TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
Hyperice Vyper Vibrating Fitness Foam Roller
LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller
There was a time when foam rolling (also known as “self-myofascial release”) was the exclusive domain of pro athletes and physical therapists. In recent years however foam rolling – and by extension foam rollers – have emerged from the trainer’s room and been adopted by health conscious individuals everywhere. This outstanding type of self-serve physical therapy is used to facilitate various forms of exercise, to relieve muscle tightness and to aid in muscle recovery following workouts or sports injury. Below are the 12 best foam rollers on the market today.
The Best Foam Rollers
The first thing you’ll notice about the GRID Foam Roller from TriggerPoint is the camo design. If you’re still with it after that you’re in for a treat because this is an excellent medium density sponge roller whose innovative textured surface provides a range of benefits for those seeking to improve their range of motion or simply work out the kinks after a tough pull-up bar session. The GRID will support up to 500 pounds thanks to its rigid hollow core while the EVA foam shell ensures you’re not punished for your recuperative efforts.
Durable and lightweight
1 year limited warranty
Weight 1 lb
- BrandTrigger Point Performance
- Weight1.7 pounds
This type of high density foam roller is typically used in response to muscle tightness. In such cases you need a foam roller that will penetrate to the core of the muscle tissue and a soft roller simply won’t get the job done. The AB Round Foam Roller is fashioned from high density expanded polypropylene so it retains its shape regardless of what you put it through in your search for relief. In spite of the density of this roller it’s remarkably light at just over 1.2 pounds which means toting it around is no big deal. Make sure you also check our yoga mats guide for more great items like this.
36 x 6 x 6 inches
High density expanded polypropylene
Designed for deep muscle therapy
Weight 1.2 pounds
- Weight1.2 pounds
When your standard foam roller just isn’t getting the job done it’s time to think about the Hyperice Vyper 2.0 Vibrating Fitness Roller. This is not the only vibrating foam roller on the market but for our money it’s the best. While something like this isn’t necessary for everyone, those with stubborn muscle tightness or who historically have a hard time with muscle recovery will find this a life saver; or at least a muscle saver. You’ll get 2 hours of use out of a full charge on the lithium-ion battery and with 3 different vibration settings you’ll find just the level of massage therapy to relieve your stiff joints and muscle aches.
Alternating smooth and grooved surface
Rechargeable lithium-ion battery included
High density shell
Weight 3 lbs
- Weight3 pounds
If we were to use a single word to describe the Original Tiger Tail Massage Stick we’d have to go with “versatile”. This beautifully designed and engineered therapeutic massage stick is a foam roller with a difference. That difference is the dual soft ribbed rubber grips that let you take the therapy where you need it. Where standard foam rollers sometimes leave you twisting yourself into knots to reach out of the way places the Tiger Tail lets you attack them directly. Applying standard density designations is a bit tricky but suffice to say it’s the equivalent of a high density foam roller; just smaller. Be sure to also check our guide to the best knee sleeves.
Easy clean surface
11, 18 and 22 inch versions available
Tiger tail gription for firm, comfortable control
Weight 1.1 lbs
- BrandTiger Tail USA
- ModelNo Model
- Weight1.1 pounds
Sometimes you need to dig in and carve out relief. And sometimes you just need to massage your muscles gently to loosen up before a work out or to get your day off to a good start. The OPTP Pro-Roller Soft Density sponge roller allows you to work out the minor kinks and enjoy the benefits of a low impact massage. This is a classically simple therapeutic device that isn’t going to set the world on fire with its innovative design. But it doesn’t have to. From the closed cell construction and generous diameter to the agreeable surface and durability the OPTP Pro-Roller is a must have item for the physically or fitness active.
Cross-linked, closed cell construction
18 and 36 inch variants available
EVA foam core
Weight 3.1 lbs
- Weight1.59 pounds
This medium density foam roller from Yes4All supports up to 250 pounds and is intended for those times when you need something more than a light rubdown but something less than a Thai-massage-style deep muscle scour. Made in the US with non-toxic materials and available in a variety of lengths this is a high quality basic foam roller with myriad applications. While the company boast about their material being ‘heavier’ than that used by the competition don’t let that fool you. The 18 inch version weighs a scant 6 ounces.
18 inch length with 6 inch diameter
Supports up to 250 pounds
1 year satisfaction guarantee
Weight 12 ounces
- Weight12 ounces
When you really need to dig in and carve out the muscle release reach for the Master of Muscle Foam Roller. The surface of the MoM Foam Roller features two different textures: 1 that imitates finger pressure and 1 that emulates palm pressure. The high density foam ensures you get the most from the surface features as they push in to break down resistance, soften scar tissue and get the blood flowing again. At 13 inches wide it’s smaller than it appears which allows you to tuck it into your gym bag and take it along to the yoga class for some on the spot post-workout therapy.
Compact size fits in any gym bag
Textured surface works muscles effectively
Comprehensive refund/replace guarantee
Weight 3.2 ounces
- BrandMaster of Muscle
- Weight3.2 ounces
The ProSource Sports Foam Roller provides the firmness you need to really work out the kinks while the articulated surfaces optimizes the force you apply. This compact therapeutic appliance uses a high density shell over an EVA foam-filled interior to keep things light but ensure effective projection into the muscle mass. The roller comes in 13 and 24 inch widths and is 6 inches in diameter. That’s perfect for average to above average sized individuals but might be a bit large for smaller folks. The 13 inch version can be easily packed away in the gym or duffel bag while the 24 inch makes a great addition to the home gym.
