Daily wisdom: the new foam roller?

What you need to know about the latest recovery tool

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance.Sportand exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, andtechnologyhelp you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In ourdaily news series, Matt Berenc, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute, addresses some of the latest fitness research and news stories.

Today’s Topic: Trainers are raving about the Supernova ball, calling it the “new foam roller.” “Roughly the size of a grapefruit, it is made from dense nylon with a groove pattern all around the surface,” says Berenc.

EQX Expert Insight: Like the foam roller, the Supernova ball is a tool for self myfascial release (SMR). “SMR improves movement ability and tissue quality by applying targeted pressure to your muscles,” says Berenc. Unlike the roller, the ball has the ability to get into smaller, more specific spots on the body. For example, you can use it to target your hip flexors or to dig deeper into your glutes. The grooves on the surface also help create a shearing force. “This means that they grip your skin (trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds) and pull it with the rolling,” Berenc explains. “In SMR this is helpful because it can help increase blood flow and tissue movement.”

There's a variation in intensity between the two tools as well. Berenc suggests thinking of the difference between the foam roller and the supernova ball as you would stepping on a broad river rock and a small pebble respectively. “The pebble—or Supernova ball—is going to be a little more uncomfortable,” he says. But discomfort can be good or bad depending on the circumstances. “If you are particularly sore from a prior workout or when you can’t handle the higher intensity of the ball without tensing up (which is counterproductive), you’re better off with a foam roller,” Berenc says. “Also, the ball can be a challenge to use in certain positions such as for our mid to upper back and quads."

The Bottom Line:"The Supernova ball is a great addition to any training tool kit,” says Berenc. “Combined with a foam roller, you are able to have a significant impact on both movement and recovery.”