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Best foam roller for lower back pain
Many people have low back pain. In fact, it is one of the most common muscle aches that patients complain about with their doctors. What many don’t realize is that a simple muscle roller can relive many people’s pain.
Back pain can feel different to different people. It can feel dull or it can feel sharp. It can also be chronic (constant) pain, or it can flair up intermittently.
Either way, back pain can be a debilitating condition, that can literally ruin people’s lives. It is important to seek a qualified medical professional to diagnose any structural issues in your back, back pain can be caused from a serious back injury.
If you see your doctor and find that you don’t have any structural issues with your back, it could be muscle tightness and trigger points that is causing your temporary back pain. If so, you are capable of eliminating this debilitating pain.
Which foam roller is best for your lower back muscles?
There is no “perfect” lower back foam roller. There are many types of foam rollers, but the one that you decide to go with can be picked based off from your own personal needs.
Trigger point foam rollers
If you have really bad trigger points and tightness in your gluteus muscles, a traditional foam roller may not be enough. A traditional, flat (all foam) foam roller is usually too soft to allow for a deep tissue massage. However, these foam rollers are better than having nothing.
To effectively target your trigger points, you may want to get a high density foam roller or a trigger point foam roller that has knobs sticking out.
These foam rollers allow you to get deeper into the muscle tissue and massage out any pent up tightness. The way trigger points and muscle tightness heal are from pressure and massage. It heals faster if you can put a good amount of pressure on them.
How to use a foam roller for your lower back?
Many people don’t use a foam roller for the lower back correctly. They actually make the mistake of foam rolling right on their lower back muscles. This is actually not recommended because, since foam rollers use your bodyweight to massage, it can be too much weight on your lower back muscles.
When you foam roll your upper and mid back, you have the ribs to protect yourself. It can be dangerous to put too much weight on your lower back muscles because there are no ribs or skeletal muscles to protect yourself.
Using a foam roller directly on your lower back can actually cause your lower back muscles to tighten up too much, which defeats the purpose of foam rolling.
Instead of rolling your lower back, you should focus on foam roller exercises that target tightness in your gluteus and mid back areas. You can also roll your sides out if you support yourself so you don’t put too much weight on your sides.
Tip: If you do have tightness in your lower back and you don’t own a massage ball or muscle roller stick (see below), some people will do a modified roll on their lower back. They will support themselves with their hands and only put a slight amount of pressure against the foam roller on the ground. However, since the potential for injury is there, we don’t typically recommend this, and we recommend you seek professional medical advice if you are thinking about using a foam roller in this area.
What other muscle rollers are good for lower back pain?
There are a few other types of muscle rollers, besides foam rollers that can be very useful for treating lower back pain. In fact many people often use a combination of different types of muscle rollers for different purposes.
For example a foam roller is often used as a general full body self-myofascial release tool. And a massage ball and muscle stick roller (see below) are often used to supplement their daily foam rolling routines.
Muscle roller sticks
Muscle rollers sticks are great to target actual trigger points in your lower back. As mentioned before, many times the trigger points that cause lower back pain do not reside in your lower back. However, sometimes you can have tightness in the lower back. In which case, a muscle roller stick is much better (and safer) because you can control the amount of pressure you place on your lower back.
You can also target your side and upper gluteus muscles very easily and really get some deep tissue massage with the muscle roller sticks. Many times these areas can cause you back and side pain.
Massage balls can also be used to target muscle tightness in your lower back. Massage balls can be placed against the wall and your lower back to target any tightness. This technique allows you to easily put the exact amount of pressure you want on your muscles.
Another unique way to target stubborn tight muscles in your gluteus is to sit on a massage ball, on your right or left gluteus muscles. You can then prop yourself up with your hands and feet to roll against the massage ball on the ground.
The Dark Side of Fitness Magazines
Most of what we hear about health and fitness stems from brilliant marketing tactics. We learn fitness advice from fitness magazines. Sounds reasonable, right? Getting sound fitness advice from fitness magazines.
