NBA players have been seen using PVC pipes court side to roll out their legs. They are tough professionals with years of strength training and conditioning in their muscles.
I certainly do not have that in my legs and I know that would hurt a lot. The pain to benefit ration would be at the pain end for me.
Unless you’re flying off to an international race and you want to take your vibrating foam roller with you (in that case take the charger). Short term battery life wont be too much of a concern for you.
However a good quality battery will give the vibrating foam roller a longer lifespan. I’m not keen on spending money unnecessarily. But this is one instance where a few extra dollars will save you money in the long run.
There is some debate over the effectiveness of a vibrating foam roller compared to its non-vibrating counterpart. Studies have been carried out comparing the two and the evidence is inconclusive. The vibrating rollers appear to have the edge when you look at the math. But there’s more to running that math.
Alternatives To Vibrating Foam Rollers
I’m not going to go into details about all the alternatives (stretching, massage sticks, massage balls etc). But the Percussion Massage Gun is worthy of mention as this is a powered device.
The Percussion Massage Gun performs a similar function to the vibrating foam roller. It Myofascial Release through a powered vibrating action. But it can be used in many other ways. I love mine as after a long run getting on the floor with a roller seems like very hard work. With my massage gun I can sit in a chair and give my muscles a good going over.
I’ve written an article about them here so take a look for more information.
Final Thoughts: Best Vibrating Foam Roller
Myofascial Release is an important consideration and should be part of your post run routine.
A Vibrating Foam Roller can help with that process very effectively.
There are alternatives such as the percussion massage gun and non-vibrating foam roller.
Having alternative techniques in your recovery arsenal will help you get better at recovery and (hopefully) a better runner.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Myofascial Release?
The massaging of the fascial surounding the