This $24 portable foam roller does wonders for loosening up my sore muscles

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The original worm 2The Original Worm

  • A high-quality foam roller is durable, offers enough pressure to loosen up your muscles, and it maintains its shape after several sessions of heavy use.
  • I liked The Original Worm because it combines many of the benefits of a foam roller with that of massage balls. I could use it while sitting at my desk or driving, and it's small enough to take just about anywhere.
  • The price for The Original Worm is in line with that of other foam rollers (currently starting at $24 on Amazon), and Wormwide Products will give you a refund within 90 days of purchase if you are not fully satisfied.

The hardest part of starting a new exercise regime is getting into the habit. One of the barriers to heading back to the gym is sore muscles from your first couple of workouts. Your muscles aren't used to being pushed and need some time to recover.

One tool that can help speed your recovery and relieve your muscles is a foam roller. Austin-based Wormwide Products sent me The Original Worm - a device that combines massage balls and a foam roller - to test. Here are my experiences with it.

My first experiences with The Original Worm

The Original Worm comes in two colors, black and pink. Each style has four equally-sized balls contained within a non-removable neoprene cover. Neoprene is an excellent material because it's flexible in a wide range of temperatures, durable, and breathable. The roller comes in a mesh drawstring storage bag.

There are two sizes to choose from, 6.3 and 7.0. The 6.3 roller is about 9.5 inches long by 2.75 inches in diameter. The "6.3" refers to the 6.3-centimeter diameter of the lacrosse balls contained within. The balls in the 7.0 are made of rubber and are less firm than the 6.3's balls. The overall size of the 7.0 inches is 10.5 inches by 3 inches. Both options fit easily in a carry-on or a gym bag.

How The Original Worm performed

You essentially use The Original Worm the same way you would use a traditional cylindrical roller. You put the roller between the ground and the muscles you want to loosen up and allow gravity to do its work as you roll across the device. If you are new to self-myofascial release, or self-massage, the website for The Original Worm has a number of helpful videos to get you started.

Due to my active lifestyle and complete disregard for proper form, I suffer from chronic back pain. Therefore, I mainly use the foam roller to passively massage my back while sitting in my office chair or while lounging. And, on long drives, my back usually starts to act up. The Original Worm provided an easy way to self-massage while on the road.

As an avid runner, bicycler, and roller derby player, my feet and legs take a beating. I like that I can sit at my desk and roll my feet across The Original Worm. Or, I can get on the ground and really dig in. All I really need are the foam roller and gravity. The balls help keep the roller positioned under the muscles I want to work the most.

Wormwide Products sent me both the 7.0 in black and 6.3 in pink to test. I gave the 6.3 to a fellow roller derby player to test. She has much more experience using foam rollers than I do. She really liked how small it is. Yet, it was big enough for her to perform her more active self-massage exercises, including getting on the floor and really rolling out the quads, hamstrings, and IT bands. She found it helped her warm-up before bouts and recover afterward.

Some concerns about the foam roller

There isn't really an easy way to clean the entire foam roller. The manufacturer recommends wiping down the exterior of the roller, but if a protein shake were to burst open in your gym bag and drench The Original Worm, you'd have a hard time getting it completely clean since it may not be safe for your washing machine or dishwasher. You might try using the roller inside of the mesh bag it comes with. Then, you can machine-wash the bag when needed. That said, I've used the roller for a few months now, and it has not taken on any off-putting odors or stains. It also hasn't shown much wear.

For full-body stretches and rolling out your back muscles, you generally need a large foam roller of about 6 inches in diameter and 36 inches in length. The Original Worm is quite a bit smaller than that. So, you may still want to purchase a good large foam roller for at home.

Lastly, foam rollers aren't for everybody. If you don't have experience using a foam roller, you may find that it hurts at first. I generally only do the heavy-duty rolling when my muscles are incredibly sore. Otherwise, I don't feel like the pain of the self-massage is worth it. Fortunately, you can use The Original Worm for softer massaging or even tapping. For instance, as mentioned above, I often sit with the balls between my back and a chair while I work. I suggest that beginners start with the softer 7.0 balls.

The bottom line

Overall, I think anyone who regularly gets sore muscles should own a foam roller.

The Original Worm is a great solution because it's versatile, small enough to take with you wherever you go, and, most of all, it has the ability to soothe your aches and pains. The Original Worm is reasonably priced for a foam roller, and you can essentially test it out risk-free thanks to Wormwide Products' 90-day warranty.

Buy The Original Worm on Amazon starting at $24

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