Foam Rollers for Muay Thai

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Muscle ache is almost a daily bread for most people who train Muay Thai. Muscle aches are a good thing: the wear and tear creates opportunity for the muscles to grow bigger and stronger. But the soreness can sometimes be a pain, literally. It affects your performance during training and if not properly managed, can lead to more serious injuries, as other muscles are called up to compensate for the underperforming ones.

There is a long tradition of association between martial arts and massage. Injuries are commonplace in the world of combat and massage has always been employed in rehabilitation and recovery. In the modern world, many boxers, Muay Thai, and MMA fighters receive body massages to help ease the inevitable aching of their tough training and fights. Athletes of many other sports also use massage to enable them to cope with muscle soreness.

Depending on which part of the world you are in, massage therapies can work out to be a very costly indulgence. That is why manual self-massage tools -such as foam rollers- are now more popular than ever due to their affordability and efficiency. In this article, let’s explore how these tools can help with recovery and Muay Thai training.

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR)
Fascia is a supportive and protective connective tissue (made of collagen fibers) that wraps the muscles in our bodies. It has been proposed that fascia gets tight and restrictive after strenuous physical activities which results in muscular aches and hence discomfort. Myofascial release refers to the massage therapy that “releases” this tightness which eases the discomfort. In short, SMR is essentially self-massage.

Foam rollers are the most commonly used SMR tools. If you have been working out for any period of time, you would have seen one being used in the gym. There are other SMR tools that are effective and popular with athletes and casual gym-goers. These include roller sticks, massage balls, to even pvc pipes, tennis balls and lacrosse balls.

Benefits of Foam Rolling for Muay Thai

While Myofascial Release as an alternative medicine treatment (for injuries and pain) is not yet fully supported by sufficient scientific evidence, SMR -especially foam rolling- remains and grows as a popular and widespread method for managing muscle soreness. If you have been training hard at the gym, here are some benefits of foam rolling for your consideration:

Temporary Pain/Soreness Relief
From removal of lactic acid build-up, fascial release, reducing inflammation, to improving blood circulation, there have been many theories as to why massage helps in pain/soreness management. Some of the theories may have been debunked or remains inconclusive but there is no denying that massaging a sore or painful spot helps to ease the discomfort. It may not cure your muscle soreness but a roll with a foam roller every few hours can certainly help to relax the muscles and let you cope better with the uncomfortable aches as you go on about with your daily activities.

Adequate and proper stretching prepares the muscles for physical activity and helps to lower risk of injuries. However, stretching while the body is cold may be harmful since muscles may further tighten up in the process. To counter this, foam rolling prepares the cold body for stretching by relaxing the muscles. Combining dynamic stretching after foam rolling increases the range of motion and give the muscles a boost for enhanced performance. Foam rolling and static stretching post workout will also help to reduce the tension built up in the muscle, and hence the degree of soreness.

Many of us will likely run into debt every time we need a massage to soothe our body aches. Massage costs are high in many cities and so SMR is the next best way to ease our frequent training soreness. Most foam rollers, even the best ones, are very affordable and given that you can get a roll unlimited times a day, they work out to be very value and worthwhile purchases.

Easy to Perform
You don’t need to go through any massage course or get certified to perform self-massage. SMR is easy to learn and easy to perform. You don’t have to worry about gritting your teeth through a painful, deep-tissue massage or having to tell your masseuse to apply more strength because you get to control the force. There are also tonnes of videos on YouTube on getting the best results out of SMR. Best of all, foam rollers are portable and so SMR can be administered anytime, anywhere.

Foam Roller Recommendations

Foam rollers are your best bets for generalised pain or soreness over larger areas (back, hamstring, glutes, calves etc.). For different situations, they come in different weight and sizes but even more importantly, different firmness, and with/without contours. Here are some of the best-rated and most popular foam rollers available:

LuxFit High Density Foam Roller

LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller 6 x 18 Round - Extra Firm With 1 Year Warranty black
  • FOAM ROLLERS FOR MUSCLES - High Density Foam Roller is great for Physical Therapy, before or after Exercise, Yoga, and Massage Therapy. Foam Muscle Roller helps to relieve Muscle Tension and increase...
  • EXTRA FIRM FOAM ROLLER - Molded polypropylene foam technology has a 2 lbs. per cubic foot density, Smooth surface, Will not lose its shape after heavy use, and Repels Liquids.
  • 3 SIZES AVAILABLE FOR ALL YOUR NEEDS - 6x36, 6x18, 6x12. 36 Inch foam roller is our largest size. Black Foam Rollers are great for Back Pain and Back Exercises. Great for core stabilization, balance,...

If you want a traditional, high-density, extra-firm but smooth foam roller, this is it. While most traditional foam rollers (with no contours) tend to soften quickly with repeated use, this is a workhorse that is built to last.At its affordable price, it even comes with a 1-year warranty. This is a great foam roller for beginners. If you are new to SMR and not sure which foam roller to start with, look no further.

