How to Make a Foam Roller for About $10

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How to make a foam roller at home for about ten dollars
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Isn’t it great that as moms, we always have the time and money to go get a massage whenever we need one? I’m kidding, of course as most of us are lucky if we can squeeze in getting a shower between throwing a meatloaf in the slow cooker and cleaning a bathroom.

In fact, between the nursing, baby carrying, house cleaning, kickball playing, cleaning, and all the other mom jobs, I’d say that moms are pretty high on the list of people who need a massage. In fact, the list probably goes something like this:

  1. MMA fighters
  2. Moms
  3. Football players
  4. Professional rock climbers
  5. Stunt doubles
  6. Everyone else…

I joke of course, but the work of a mom can be stressful and physically demanding, and often difficult to have the time/resources to get a massage (or talk an equally tired hubby into giving one).

A Simple DIY Solution…Foam Roller

Before my current pregnancy, I was doing Crossfit most days (since I’ve had placenta previa in the past and a partial abruption, it wasn’t a good idea to keep doing heavy lifting and super high intensity until we knew where the placenta is).

One thing I missed about Crossfit (besides the burpees, of course) was the makeshift foam rollers they always had. Foam rolling was often recommended after workouts and there was an assortment of various types of foam rollers including a simple all-foam one that didn’t work for me at all and several homemade rollers made of PVC pipes.

Some of these foam rollers were covered with a soft foam and others were just pieces of 4 or 6 inch PVC pipe without a cover (these were the most effective, but painful).

I love my Rumble Roller that I’ve had for years, but it tends to be slightly painful when I’m pregnant and I wanted a smoother option. Since most foam rollers can be pretty pricey, I decided to make a DIY version of the simple rollers that I’d used at Crossfit that were so effective.

Why Foam Rolling?

From my experience, because it feels amazing, especially after a good workout, and can offer some of the same muscle relaxation as massage.

According to some sources, there are some other benefits to foam rolling as well, especially for muscle fascia.

Fascia is the connective tissue that covers muscles in the body. It can become tight, which might inhibit normal range of motion and lead to muscle stiffness. Specialized massage, called myofascial release can help release this tension in the fascia and increase range of motion (I once got a myofascial massage and it was by far the most effective massage I’ve ever gotten).

One study showed that foam rolling, a type of self myofascial massage, could increase range of motion without decreasing performance. (1)

Other studies have found that foam rolling made stretching more effective and promoted proper fascia development, as fascia is continually being created by the body.

Foam rollers are often called the “poor man’s massage” as they allow people to get the daily benefits of self myofascial release at home.

How to Make a Foam Roller

As I mentioned above, I have a Rumble Roller (a type of foam roller with bumps on it that works like a deep tissue massage) but preferred the smooth and firm homemade rollers at the Crossfit gym.

I realized I could easily make a PVC foam roller at home very inexpensively, and decided to give it a shot. It ended up being a very fast process and cost less than $10 (because I already had some of the materials on hand). Here’s what I did:

Foam Roller Materials:

  • A 2-foot length of PVC pipe (4 inch or 6 inch thickness)- I already had this, but I’ve seen prices range from a few dollars up to about $7 for a pre-cut length at home improvement stores
  • Some type of foam cover- I used a yoga mat I picked up at a thrift store (similar to this one) but rubber shelf liner or a rug pad will also work for a thinner cover. It is not necessary to use a foam cover, though straight PVC pipe can be too firm and painful for some people (including me!)
  • Duct tape – I already had this too

Foam Roller Instructions:

  1. Cut a 24-inch length of 4 inch PVC pipe. Many home improvement stores sell short sections already pre-cut but they are often more expensive than 8 or 10 foot lengths. If you only plan to make one foam roller, it may be easier to get the pre-cut length, but most places will cut these pipes at no cost in store, especially if they are not busy. For the price of making a single foam roller, you could easily get a longer length of PVC and have it cut into several sections, use the yoga mat to cover all of them and make 3-4 foam rollers as gifts, all for less than $20.
  2. Roll the yoga mat or other covering out on the floor and place the pipe at one end. Roll the PVC until it is completely covered with the mat and mark this point.
  3. Use a sharp scissors or a utility knife to cut the mat at this place.
  4. Wrap the cut piece of yoga mat around the PVC and tape along this line with duct tape. Use additional tape to tape around both sides to keep the mat from sliding.
  5. Congrats! You just made a foam roller…

How to Use A Foam Roller

This video shows how to use a foam roller for self myofascial release and muscle relaxation, and many personal trainers and functional movement specialists may also be able to provide instruction. The same cautions would apply to foam rolling as to massage, and of course, check with a doctor or health professional before using this, especially if you have a health condition.

Other Ways to Get Self Myofascia Release

Thanks to suggestions from my brother-in-law (a functional movement trained specialist), I’ve found a variety of simple tools that can be used for self myofascial release.

Besides this simple foam roller, I’ve also used lacrosse balls or tennis balls to target specific points or to roll out the bottoms of my feet. Also, while I feel a little ridiculous using it, I recently bought a Theracane to help target tight spots in my back and I’m amazed at how well it works (and costs much less than a massage). Another helpful tool is the MOBO system that offers many different options to work on problem areas from head to toe. Use code wellnessmama10 for 10% off.

These simple and inexpensive tools have let me get some of the benefits of massage at home in between meatloaf making and bathroom cleaning. Not quite as relaxing as a traditional massage, but I’ll take it!

Ever used a foam roller? Gotten a myofascial massage? Did it help you?

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

10 responses to “How to Make a Foam Roller for About $10”

  1. Salma Zindah Avatar
    Salma Zindah

    Hi Katie,

    I know you’ve described PVC as being the worst type of plastic and something to avoid in children’s toys, etc, but you’re using PVC here to create your own roller…which makes me confused. In that case, what is your opinion on using anti-fatigue kitchen mats, rug pads, etc. that are made of PVC. What about shower curtains?
    Thanks…

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      Since children are touching toys and even putting them in their mouths, plastic toys are more likely to effect them. Something like a foam covered roller wouldn’t have the same effect. A PVC shower curtain may release some toxins when exposed to the hot shower, water though, especially new ones which are still offgassing VOCs. Katie used an older pipe she had so it had time to offgass, and the pipe itself isn’t touching skin.

  2. harry Avatar

    You have written a great blog and it is very useful and he has changed me a lot and I will share this blog with all my friends and know about it. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Adam Avatar

    This post is great! It’s not always easy to make time for rolling out fascial tissue, but it can make wonders in your health and well-being to use mobility tools like this for increased blood flow and muscle recovery.

    Sometimes PVC itself is a little too much for the muscles, so please follow wellnessmama’s tips to make the PVC the right fit for you!

  4. Teresa Avatar

    I had myofascial release massage about 15 years ago that saved me from plantar fasciitis surgery! : )

  5. Melissa Avatar

    i’m wanting to try rolling but need to follow an instructional DVD. are there any you use or would recommend?

  6. Christy Avatar

    FANTASTIC! I have some old PVC pipe hanging around and can get a cheap yoga matt! I was not willing to fork out $50 or more for a roller, this will do just fine and I love the way they make your muscles feel, I have only used one on occasion at one of the gym classes where I am able to attend only part of the year. THANK YOU! As always, you come up with such useful tips!

  7. Melanie Avatar

    I made one of these a few years ago and now I find the ones at the gym too soft. This one will never wear out and you can’t beat the price!

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