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Foam Roller - Magic Bullet or Over-Hyped BS?

BUT it looks so cumbersome and troublesome to use. AND people may feel a little conscious about appearing silly or awkward, sprawled all over the gym floor while performing their foam-rolling exercises.

So we’re here to clear things up!

Why Is There A Pain In My Butt?

If you often push yourself to your limits in the gym (as you should if you want to experience any sort of meaningful gains), you’ll find yourself aching hard 24-48 hours after the workout. This is often known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, often abbreviated as DOMS.

Personally, I focus quite a bit on my glutes (hence a literal pain in my butt) and thighs with lower body exercises such as squats and I often find myself struggling to walk and aching for several days in a row after the workout session.

My leg muscles were also stiffer and I suffered from a reduction in range of motion while performing my gym exercises.

That is, until I was introduced to myofascial release & deep tissue massages.

Fascia - That Disgusting White Cling Wrap Thing

If you’re not sure what fascia is, think of the white gooky membrane that attaches to the skin of a cooked chicken breast.

"You can think of fascia as layers and layers of cling wrap that encompass all of the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints in the body," explains physical therapist Grayson Wickham, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., founder of Movement Vault, a digital movement education platform.

When fascia is inflamed due to lifestyle factors like poor posture, dehydration, injury or lack of movement, it can result in pain (for example, in plantar fasciitis).

Also, if the fascia is too tight or un-pliable, your ability to move your muscles and joints will be limited, thus restricting your range of motion and muscle growth.

The Secret Behind Foam Rollers

It was back in 2019, when my personal trainer first introduced me to the wonders of deep-tissue massages & myofascial release. Prior to the gym sessions with him, I was always limping around after “leg day” for the next 2-3 days as the workouts were always brutal, and I was unable to recover quickly.

Towards the end of each personal training session, he would help me to perform foam-rolling exercises.

And man, were they brutal.

I found myself howling in pain as he pressed the foam roller on my thighs and back. But it was well worth it, because I did not really experience muscle soreness after I got started on my foam rolling routine.

The Science Behind Deep-Tissue Massages & Myofascial Release - The Solution To Aches

Using a foam roller can help to reduce post-workout aches and soreness in 2 main ways

Firstly, foam rolling can act as a form of myofascial release, which can help to loosen up tight fascia and help muscle fibers relax. This will reduce fascia-related pain.

Secondly, foam rolling can serve as a type of deep-tissue massage, which can help to improve blood circulation to one’s muscles, helping the body transport nutrients that are essential for cellular and muscle repair whenever there is a breakdown of muscle tissue post workout. This helps to speed up the rate of muscle recovery and thus reduces the rate of soreness and aches.

But Foam-Rolling Is Like Flossing One’s Teeth, Isn’t It? Are there any other alternatives?

Hopefully by now, you understand the benefits of foam rolling. However, just like we know that eating junk food is bad for us, and flossing our teeth is good for our health, having the discipline to stick through a foam rolling routine can be highly challenging.

Foam Rolling is like Flossing Teeth - It takes a while to get used to it and it is hard to stick to a routine

Foam rolling is not easy. You have to dedicate at least 10 minutes on the floor, with your weight on the foam roller.

But last year, a friend of mine introduced another alternative. And in no time, I was completely sold. And my foam roller was left collecting dust in the storeroom right after that.

Foam Rollers On Easy Mode

The magic tool in question was the massage gun.

The massage gun revolutionized muscle recovery in the same way that the automotive revolutionized transportation (and effectively replaced horses).

Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a little. But I am sure glad that this device was ever invented.

The massage gun utilizes percussion therapy to provide a deep-tissue massage and myofascial release. It is way easier to use, requires way less effort, and is more effective in providing a deep massage compared to the foam roller in many ways.

Massage Gun vs Foam Roller

Now that you are familiarized with both options, let’s do a full breakdown of the pros and cons of various aspects of the massage guns and foam rollers.

Ease Of Use

The foam roller is not easy to use. When I first started foam rolling, my personal trainer was the one who was using it to give me a massage and all I ever did was to lie down and bear with the pain.

But eventually I had to learn how to use it on my own and it took several weeks for me to fully grasp the nuances of each of the different foam rolling exercises.

These moves aren’t easy and they make me feel like an acrobat

Foam rolling at home can be a little inconvenient as well. If my living room was in a mess, I would have to clear it up first before I could make space to foam roll on the floor.

It is also highly advisable to foam roll either right before or right after your gym/workout session. You might end up breaking a sweat (which isn’t what you want if you have already showered after gym).

On the other hand, massage guns are very intuitive and easy to use. You can simply adjust the speed of the massage gun according to your needs, and target the relevant muscle group or body part accordingly.

