As every race I signed up for in 2020 got canceled, I thought my daily running routine might disappear. But I own two Lab puppies, I value the state of my chew-mark-free home, and I’ve learned my lesson: a tired dog is a good dog. So I run most days—sometimes a few miles, sometimes much more—through the sandy arroyos of my backyard in northern New Mexico. This occasionally leads to cramps, but while a weird kink in my hamstring once may have earned me a rest day, try explaining an exercise-free morning to a puppy.
Now every time I feel a tight IT band coming on, the LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller: Extra Firm ($ 9) saves my life—and the longevity of my chair legs.
My partner, Will, and I are both long-distance runners, and we own four to six foam rollers between us. We have soft ones, firm ones, and ones with ridges. Our fanciest roller features “pressure points,” lime green ribs, and costs around $ 35. But the real beauty of the LuxFit is its simplicity. This thing has no bells or whistles, not even an intricate color scheme—it’s plain black. But it’s the roller we reach for most.
The cylinder measures in at a foot long and six inches wide, and it weighs next to nothing. Its dense EPP foam was made to smooth away aches and pains, and that’s exactly what it does. The roller is hard enough to apply some serious pressure to your problem spots, but not so hard that a rolling session becomes unbearable. (Don’t be fooled by the “extra firm” in the name; I’d rate this a medium softness on the scale of a fluffy pillow to a rock.) It also comes with a three-year warranty, but even after two and a half years of near daily rolls, ours is almost as good as new.
The LuxFit is also helpful for relieving back pain that crops up in the course of daily life. I find it’s the perfect way to undo the hours I spend slouched over my keyboard during the workday. Sometimes I don’t even roll it around: I just place it horizontally on the yoga mat beneath my upper spine and let it stretch out my tense shoulders and neck. Will, who’s a small-scale farmer, uses it before bed to massage his muscles after long days hunched over weeds and seeds. On more than one occasion, we’ve bickered about who gets to use it first in the evening or snapped at each other to hurry up and hand it over.
This humble foam roller has become a household favorite, transported from the living room to the bedroom to the kitchen throughout the week to be put to work. We pick it up as soon as we get back from the trails, and it slowly smooths out any knots and tightness we picked up along the way.