The problem with this is that most of the fitness magazines are owned by the supplement companies or have business relationships with supplement companies. When you buy a fitness magazine you’re basically paying to read about the advertisements and articles that attempt to indirectly or directly lead you to purchase supplements.
Most Fitness Magazines are owned by Supplement companies
We all know that fitness and bodybuilding magazines have way too many ads for supplements. There are usually more ads than informational articles! When I used to read these magazines, I though to myself, did I really just pay 7 bucks for a little book of advertisements? Shrugging the question aside I would just scan past the ads, searching for that cover article on how to get bigger biceps than The Rock, in only 4 days.
It’s easy to assume that the magazine companies need to make money so they sell out ad space to supplement companies. While this is somewhat true, it surprising to find out that most of these bodybuilding magazines are actually owned by big, conglomerate supplement companies.
If they’re not owned by the supplement companies, there are usually business partnerships in place to promote the much more lucrative supplement industry. So these bodybuilding magazines that we actually pay money for are basically expensive, biased catalogs of supplement products. I guess my gut feeling was right all along, back in the day when I would read these.
The purpose of these bodybuilding magazines is not to educate people, it is to sell us supplements! Supplements are where the money is at in the fitness industry. It is the equivalent to the pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare industry. There is a lot of money in pills because it is something that people continually consume day after day.
List of Supplement Companies who Own Muscle & Fitness Magazines
Here are a few examples of mainstream fitness magazines and supplement companies who are one in the same:
- Weider Supplements: Weider owns Muscle & Fitness and Flex Magazine. Since Weider is so big, they can also afford to offer ad slots to other companies like MuscleTech. Either way they are promoting their own supplements or other company supplements who they have some sort of business relationships with.
- EAS & MET-Rx: Bill Phillips founded muscle media magazine in 1992. Initially the magazine promoted MET-Rx pretty heavily. It was later found out that Bill Phillips was actually business partners with the founder of MET-Rx. In 1996 Bill Phillips bought EAS from EAS’s founders. He then began promoting mostly EAS products in his muscle media magazine.
- T-nation: Though this online magazine may have better content than some of its other paper counterparts, the purpose is still to sell their biotest supplements.
There are probably a million other fitness magazines owned by supplement companies out there. What you really need to consider next time you pick up a fitness magazine is, is the content biased? Is this good advice? Or is there really a hidden agenda behind all the articles?
How Fitness Magazines Dupe You
To get you to continually read and purchase these fitness magazines, they write articles that seem beneficial. Sure, sometimes they may actually be informative and beneficial. But most of the time it is just some outlandish roadmap to bigger arms or a sexier core.
There are professional writers who creative twists on workout routines or advice that is geared to sell you supplement products. Their goal is to continually pump out article after article about new exercises, new workout techniques, new ways to get fit, new diets, studies on supplements, etc. All this with an end game to sell you supplements. Kinda puts a bad taste in your mouth doesn’t it?
If they were to really tell you the nuts and bolts on how to get fit & muscular (or toned for women) they wouldn’t be able to endlessly pump out article after article. They would probably have about 25 articles and that’s it. Or maybe a small book. To continually write article after article, they have to get creative and think of catchy new workouts, new drop sets, or how to get big arms in 4 days, etc. These are all typically just nonsense articles.
These fitness magazines are the equivalent to watching reality TV shows or tabloids. They may give you some entertainment, but they are just a bunch of fluff. They really do not add much value to your life. Sure magazines can be useful if they motivate you to work out, but it’s much less efficient then learning the truth about diet and exercise from other more trusted sources, that aren’t so biased towards selling their supplements.
In reality it’s pretty simple to getting fit and muscular. At the end of the day you shouldn’t be buying into these magazines and continually reading them. I stopped years ago. I encourage you to do the same.
Are all Magazines and Websites who Sell Supplements and Fitness Products Bad?
It doesn’t necessarily mean that anybody who has a magazine or website that also sell supplements or fitness products has bad information. It just means you need to be more aware of hidden agendas. Learn to read between the lines. It also means you need to do your own research and you shouldn’t believe everything you read.