Convenience

It is significantly easier to make a habit stick when the task at hand is easier to perform. On days when I was completely exhausted or in a rush, I would often skip foam rolling.

However, once I got my hands on a massage gun, I found it a lot easier to stick to the routine that I have set for myself.

Regardless of whether it was during large company Zoom meetings, or while watching TV on the couch, it was never too difficult to turn on my massage gun and stick to the post workout recovery routine.

Ability To Target Specific Muscle Groups/Body Parts

Foam rollers are cumbersome tools that are built for targeting broader areas and larger body parts. I found them to be most useful for massaging my upper and lower back, as well as my thighs.

Massage guns on the other hand, are easier to handle and target specific body parts. You can even change the attachment head to better suit different muscle types. For example, I tend to use the fork head of my massage gun to massage my neck and traps.

I also found the massage gun to be extremely useful for massaging sore feet (from running) and hands (from long hours at the computer).

However, if you are less flexible, you may find it a little difficult to reach your back. From my personal experience, I was still able to reach most parts of my back so it really depends on your flexibility. You can also get someone else to help you perform the massage if necessary.

Cost

Massage guns are undoubtedly more expensive than foam rollers. A basic foam roller can cost between 30-40 USD (40-55 SGD/AUD) while a vibrating foam roller can cost between 80-300 USD (100-400 SGD/AUD).

On the other hand, massage guns start at a higher price of 50 USD for the lower quality massage guns, to upward of 600 USD for the most premium ones.

Conclusion

Both foam rollers and massage guns have their place as part of a proper muscle recovery and workout routine. In my opinion, I feel that foam rollers can do about 60% of what massage guns can do, but it is not as user-friendly and enjoyable to use.

However, if you are on a budget, you should definitely consider adding a foam roller to your workout tool arsenal.

If you are serious about working out, it is highly recommended to get yourself a massage gun such as HYDRAGUN to speed up your muscle recovery and reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

If you are a super hardcore gymrat, you should definitely consider getting both as boosting your recovery can really lead to significant gains. After all, if you're already spending hundreds of dollars per month on gym memberships, protein powder and personal training, a one-time payment of a few hundred dollars for a quality massage gun seems like a no-brainer investment to me.

For a quick 5-min comparison video between HYDRAGUN and a foam roller, check out DrJames’ video below.

Introducing HYDRAGUN

HYDRAGUN is a percussive therapy massage gun built to provide a quality, deep-tissue massage for athletes and peak performers.

If you don’t believe us, check out what some of our happy customers have to say about HYDRAGUN

Reviews

J

30/06/2021

Jonathon Adam

Will never look at warmup and recovery the same way again

"Love using this massage gun has changed the way I warm up and recover from sports forever. It’s quiet, easy to use, and comes with plenty of attachments specific to the different types of massages and areas of the body. I was tossing up between this and some more expensive brands and even though it doesn’t have the same deep tissue massage it is value for money and perfect for what I need in a massage gun."

P

29/06/2021

Paul E

Great recovery gun

"I have been trying to stay active and it comes with a cost - physical pain. Hydragun helped a lot in easing up muscle stiffness and relieves soreness instantly after few sessions. I now become dependent on it and the best investment thus far. Not to mention, it is very quiet I could barely hear the motor until speed 3! See for yourself."

S

16/06/2021

Steven Ang

Pioneer

"I am pleased to have bought the hydragun on the recommendation of my pain management consultant. The massage gun worked to help to relieve my lower back pain as well as the sore body muscles. The gun although is slightly heavy for me at age 78 but still manageable. I like it because it’s extremely quiet. No hesitation in recommending to anyone looking for a good massage using this gun."

B

13/06/2021

Bob Shephard

Hydragun Leg Massage

"I decided to try a massage gun due to my calves, gluters, ITB, quads and general leg muscles needing weekly expensive massages to alleviate muscle strain and cramping as a result of a long term scuba diving accident. Confronted with the multiple brands available I brought a brand in the middle price range - it worked well however failed on week three. Amazon reimbursed me for the product and I returned it. I then decided to go for a top end unit as it was great therapy with good results. I have had the Hydragun for three weeks now and it is sensational, quiet, and gives a great result - no more expensive massages. I only hope it keeps going as it gets a hard work out nearly every night."

B

14/08/2020

Benjamin Tessler

Fits well into hand grip, not noisy, great product

"I tend to have aching calves as I usually run frequently. Tried the hydragun and pretty shocked it really does help to ease muscle tension. Surely something to recommend. Excellent product, especially the part that it fits nicely into your handgrip and that the massage is really silent. Really good product. Should have gotten this sooner."

DISCLAIMER: This article is not meant to be taken as medical advice. When in doubt, consult a medical professional.

HYDRAGUN Singapore Health & Medicine