Do You Really Need a Vibrating Foam Roller?

foam rolling
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They are a workout staple, but the new generation of vibrating foam rollers comes with an on-off switch. Overkill? Here’s what you should know.

WHAT IS IT?
Your standard foam roller, or myofascial-release ball, with the addition of a motor.

HOW IT WORKS
Makers say vibrating rollers (like the Hyperice) speed recovery better than the low-tech type by emitting micropulses that boost circulation, enhance flexibility, and minimize pain.

THE VERDICT
“They seem to be more effective than the classic styles at penetrating deep into muscles and activating that tissue,” says Jordan Metzl, a sports-medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Research published in the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation finds the vibration may hinder pain signals coming from muscle, often associated with myofascial release. Small studies say a vibrating roller may ease muscle soreness in the days after a workout and help range of motion.

It’s easier to use, too. Flip it on, find a sore spot, and settle in until you feel a release.

So should you upgrade? “Think of it as your second line of defense if traditional foam rolling doesn’t cut it for you in releasing knots, boosting flexibility, or relieving pain,” Metzl says.