Since our website sells foam rollers and has fitness articles, are we biased in our health and fitness articles? We would like to think not, because we are actually very passionate about health, fitness, pain management, and foam rolling. Since there is such a lack of understanding of myofascial trigger points that lead to pain and other things related to muscle and fascia health, we made it our mission to spread the word.
In fact there is probably better money in marketing hyped up fitness supplements, but we chose to sell muscle roller products because they solve real problems in peoples lives. Foam rollers & Muscle Rollers relieve pain through targeting trigger points and they speed muscle recovery after workouts. There are a ton of foam roller benefits, and that’s why we use them daily ourselves.
Muscle rollers are an amazing tool to help people achieve certain pain management and fitness goals. Thats it, plain and simple. It’s not some gimmick that promises insane results. Its not something that we need to create a widespread fitness magazine to promote. People use it, they love it, word spreads. You don’t have to promote something that actively has a word of mouth phenomena because how well it works. Muscle rollers are a no-nonsense massage tool that thousands of people use for muscle health. You can very easily buy a muscle roller from any other company, but if you get some good information from our articles to better your life, that fulfills our mission.
So these are our passions. We hope that our passion for the truth can eliminate any perceived biases against us. We also love to write articles about the evolving scientific understanding of foam rolling, muscle massage, health and fitness. Since we are in search for the answers, we hope to find and share them with others.
Enough self promotion already – gosh!
The point is, when reading fitness articles (or any online article for that matter) you have to ask yourself – does this information sound valid? Can this information be verified against other sources? Always question, and don’t stop questioning. Just remember that those companies or magazines who write articles for the sole purpose of selling you their crappy supplements, are not articles or magazines you should be reading to expand your fitness knowledge.
Develop a Habit of Foam Rolling
Foam Rolling can give you tremendous benefits in your life. Everything from pain management to flexibility, foam rollers can do wonders for your health. There are some studies coming to light that show the benefits of foam rolling, but there are also countless people who swear by it.
The problem is that developing new habits are difficult! Yes we may know how good we feel after foam rolling, but it is easy to get busy and not take breaks at work, etc so that eventually we feel muscular discomfort and pain. Or maybe we exercise a lot without using a foam roller before and after our workouts.
The way foam rolling can give you the most benefit is simply sticking with it. That’s why you need to make it a goal to develop, what we at muscle foam roller call, the foam rolling habit! Below are some tips to get you started on your way to a lifelong journey of foam rolling and better well-being.
1. Place the Foam Roller in plain sight
One great way to get yourself to develop the foam rolling habit is to set your foam roller out somewhere that you will see it a lot, such as your living room or bedroom. If you have it set out in plain site, then it’s always there for you to see. It becomes a constant reminder to use the foam roller throughout the day.
If you don’t like the looks of it on the middle of your living room then you can set it up against the wall in a corner, so it’s not as noticeable. You should put it up against the corner of wall somewhere anyways so nobody accidentally steps or trips over it.
2. Start Foam rolling while watching TV
Another great way to get yourself to adopt the foam rolling habit, is to simply foam roll while you watch TV. This is one of the most simple and effective things you can implement in your daily routines! Most people watch at least a half hour to an hour of TV almost every day, so why not hop on the foam roller and roll your muscles out while you’re watching game of thrones! Watching TV while rolling will keep your muscles much more healthy than merely being a couch potato and remaining sedentary. Most people are sedentary all day at work, then maybe go to the gym and come home to vedge out some more.
3. Start Foam Rolling at Work
Another great way to use the foam roller more often and develop the habit, is to bring a foam roller to work. If you wanted to be a little bit more discrete, you can get a muscle roller stick or a travel size foam roller to bring to work.
If your boss or place of business allows you to use the foam roller while taking breaks at work, then great! If not, you should work to confince them of the benefits it would bring to your productivity. Since we spend the majority of our days at work and many of us work at a sedentary job, you should talk to somebody that has the power to grant that ability. You can explain to them how important it is for yours and other people’s well-being.
