Many different companies sell a variety of Pilates rollers, which can make it difficult to choose the best one. A Pilates roller may be a full cylindrical shape or it may be shaped like a half-cylinder. It also can be made from one of several types of foam or even inflatable plastic. These rollers often come in a variety of lengths as well.
The most common type of Pilates roller is the full cylinder-shaped roller. It is often used as a prop during particular Pilates exercises, especially those that work to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles. It may also be used to stretch the muscles, lend support to weak muscles, and massage the body.
A half-cylinder-shaped Pilates roller is also available. Since the bottom edge is flat and it will not roll, it is typically not used as a prop to perform exercises. The primary use for this type of roller is to lend gentle support. For example, it can be propped under a person's neck, knees, or ankles to prevent overextension.
A Pilates roller is available in several different sizes. Typically, the standard roller is about 3 feet (0.91 m) long and 0.5 feet (0.15 m) in diameter. There are some rollers that are designed for people with smaller body frames. These rollers are usually about 2 feet (0.61 m) long and they may vary in diameter from 2 inches (about 5.1 cm) to 4 inches (about 10.2 cm). Generally, people should err on the side of having a longer roller rather than a shorter one.
There are several common materials that can be used to manufacture Pilates rollers. The most common is foam. Single density foam commonly is used because it is the least expensive, but it will not last as long as other types of foam because of its wide foam cells. High density foam, on the other hand, has tighter foam cells and is more expensive, but it also is popular because it is long lasting and will not lose its shape over time.
Even with the densest foam, the Pilates roller should mold subtlety to the shape of the body. Then, after the person has finished using the roller, it should return to its original shape. There are inflatable plastic foam rollers that can be used as well, and are often good for use while traveling. They simply inflate and deflate in a similar manner to an inflatable beach ball, making it easy to pack into a suitcase, purse, or briefcase.
In some roller styles, the corners are rounded. This makes it roll more easily, and it often is more comfortable for the user. In addition, the more dense foams are easier to clean, which helps prevent a buildup of bacteria, yeast, and fungus.
Many sports stores, athletic clubs, and gyms sell Pilates rollers. These are great places to try out a roller to ensure that it fits one's body. The Internet is also a great way to find a good deal on a new foam roller. In addition, many garage sales or yard sales advertise the sale of athletic equipment, making such sales a good place to find a deeply discounted price on an often slightly used roller.