When it comes to effective myofascial release I have always felt that there is a minimum set of tools you need to release all your muscles.
The first being, one standard foam roller, and the second being a set of massage balls of differing sizes and densities. Through using the right techniques these two tools can provide most of the muscle release and deep tissue massage you’ll ever need.
Despite my belief that you only need one foam roller, I decided to purchase the Rumble Roller (also a foam roller) to test whether it is as good as some of the reports have suggested, or whether it is just all hype.
This post is a quick write-up and review of my experiences and thoughts on the Rumble Roller. I’ll also cover who I think the Rumble Roller is best suited to, and how best to use it.
If you’re interested in either buying the Rumble Roller or looking for another myofascial release tool to take your massaging to the next level, this post is for you.
What Is The Rumble Roller?
The Rumble Roller is a type of foam roller designed to massage your body in such a way that it releases muscular tightness and knots in the body. To put it simply, after an effective foam rolling session, your body should feel looser and more flexible (for more information on the science behind this see my article on foam rolling).
A lot of foam rollers on the market have different types of surfaces; some are completely flat, some have very slight ridges and some have differently patterned ridges. All these different surfaces are designed to provide different pressures and angles for a deeper release than the traditional flat surface.
To be honest I have never found the ridges of any foam roller of any use. I have felt that the majority of foam roller manufacturers place random ridges and patterns so they can add another selling point to their products regardless of whether it is effective or not.
This is why I was initially skeptical of the Rumble Roller, but I decided to try it nonetheless.
The Rumble Roller is designed to take the idea of deep tissue release to the max by having the deepest grooves and bumps compared to most traditional foam rollers.
As I stated a moment ago, most foam rollers are either completely flat or their ridges are too small to penetrate deep into the muscles. For most users, a regular foam roller will do, but for others who are looking to hit deep into the muscles, they will need to look at other tools. This is where the Rumble Roller comes in.
My Need for a Specialised Roller
Before I ordered the Rumble Roller, I’d been foam rolling daily for around 2 years, as well as having tried many other myofascial release tools looking to dig into any trigger point I could find (and trust me there are and still are a lot!). At this point, I already had a good foam roller and was sure that I was starting to outgrow the idea of foam rolling since most foam rollers can only provide so much of a deep tissue massage. I had moved onto massage balls as my primary myofascial release tool.
However, I thought I would go in for one last purchase of a foam roller and try the Rumble Roller. I had come across the name a few times but didn’t think it would be that much different from other foam rollers with deep ridges. In the past, I had bought a cheap £10 one off Amazon which had similar deep grooved patterns but had found them ineffective (not to mention it also broke). The Rumble Roller is much more expensive and seemed much more specialised so I decided to give it a go.
Rumble Roller Options
The Rumble Roller is available with different variations, from size, colour and density. However, all models do not differ in the patterns and spacing of the bumps on the surface.
- Size – There are three sizes that are available. Full-size which is 31 inches long and 6 inches in diameter. Mid-size, 22 inches long and 5.5 inches in diameter. Compact, 13 inches long and 5 inches in diameter.
- Colour – The Rumble Roller comes in either blue or black.
- Firmness – There are two options of firmness. The Original firmness is deemed to mimick thumb pressure and is good for all body parts. The Extra Firm option is 36% firmer than the Original and is recommended only for experienced users.
Out of the options I chose the mid-size, black, and Extra Firm given that I was looking for a deeper release than normal.
The rest of the review is based on the Extra Firm option.
Quality and Durability
When it arrived there were a couple of things that immediately stood out. For one, it was much lighter than I thought. Compared to my Triggerpoint Therapy foam roller it was a lot lighter. I also really liked the size of the ‘Mid-size option’. The circumference is quite a bit smaller than my usual foam roller and much more compact.
The surface felt a little more plastic than I had expected rather than having a foam quality to it. The surface is a proprietary EVA/polyolefin blend and the surface feels strong and unlikely to tear even after long-term use. The Rumble Roller surface is also water-proof and latex free.
The Rumble Roller does not have a hollow core like a lot of foam rollers, which is one reason I was surprised it was so light. The Rumble Roller can achieve this lightness because the core is made of EVA foam.
So why bother filling the core with foam?
According to the manufacturer’s, this prolongs the life of the roller as it won’t crack or fatigue over time. In terms of quality, I have no doubt it is made from the best materials.
These were all nice traits, however, the most important question is how effective is it?
The Rumble Roller’s Effectiveness
When I first lay on it, I was surprised at how hard the ridges are. When I felt the ridges with my hands they felt somewhat soft, yet very firm. However, as soon as I lay on it, it felt as if the ridges suddenly turned into very hard plastic.
I expected some give to the ridges but they hardly allowed for any compression. As I rolled along my back it was a different type of massage than a conventional roller. I then rolled up and down different parts of the body and felt pain, but it wasn’t the type of pain associated with muscle release.