Taking a lot of breaks and preferably foam rolling on those breaks, can have a dramatic effect on decreasing myofascial trigger points, which cause muscle pain. Employers may not realize that it doesn’t take very long to use a foam roller. It may just take a few minutes and it will keep the employees refreshed and able to focus more on the work because they’re having increased blood flow and less pain associated with the repetitive stress of sitting or doing computer work all day long.
4. Take lots of breaks while sitting for long periods
Though this may or may not involve foam rolling, you should always take breaks when sitting for long periods of time. There have been recent studies that suggests sitting is the new smoking. It is bad for your body to sit for long periods of time.
Preferably, you would get your foam roller out and start foam rolling while taking these short breaks. This would allow the much needed blood flow and circulation to take place on muscles that are overworked by sitting down too much.
5. Bring a foam roller while traveling
Similar to foam rolling at work, you should also make it a point to bring a foam roller while you are on vacation. Many people have to travel for work or just for pleasure, and end up sitting on a car, bus or train for a long time. A travel foam roller can easily fit in your luggage, so you can undo the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time while traveling.
Many people like to visit the hotel gyms to get a quick workout, while on vacation. Why not bring a travel foam roller so you can easily get some foam rolling done as well?
6. Foam roll before workouts
Another tip would be to use a foam roller every time you are about to start a workout. You can just do it for a few minutes before your workout to warm the muscles up and loosen up your body.
Foam rolling before a workout actually seems to be the new stretching for many people. Foam rolling has similar benefits to your body as stretching, but it doesn’t weaken your muscles temporarily like stretching does. While they both have similar beneficial effects on the muscles, foam rolling seems to be a more logical pre-workout activity because it doesn’t cause a decrease in muscular performance like stretching does.
There have actually been studies done that show a decrease in muscular performance. When you stretch, you are essentially elongating the muscles. And for quick power movements like sprints, it needs to quickly shorten the muscle to contract your leg muscles to sprint. So many fitness professionals now recommend stretching after a workout, and instead do similar movements and warm ups as your main workouts.
7. Foam roll after workouts
Another tip is to use a foam roller right after your workouts. This can help speed your recovery and reduce pain associated with the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). You can use a foam roller between your workout days as well to reduce the pain caused from DOMS.
Many people will foam roll before and after workout or just after workouts, depending on their own personal preference and how their body reacts to rolling. I personally like to get a quick foam rolling session before and after a workout.
9. Focus on making it a habit
Another way to adopt the foam rolling habit is to really focus your energies on turning it into a new habit. The problem is, many of us get very busy and we forget to implement the foam rolling on a daily or weekly schedule.
If you can continually foam roll for a month it is much easier to develop the habit. If you can just get yourself to do something everyday for 30 days it can be much easier to develop a habit. Everybody is different though. Some people, after 30 days will still struggle keeping the habit. Others will have developed a habit. If you need longer try 60 days of foam rolling and once it becomes a habit you don’t have to use discipline any longer. It just becomes as natural as brushing your teeth.
8. Set an alarm or even reminder
Another way you can use the foam roller more often is to set an alarm or event reminder on your calendar. Maybe you want to remind yourself to do it every day or every other day. Maybe you want to remind yourself to do it several times a day, everyday.
The frequency of your foam rolling habit all depends on how your body reacts to foam rolling. It is a personal preference. I personally try to roll every single day.
You may decide to set a schedule to use a foam roller several times a day, once a day, or every other day. The important thing to remember is to just be consistent with it. When you are first staring out on your foam rolling habit, it can definitely help to use a reminder (alarm or calendar event) on your iPhone or smartphone device.
10. Educate yourself on myofascial trigger points
Another great way to use a foam roller more often is to educate yourself on the benefits of foam rolling. Read up on what myofascial trigger points and myofacial release are.
