Great Handbook: Foam Roller

We tend to like the succinct and consumer-friendly approach of the past "Great Handbooks" by Productive Fitness Products that take hand-holding and simple approaches to showing exercises for simple accessories and tools, such as stretch bands, stability balls and dumbbells. And this newest Foam Roller handbook is just as varied, amazing in exercise selection and thorough. But succinct it is not, and that's where it falls on its face just a bit.
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We tend to like the succinct and consumer-friendly approach of the past "Great Handbooks" by Productive Fitness Products that take hand-holding and simple approaches to showing exercises for simple accessories and tools, such as stretch bands, stability balls and dumbbells. And this newest Foam Roller handbook is just as varied, amazing in exercise selection and thorough. But succinct it is not, and that's where it falls on its face just a bit.

With 63 pages of instruction, it is incredibly dense, filled with small pictures, and is a mass of gray with text -- not exactly the consumer-friendly approach of the past. It tries to be all things to all people, covering all shapes and sizes of foam rolls as well as incorporating other equipment, such as tubing, door attachments and stability balls. But what it gains in really amazing thoroughness, it loses in friendliness.

We're not really sure, for example, that much of the public would really give two-twits that Exercise A is working the erector spinae or that Exercise B is working the teres major. There is even a rather detailed two-page chart of the muscles with all those anatomical names! All most normal folks will care to bother themselves with is whether it feels good and brings results in areas of their body known simply as back, hips or thighs.

Now, it's not that it's not well done. It is. Really, really, well done. Thorough, great exercises, and even easy-to-read and to-understand step-by-step instructions. But it is so dense with exercises that try to cover everything and the kitchen sink that we think many consumers may feel a bit overwhelmed or confused. The company could work around this by adding an index of sorts, a "quick picks" summary if you will, that delineates the top 10 or so exercises by either type of roll you have (long, short or half), goal (balance, hamstring rehab) or activity (running, climbing). That would be a great start.

Then we get into the Myofascial Release section in the last 12 pages. A foam roller is a superior tool for massaging and releasing muscles, but the first sentence sums up the problem in the book's over-complication: "The term myofascial release is actually self-explanatory." Really? Not to the consumer. Yes, it goes on to define "myo" and "fascia," but again we say, what consumer cares?

Now, that said, if the reader is a physical therapist, physical therapy assistant, personal trainer or group exercise instructor, or even just a really intense exercise enthusiast, this book will show them more than they want to know in very detailed fashion and can and will be The Ultimate Reference when it comes to using foam rollers. It's the consumer -- unless he or she is really dedicated -- who may get a little boggled by the intense detail without a little guidance.

SNEWS® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $10

For more information:www.productivefitness.com

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