Prior to using the black Rumble Roller, I've never done any foam rolling before.
I remember when I first read about foam rolling and saw pictures and videos of people laying on the floor and rubbing various parts of their body on a large blue (and sometimes black) cylinder, it looked a bit weird to me…almost disturbing.
Foam rolling looked like something that should be done alone, in private.
But after a little more research into this "self myofascial release", and being sick and tired of being tight and stiff from weight training on a regular basis, I decided to give foam rolling a shot.
I wanted the best foam roller on the market, and my internet research had lead me to the Grid, and the Rumble Roller.
Ultimately I decided on the Rumble Roller simply because those ‘spikes’ look pretty damn cool, and intuitively it seemed as though it would work better.
There are 2 types of Rumble Rollers, and 2 different sizes.
Blue Vs. Black Rumble Roller
There’s the softer, blue Rumble Roller, and the stiffer and harder black Rumble Roller. I’ve read it was recommended to people who do not have any experience foam rolling use the softer blue one.
I don’t have any foam rolling experience at all (besides pressing my back against my B&R bar...which is not exactly “foam”) but I decided against the blue roller because I knew that in time, my pain tolerance would increase and eventually I would need to upgrade. If I went with the black Rumble Roller right from the start, then I would not need to upgrade to anything (I’m not even sure if there’s anything else better on the market).
Also I heard once you go black you never go back. So I decided on the stiff black one first instead of the softer blue roller even though I didn’t have any foam rolling experience, because I figure I'll end up upgrading to the firm one anyways.
Compact Vs. Full Sized Rumble Roller
Next was the decision to go with the smaller, cheaper travel sized Rumble Roller, or the full sized version.
At first I was leaning towards the travel roller, thinking it would be more convenient to carry around.
But then I realized that I would be using this thing mostly at home.
Also, I'm guessing you can't do as many foam rolling exercises compared to the larger one.
So I went ahead and ordered my first foam roller - the full sized black Rumble Roller.
When it finally arrived at my door and I took it out of the box, first thing that hit me was that it smells like Crocs shoes, and it looked like some sort of modern day torture device.
The Rumble Roller looks pretty damn cool, especially when compared with other foam rollers on the market.
This thing looks like a giant penis sleeve a miniature Sheepsfoot roller, like the one shown below:
…or one of those handheld massager or wooden foot massage that I see all the time in Chinatown:
The bumps on the Rumble Roller is supposed to mimic the thumbs of a massage therapist.
Here’s what the official website have to say about these bumps:
As you roll over the top of the RumbleRoller, the bumps continuously knead the contours of your body, gently stretching soft tissue (muscle and fascia) in multiple directions. This action erodes trigger points, helps restore flexibility, and brings quick relief to common types of muscular pain. By design, the RumbleRoller's bumps are firmer than muscle tissue, but much softer than bone, so they deflect out of the way if they contact your spine or other bony protrusions.
Even though the Rumble Roller has a ton of bumps, to be honest, I can’t really feel them. For me, it’s hard to feel each individual bump when there are multiple bumps digging into my body.
I've read that some people are bothered by the smell of the Rumble Roller.
There is a distinct smell to it. But it does not smell like rubber as some people would describe. (The flooring in my home gym are made of rubber, and they have a car tire smell).
For me, it reminds me of Crocs shoes, which has a distinct, artificial plastic/rubbery smell. If I close my eyes and take a whiff of the Rumble Roller, it feels like I’m inside a Croc store, or some other shoe store that sells a lot of Croc knock-offs.
If you don’t mind the smell of Crocs, which smells pleasant to me, then you probably won’t be bothered by the Rumble Roller. It will take a few days for the smell to dissipate, so eventually the odor will go away.
At this point, I don’t even smell it anymore.
The instructional manual shows some basic exercises...which is great for me since I’ve never used a foam roller prior to this one.
The black Rumble Roller will take some time to get used to.
At first, rolling on the black Rumble Roller was torture! I have never used a foam roller before, and I was essentially jumping into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim.
After the first session, I needed to take a day off from foam rolling, simply because my body felt tender.
Over time, I’ve built up pain tolerance to the point where it’s quite comfortable rolling on the Rumble Roller.
Short term pain for long term gain, and developing pain tolerance takes a bit of time and patience.
If you bruise easily, it might be better to use the blue Rumble Roller, because the black one is quite stiff. Apparently it’s 36% softer than the black version.
It’s painful when rolling on the Rumble Roller, but I feel great after. It's as if all this pain is causing my body to release endorphins. I'm not sure if this is the case, but it sure feels good.
Recently I’ve tried rolling on a regular foam roller, and it felt like a soft fluffy pillow compared to the Rumble Roller.
I guess they were right: once you go black you’ll never go back.
How I Use The Foam Roller
These days, I use the Rumble Roller as:
1) A warm up
2) Massage on off days
The act of being on the floor and moving my body over the roller through various positions gets my heart rate up, and I work up a bit of a sweat.
I find that my mobility is increased after rolling my back, IT band, quads, adductors and whatever muscles I’m forgetting. I can squat deeper without any aches if I do some foam rolling before touching a barbell. The Rumble Roller has now become an essential tool for my warm ups.
On my off days, I find using the Rumble Roller helps me become less stiff and walk around like a normal person rather than a slow moving zombie. It also appears to reduce DOMS, at least temporarily.
For the psoas, I find that using the Rumble Roller isn’t as effective as a lacrosse ball. Even with all the bumps, the Rumble Roller feels too blunt to really dig into the psoas muscles, which is where the lacrosse ball excels.
For the bottom of the feet, the lacrosse ball does a better job than the Rumble Roller as well.
For pinpoint accuracy on a knot, small or hard to reach muscle, use a lacrosse ball.
Otherwise, the Rumble Roller is my go-to tool for self mysofascial release.
After extended use, the bumps on the Rumble Roller has developed some wrinkles:
However, this more of an aesthetic issue because it doesn’t affect the performance of the roller. The bumps are still the same shape and haven’t flattened, and it’s still a pain in the <insert muscle group here>.
In other words, it still does the job despite the wrinkles.
At around $70, the full sized, extra firm black Rumble Roller is expensive when compared to other foam rollers.
But I subscribe to the belief that generally, you get what you pay for.
It cost less than one massage session in North America, and it’s a tool that I use 3-5 times per week that will last for a few years at least.
The way I see it, I’ll be using the Rumble Roller frequently over time, so the overall cost per use will be low.
The Rumble Roller looks durable and I bet it will last me for years.
Lastly, I don’t know if there is a better foam roller, so there is really nothing to upgrade to. This may be the last foam roller than I buy!
(I could get the smaller, portable Rumble Roller for travel purposes, but that’s about it).
And yes, you could spend a few dollars and make yourself your own homemade PVC foam roller. That’s fine, but personally I’d rather save the time and effort and spend a bit of cash for a top of the line foam roller.
I am now a believer and practitioner of foam rolling. And what better way to do it then to roll with the best foam roller on the market: The Rumble Roller.
If you’ve never foam rolled before and have a low tolerance for pain, the softer blue Rumble Roller might be suitable for you.
But if you already have foam rolling experience and/or want a hard, stiff foam roller, go with the black one.
And don’t take my word for it. Check out what Charles Stanley has to say about the Rumble Roller: