***UPDATE: Just days after posting this review, the company had to shut down. M80 Rollers are not available at this time, but the information in this post about the importance of foam rolling and creating a recovery program are still relevant and useful! Please read on, and I will try to find another intermediate level roller to review as a replacement suggestion, since this was actually a very good product and I'm sad I can't recommend it anymore!***
I started with a soft, cheap foam roller from a discount store, and slowly learned proper techniques as I built up my muscles. Now, though, that soft roller isn't quite doing the job so well, and I need something a little more firm to work out the knots and smooth out my increased muscle mass. An ever-increasing number of companies are producing rollers and recovery products, but it's hard to know which is right for you until you try the different styles and levels of firmness. I was lucky to have the opportunity to try the M80 Roller, which happened to be perfect for me at this stage!
M80 Rollers come in three lengths and dozens of colors, but it's their grooved design that makes these rollers unique and powerful. One of the benefits of foam rolling is the ability to break down scar tissue within the muscle, tissue often created by the constant minuscule tearing and repairing that occurs during muscle building activities. Scar tissue binds up the muscles and reduces flexibility, range of motion, and suppleness. Breaking up that tissue restores muscles to a healthier state, allowing training to continue with maximum results. The grooves on the M80 roller create a more massage-like texture along the surface of the roller, helping reach deeper and more knotted tissues, without being overly painful.
Disclaimer: I received my M80 Rollers free of charge in exchange for my review. I have not been compensated in any other way for this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.
The standard sized 15" roller is designed to be useful on any muscle group, and is wide enough for most people to use on any body part - including the back and shoulders. I used my roller as part of a more in-depth routine for stretching and flexibility, coupling the massage and tissue break up of the roller with static stretching and yoga. By combining several methods for increasing flexibility and decreasing recovery time, I have been able to make noticeable changes in my range of motion and muscle quality in a short period of time. Typically, I perform this routine on rest days, as a sort of active rest that keeps my muscles from tensing up on an off day.
I also received an M80 6" Grenade, which is a much shorter mini roller. It's perfect for travel! I keep it stashed in my gym bag, so I can address particularly sore or tight muscles immediately after exercise, which really helps cut down on recovery time! The shorter roller is not quite long enough for properly treating my back, but it is perfect for rolling sore calves after a race or treating my quads or hamstrings on leg day. Having a portable roller has definitely made me more conscious of how I care for my body and has only augmented the increased range of motion I noticed with the standard roller.
How do you recover from your workouts? Have you tried foam rolling? Do you think an intelligently designed roller can replace a trained masseuse? Who wants to provide me with some trial massages to review? ;)