It was then that I realised I had been using the Rumble Roller all wrong. Most foam rollers are so soft or flat surfaced, that as you get over the initial pain of using a foam roller for the first time, you begin to roll faster and more repeatedly over a spot, rather finding a painful spot then holding it onto that spot.
This is what I was doing with the Rumble Roller. I was treating it like a traditional foam roller when it is anything but that. To get the best out of the Rumble Roller you need to move extremely slowly. You need to place your calf (or any other body part) on the Rumble Roller, then move slowly until you find a spot, then hold onto it.
Another technique that works well with the Rumble Roller is to rock your limbs from side to side to hit the muscle fibres in the correct way rather than rolling from top to bottom.
As I write this review I realise that the Rumble Roller already comes with all these suggestions but like most things I buy I never actually read the instructions! If you do buy the Rumble Roller, the manufacturers provide the user with helpful advice (this is unlike a lot of fitness companies who provide instructions of no real benefit but instead want use the opportunity to market to you instead).
Once I understood this concept, it was like I was foam rolling for the first time again! The original plateau I had reached with conventional rollers had been broken.
Body Parts the Rumble Roller Works Well On
I found that the Extra Firm Rumble Roller does not work well on bony areas.
Areas such as the shoulder blades, IT band, shin area and around the knee didn’t work well for me. The Rumble Roller’s grooves were too firm to work effectively in these areas and generated the wrong type of pain. I thought it would work well with the hamstrings, but I found that wasn’t the case as the ridges were too small. However, if you have never rolled out your hamstrings then it is better than a regular roller.
Personally, I felt the Rumble Roller excelled in these areas:
- Upper thighs
It is important to note that certain people may experience different results depending on how tight their muscles are in certain areas of the body.
Rumble Roller: Yay or Nay?
Overall, I am glad I bought the Rumble Roller. I was hesitant at first but over time I can see that it is going to prove to be a good investment.
I assumed when I bought it, that it would be the type of roller that I would be rolling up and down my thighs or calves quickly, however, I have learnt that this is not going to be the case.
The Rumble Roller is so firm and hits so deep into the muscle, that rolling quickly will be of no benefit as there isn’t time for the deep grooves to sink in. Rolling quickly will still be painful, and will provide some with relief, but it’s best used slowly.
The Rumble Roller is not like a traditional roller at all. In fact, when I think about it, I class it as a supplementary myofascial release tool to my traditional roller. I put it in the category of a Thera Cane or some other specialised tool.
Is it Suitable for Everyone?
Straight up answer. No. The Rumble Roller is not suitable for everyone (at least not the Extra firm option I tried, more on this below).
For the casual person looking to roll out large areas of muscles quickly, will likely find a firm conventional roller of more use. I would also not recommend that people who are new to foam rolling or myofascial release attempt to use the Rumble Roller. Although effective myofascial release should result in some pain, to a beginner, the Rumble Roller will be full body torture. The Rumble Roller is simply too firm.
If you have never foam rolled before then do not buy the Rumble Roller, at least not yet.
I would only recommend buying a Rumble Roller if you are no longer seeing results on an already firm conventional foam roller.
Newbie or Expert: Choosing The Right Firmness Is Vital!
That being said, it’s important for me to point out once again that I was testing the Extra Firm option.
I may have come to a dramatically different conclusion had I tested the original option. So if you are interested in the Rumble Roller you will have to make a decision on which density you need. All I can say is that Extra Firm does really mean Extra firm!
Before I purchased the Rumble Roller I had not noticed that the manufacturers had posted a guide on the differences in firmness (I did not buy directly from them).
On their page they provide a guide:
ORIGINAL: With very firm but flexible bumps, this model comes closest to mimicking thumb pressure. Great for all body parts, and works better around bony areas. Recommended for both beginners and experienced users.
XFIRM: Extremely firm (about 36% firmer than Original), and only recommended for experienced users with especially dense muscle tissue that doesn’t respond to normal massage pressure. This model does dig deeper into thicker muscles, but may be too painful to use on some body parts.
Based on my experience with the Extra Firm option I can say that their recommendation and advice is 100% accurate. If you are going to get a Rumble Roller, make your decision on the firmness using the advice above.
I did say that the Rumble Roller may not be suitable for beginners, however, based on the fact that the manufacturers say that the original is suitable for beginners, I trust their judgement.
Rumble Roller: The Final Verdict
If you do decide to go with the Rumble Roller it will do exactly what it is advertised to do.
It will hit the deepest trigger points and release muscle tension around the body. However, like all foam rollers, the Rumble Roller will not be able to provide the deepest massage to every single area of the body. Some areas of the body will still require the use of other specialised myofascial release tool depending on the body part.
In terms of quality, the Rumble Roller is a well-made roller which should last you a lifetime and is excellent value for money. I do not regret purchasing it at all.
The Rumble Roller is perfect for anyone who is obsessed with releasing every little trigger point that exists, and anyone who enjoys owning a vast array of myofascial release tools.
If this is your goal, then the Rumble Roller will suit you well. One word of caution is to ensure that you choose the right firmness to suit your needs and experience levels.