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When foam first rolled onto the market in the ’80s, your choices were fairly limited—length and (maybe) color. Today, there are a lot more options.
Beginners may prefer a softer roller, which is typically one made from a high-density foam. The next hardest is EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate), which looks more like rubber or vinyl; then a pipe roller, which is a solid pipe wrapped in EVA foam. Beware: “Go too soft, and the roller won’t provide enough pressure for you to fully benefit,” says Steve Barrett, a personal trainer and author of Total Foam Rolling Techniques.
Rollers range from smooth to ones with nodules and valleys. Not only are the more rugged rollers painful, but research suggests that they provide no extra benefits.
Longer rollers (usually three feet) may make it easier to use on certain body parts (like the upper back), while shorter ones (one foot) can be easier to get into tighter spots (like the inner thigh).
The Intelliroll increases mobility in as little as 30 seconds. The Spine Zone targets your neck and mid and lower back and protects against vertebral compression, while the two Body Zones massage more surface area, releasing multiple groups at once. The anatomic design targets hard to reach areas with better control.
IntelliRoll Foam Roller: $60, intelliroll.com