Reviewed by Emma Rogers
For the majority of people, going to the gym is sometimes a chore, but mostly, you know what you’re doing on the treadmill or rowing machine and nothing else in the studio means much to you. Some people however, have to become more familiar with lesser known equipment, either to enhance their performance if they’re more of an athlete, or to recuperate after an injury. A few others, like me, need to use rehabilitation equipment in order to alleviate lifelong posture issues or conditions which they are born with.
I regularly use the foam roller and massage balls as part of my warm-up sessions in the gym with my dedicated gym trainer. What are the foam roller and massage balls? Well, they’re two types of apparatus which work hand in hand with certain issues, like my tight illium nerve on both sides of my legs. The foam roller in particular can help, but it can also be used to help relieve pain in the calves, quads, hamstrings and the back.
Let me explain. The illium nerve runs from the hip down the outside of the leg to the knee. If it’s tight or injured, it can affect the hips, back and knee. In my case, my illium nerve is too tight and it affects my lower back leaving me in agony and my hip tendons leaving me unable to walk straight or bend at the middle. So how does the foam roller help? By laying across the roller at a right angle to my leg (think of it as if it were rolling up and down the outside of the thigh, but you’re lying on it instead) then my body weight interrupts the blood flow and starts to break down the inflammation. Do this enough over time and it starts to work away the inflammation until it ultimately heals, or loosens it enough for exercise to be more effective.
The massage balls work in much the same way. They can be applied to any part of the body, but for me they are specifically used in the glutes to break down inflation but mostly to relax the muscles so that other corresponding muscles can work together better. For me, I sit on one of them on each side, moving in all directions until I feel the deep glute muscles are being worked and relaxed. All this makes it much easier to warm up before more intense exercise.
The Ultimate Performance Foam Roller (RRP: £19.99) measures approximately, 30 centimetres long by 15 centimetres wide with a slightly raised surface, much like that of bubble wrap. Working the roller along different parts of the body helps with mobility, warm up and uses your own body weight to exert pressure. Don’t be afraid to lie on it – it can certainly take your weight! This roller is particularly nice because it’s not as cumbersome and long as some of the other rollers. It’s great for working with at home because it’s not as heavy as other models either.
The massage balls (RRP: £7.99 / 2 pack) are also useful because their spikey appearance, which looks cruel but isn’t, works deep into the muscles. It can either be used against your own body weight (i.e. lying on them) or can be used by hand to put pressure on an area. They’re particularly good for working into tight shoulders or neck areas so increase blood flow. The size of these massage balls is therefore really useful to a woman like me who has small hands, and therefore can pick them up easily. As there’s two in a pack, you can use them together, or I might even keep one on my desk!
They’re great items to work with at home for your own workouts.
For more information or to buy, visit 1000mile.co.uk.