It’s one thing to read a article about the benefits of foam rolling. It’s another thing to completely educate yourself on the mechanisms of how pain is developed through these trigger points. The more you read about how foam rolling can help with pain and general health, the more you believe in the validity of foam rolling. The more you realize how good it is for your body the more you want to do it. The goal is to basically educate yourself to develop a mindset change of how our muscles really operate, and how our muscle is the bodies biggest, least cared about, and most misunderstood organ. And the ultimate goal of education is how you can use a muscle roller massage tool like the foam roller to keep your muscles and body healthy.
We had several guides here at muscle foam roller that you can browse to gain a better understanding of many subjects. You can learn how foam rolling benefits your body and other aspects related to the science behind myofascial trigger points and muscular health.
Finding the Best Foam Rollers
Choosing the Best Size Foam Roller
When searching for the best foam rollers, you must consider size. Not only are there many different types of foam rollers, there are many different sizes that foam rollers come in. It can be confusing choosing the right size roller.
The length is what usually is the main difference in sizes between foam rollers, but there can also be differences in diameter. For example, there are the traditional Trigger Point Foam Roller (pictured above) and there is the Travel Foam Roller (pictured below), which is miniature sized Trigger Point Foam Roller to make it easier to carry around.
When choosing the best foam rollers for your particular needs, the size is usually just a personal preference, as the smaller ones are better for travel and portability. The longer ones are easier to roll on and to not slip off from. It really all depends on where you want to use it. We generally recommend a longer roller for home and a shorter one to bring to the gym and while traveling.
Choosing the Best Firmness for your Foam Roller
When searching for the ultimate muscle foam roller (either for fitness or general health) you need to consider your preference, age and your purpose for rolling. When using foam rollers, it is important to decide if you want more of a firm foam roller or a softer one, as each can give you different experiences while rolling. You also want to decide if a grid style foam roller or something more firm like a knobbed style foam roller is better.
The firmness is all about how dense the foam is. If the foam is extremely dense, it will be much more firm. If it is less dense, it will feel softer to the touch and you will feel the softer foam when rolling your muscles.
Softer Rollers For Beginners
In general, you should choose a softer foam roller when you are first starting out. The soft foam rollers are better for beginners because it is common to experience soreness and pain when first getting into rolling with foam rollers. Your muscles need time to adapt to the rolling. The very first time you get on a foam roller, you will likely experience some uncomforted in certain areas, while felling great in other areas.
With that said, it is okay to use a hard foam roller like the high density foam roller, even when you are a beginner. It helps relieve the myofascial trigger points better than a softer foam roller. It all depends on your personal preference.
Firm Rollers For Advanced Users
Once you give your body time to adapt, you will be able to roll on (and probably need) a more firm foam roller. Though you may still want a soft roller, some people may need a firm foam roller as they continually use them. At first, your muscles are much easier to get to and much more tender. After your muscles have adapted, the firm rollers help you get a good muscle massage, stress relief, and all the other benefits foam rollers have.
Textured or Flat Foam Rollers?
Not only are there different sizes and degrees of firmness, there are also different textures. There are grid type textures, round bump like textures, and spike knob-like textures.
This is all about personal preference. We personally use different textures for different purposes. For example, the smooth foam rollers are a great all purpose foam roller. The knobbed ones are good for more of a deep tissue massage. The grid foam rollers are a good mix on the flat rollers, as they give you a more varied massage; It varies the pressure on your muscles.
Choosing the Color that Fits Your Personality
This, obviously is all about personal preference. Whether you want a white foam roller, a black foam roller, a pink foam roller, a blue foam roller, a green foam roller, or a purple foam roller, the choice is all up to you. However, you should note that some companies will use a color code to differentiate between the firmness.
For example, white is traditionally the softest roller and black rollers are the firmest foam rollers. Colors like blue and green are usually a medium thickness.
Just keep that in mind when looking for a roller, and be sure to read the description to make sure it is the correct firmness that you need. We don’t agree with this logic because we know that people want different colors based on preferences, and different degrees of firmness.
Though it may seem complicated with all the factors, just get a foam roller. It will make a huge difference in your life. It helps with pain, it helps with staying fit, staying hydrated, and many other benefits. Here at muscle foam roller, we have a huge variety of foam rollers that will fit your needs.