When the Manta Foam Roller first arrived in the post I had mixed feelings about it. It looked very smart and came in smart packaging, but the ridges on it made me feel faint at the thought of rolling my delicate quads.
In the past I have suffered hugely with a bad back (in fact I dnf’d every ultra I started in 2017) and more recently my knees have been giving me problems. I know for both of these issues the reason I had problems was simply through not stretching and rolling regularly.
So, not only was I interested to see how the Manta roller worked out from a reviewer’s point of view, I was very interested to see if it would make a difference to some real issues I had.
- Designed by a professional osteopath
- Safe and Effective on the lower back
- Reaches muscles and joints other rollers cannot reach (bit like Heineken then)
- Reduces back pain and stiffness
- Improves muscle recovery and tone
- Designed for the whole body
I must admit it took a while for me to gather the courage to try it. I’ve seen other rollers on the market, huge things with knobbly bits all over, that I’ve honestly wondered how on earth they help.
Fear not however. My physio, Sally Fawcett, who was helping me with my knees over the summer, had introduced me to a new way of rolling which is far less aggressive than the traditional “roll like hell with your teeth gritted” method that I usually employed. She urged me to roll my quads very slowly, millimetres at a time, with BOTH legs on the roller at the same time.
So I approached the Manta roller with this technique in mind and it worked brilliantly. My quads are always very sensitive, particularly straight after a run, and this technique, together with the ridges on the Manta roller, really allows you to find each hard bit of muscle and work it out.
By doing both legs at the same time, somehow my legs slotted into; were almost cradled by; the curves of the roller. This works too when doing your calves and by watching the Youtube tutorials I learned new ways of rolling, including how to do the muscles on your shins (which are only on the outside of your shin apparently); a surprisingly satisfactory sensation.
Once my quads were used to the Manta, I was able to progress to the more traditional single leg roll, although I notice with interest Harry also suggests you roll slowly. It seems to me that the roller can act as a trigger release in this way, as well as massaging stiffness away.
I also really like the size of the Manta. Many races require weekends away and if I do throw my old roller in the car, it never makes it out at the other end. The Manta is small enough to be packed properly, its hollow construction allowing you to make use of its inner core, so you have no excuse not to take it away with you.
For completeness I had a go at rolling my back. I didn’t feel I particularly needed to, but I was curious to investigate the claims made by the founder, Harry, that this is the only roller capable of use on the lower back. The grooves for the spine really work. They allow the knuckles of the spine into the cavity in the centre, and so leaving them untouched, whilst being able to roll the muscles immediately either side of the bone.
I was surprised how much rolling my back helped my general stiffness. During lockdown I had been doing a lot of yoga and pilates but that fell by the wayside as I started training again. However, I was shocked at how stiff the muscles along my spine had become and it is now my routine to roll my back as well as my quads before going for a run.
This encourages blood flow, warming up the muscles before I start running and loosens my back which definitely has a knock on effect on the suppleness of the rest of my body. Rolling my quads takes away the stiffness in my knees which can be painful if I don’t roll when I first start running.
For a deeper, more intense, muscle release, you can roll one leg at a time along the central groove and I find that works the best on my hamstrings and glutes.
Pros of the Manta Foam Roller
Compact and easy to travel with; stylish (who knew a foam roller could be stylish?!); and it can be as hard or as gentle as you want it to be. I do think it’s good value for money as compared to the cheaper plain foam rollers you can get online, this is clearly a well made and put together bit of kit that will last.
Cons of the Manta Foam Roller
If you want to roll your back (and I definitely recommend you give it a try), you need to watch the how-to videos Manta supply. They have a Youtube channel with all their videos, as well as sharing them on their website. If you have used a roller before, you will be familiar with the techniques for rolling the legs, but if you are rolling your back you do need to get the technique correct so it is important to watch and learn how it should be done.
I really like this little roller. So long as I keep using it I think it will really help keep my muscles soft and supple and keep those niggles at bay. It gets my wholehearted recommendation and I wish this new company every success for the future.