User Feedback
– “Extra firm for that deep-tissue massage feel after a hard work-out! Hurts so good!
– “I use on of these every time I go to BJJ. It’s 5 minutes of Heaven on my bad back every time I do.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

>> Click here to buy LuxFit High Density Foam Roller on Amazon << 

TriggerPoint Grid Roller

TriggerPoint 13" Multi-Density Foam Roller - Relieves Muscles, Improves Mobility
  • IMPROVE MUSCLE RECOVERY – Multi-density GRID features a three-dimensional surface that provides more efficient muscle recovery by promoting tissue aeration as you roll, while promoting the flow of...
  • OPTIMIZED FOR COMFORT – Unique foam construction with proprietary Distrodensity Zones is perfect to use on both tight, sore muscles, as well as soft tissue, for a more effective recovery experience
  • PERSONALIZED ROLLING EXPERIENCE – Multi-density GRID pattern of varying ridges and nodules replicate the feeling of a massage therapist's hands, allowing users to utilize different areas of the...

The Grid is Trigger Point’s flagship best-selling contoured foam roller. This foam roller has a multi-density surface with different contours for different applications. Trigger Point is one of the early pioneers of the hollow roller that deviated from the traditional solid foam rollers. The grid comes in 5 different colors and is constructed from the highest quality of materials for long-lasting usage. If you have been working out for any period of time, there is a good chance you have seen a Grid roller lying around at the gym. This is the trusted foam roller of fighters and athletes of every sports alike.

User Feedback
– “Great foam roller that will fix your muscle pain in minutes.
– “Best foam roller there is, nice and firm. Once you try it, every other roller will feel like your rolling on a big piece of popcorn.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

>> Click here to buy TriggerPoint GRID on Amazon << 

Rumble Roller

RumbleRoller Original Textured Foam Roller - Deep Tissue, Self Myofacial Release Massage Therapy Roller (RumbleRoller 12" Compact Size Original Foam Roller)
  • You’ll move better than you ever thought possible
  • Unique among foam rollers with its sturdy, textured pattern of bumps
  • The deep massage of the RumbleRoller not only relieves sore muscles, it digs into connective tissue and fascia to help circulate blood and oxygen for pain relief and faster muscle recovery

Fancy a thoroughly deep-tissue massage to work out the most stubborn of soreness? You better have a high pain tolerance. The Rumble Roller is available in somewhat-tolerable blue and an extra-firm torture-device black with bumps and ridges to mimic the kneading thumb actions of a massage therapist. This will be an intense experience, especially the first few times you use it. Recommended as an upgrade for the experienced foam roller user who needs a deep-action roll. If all other foam rollers have failed you, this is your last resort.

User Feedback
– “Looks medieval but surprisingly the chunky protrusions are not especially painful, while still giving you a good massage.
– “This is very durable and won’t lose it’s shape after being used over and over again.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

>> Click here to buy Rumble Roller on Amazon << 

Hyperice Vyper Vibrating Foam Roller

Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller - Black
  • BEST FOAM ROLLER ON THE MARKET Professional Athletes Choose VYPER Over All Other Foam Rollers Because Of The Unmatched Quality And Effectiveness
  • The VYPER is a cutting edge fitness and recovery device/roller that uses pressure and vibration to improve your overall performance
  • USED DAILY BY SOME OF THE BEST ATHLETES IN THE WORLD including Blake Griffin, Lebron James, Steph Curry, and Lindsey Vonn

For the ultimate cutting-edge self-massage experience, there is the vibrating foam roller. Foam rolling and vibration: whoever came up with this device is a certified genius. The firm Vyper foam roller gives a very strong vibrating massage as you foam roll the stiff and troubled areas. With two massaging actions in each roll, your achy woes will now melt away even faster. Just turn the vibration off, and you have your trusted old foam roller for your pre-workout warm-up and muscle loosening needs.

User Feedback
– “The HYPERICE VYPER is possibly one of the best things in decades!
– “If there were ever a product that should be labeled “professional” this is it.
Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

>> Click here to buy HyperIce Vyper on Amazon << 

A Quick But Important Note on Foam Rolling
I discovered it the hard way. While it feels good to roll fast and furious, applying excessive force and pressure on the affected area can end up aggravating it. Additionally, it may seem intuitive to roll on the troubled spot but staying too long on a sore area can worsen it too. It is also tempting to foam roll an injury immediately but this can cause bruising or worsen the inflammation.

Rather than constantly work on the area that causes pain, it is more effective to roll gently away from the troubled spot towards connecting area. If there is an injury, it is recommended to ice it for the first 24-48 hours before foam rolling so as to quell the inflammation. Incorrect usage of an otherwise beneficial tool can lead to muscle damage and extension of the recovery period.


Aches, soreness and pain are going to deter a lot of people from the sport right at the start. Some people develop fear and after 3 lessons, stop training altogether. I used to be really bothered with muscle aches when I started training. Muay Thai is a challenging sport and when you are riddled with body full of aches, this makes it even more challenging. However, if you put off training because you are feeling some form of ache, then you will probably never make it to the gym at all. It is a rare occasion when you will feel like you’re in your peak condition and ready to go in and kick like a boss.

To actually get better at Muay Thai (or any sport in general), you have to drag yourself to the gym on a day-to-day basis. If you have never experienced muscle soreness while training Muay Thai, you are NOT putting in enough effort. Your performance may be affected when you train but this is all part of the process of getting stronger. You have to embrace being bad, before you can get good at Muay Thai. With the right management and tools, most muscle soreness are manageable and you will be able to continue with training. (Inhibiting pain is another story altogether.) Now go and give your aching body a good roll today. You deserve it.

Chok dee!

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