EVA foam interior
High density shell for max penetration
Weight 1.5 lbs
- Weight1.5 pounds
Rolling With It have produced a fine, minimalist workout aid in their Foam Roller. It’s simple, unadorned construction uses recycled/recyclable medium-density EVA foam that’s non-porous so it won’t soak up your sweat and sports a smooth surface that brings firm but gentle force to bear on your aching muscles. There are no mysteries here except perhaps how to utilize such a device in order to optimize your results. And to that end Rolling With It provide a complementary guide and tutorial with every roller. Make sure you also check our guide to the best back braces.
Available in 13, 18 and 36 inch variants
100% satisfaction guarantee
Weight 1.4 lbs
- BrandRolling With It
- Weight1.4 pounds
Nothing fancy here, just a simple and effective high density foam roller from LuxFit that provides the firmness you need to iron out the kinks. The LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller is aimed squarely at those who need to apply firm, even pressure to tight muscles in order to work out knots and bring them back online before leaving the club or leaving the house. In spite of the solid feel of the roller it tips the scales at a trim 7 ounces. The 18 inch version will set you back about the price of a T-shirt and provide the kind of long term benefits that define value.
High density molded polypropylene
12, 18 and 36 inch variants
Durable surface won’t flake or chip
Weight 7 ounces
Like the LuxFit the OPTP AXIS Foam Roller is pure high density simplicity that brings the relief for overworked crossfitters, runners, weight lifters, dancers, those working with resistance bands and more. Constructed from high-density, high-quality EPP foam the AXIS is nimble enough to hit all the trouble spots and well made enough to return to its original shape time after time. The AXIS is heat molded to ensure it doesn’t lose structural integrity or otherwise breakdown no matter how hard you push it. And the surface won’t absorb your sweat and cleans up easy when you’re done.
High density closed cell EPP foam
36 x 6” overall dimensions
Easy clean up
Weight 1.6 lbs
- Weight1.6 pounds
The last item on our list is the Gaiam Restore Foam Roller. This is another ultra-simple, affordable sponge roller that works overtime to reach those areas deep inside your muscles that resist soft foam rollers. There’s no magic here just a well-made 6” diameter molded polypropylene roller that won’t crack, flatten out or chip, even during the heaviest workout. Relieve stress and strain on your lower back, increase circulation in your legs and hit all your trigger points effectively with the Gaiam Restore Foam Roller.
Instructional DVD included
18 inches wide
Helps promote better circulation
Lightweight and compact
- Weight10.4 ounce
Foam Roller Buyer’s Guide
How We Chose Our Selection of Foam rollers:
- Quality – The quality of a foam roller is largely a subjective matter, yet we still search for objective criteria by which to judge. As such we look primarily at foam roller benefits as well as objective qualities of firmness, comfort, noise levels, versatility and durability.
- Price – While we take price into consideration when selecting the best foam rollers we’re far more concerned with value. A cheap roller that performs well and lasts a long time is, in our considered opinion, a better value than an expensive roller that loses its integrity after a month of use.
Features To Look For In Foam Rollers:
- Size – 36 inch foam rollers are typically used on large areas of the body like the torso, (specifically the back), the hamstrings and the quads. For calves, arms, neck and even feet most folks will use a smaller roller; something 18 or perhaps 24 inches wide. As for diameter, the majority of foam rollers are 5 to 6 inches across. This is fine for most people but others who may be more diminutive typically find a 6 inch roller to be a bit much. Not to worry though. Smaller diameter rollers are available, including the Original Tiger Tail Massage Stick profiled above.
- Firmness – The firmness of a foam roller equates to its ability to penetrate deep into the muscle to work out knots and alleviate stiff joints. Low-density rollers will provide the least penetration and are typically employed to achieve effects roughly equivalent to a spa massage. While high-density rollers are used to work the muscle aggressively in order to obtain relief from deep seeded tightness. They are, in effect, the rough equivalent to a traditional Thai massage. Meanwhile medium-density rollers are soft enough to provide some low impact relaxation but stiff enough to smooth out more stubborn rough spots if you encounter them.
- Shape – Foam rollers come in a few different shapes. There are half-round rollers that are basically the standard round roller cut in half lengthwise. These are used to massage the arches of the feet and to supply support for various types of leg stretches. Then there are roller sticks like the Tiger Tail we just mentioned. These allow for more precise control. And then there are standard foam rollers that make up the bulk of the products on our list. These are simple in concept and have wide ranging applications for the entire body.
- Texture – When it comes to foam rollers most people start with smooth surface rollers. These are low impact and allow for the more or less even distribution of pressure across the targeted area. Smooth rollers also have the advantage of being a bit cheaper (not that any foam rollers are going to break your bank). Textured foam rollers are usually preferred by foam roller veterans who, after much roller experience, understand exactly what works and what doesn’t. They then choose a textured roller to target specific areas they felt were underserved by smooth rollers. Often experienced rollers will have several different kinds of rollers at the ready, including ones with various kinds of textured surfaces.
- Durability – Most of the best foam rollers are extremely durable. Even the standard polyurethane roller should last a good long time even with frequent use. Still, if durability is a specific priority for you, you might want to consider one made of EVA foam.
Types of Foam Rollers:
- Low-density foam rollers – The standard medium-density foam roller is sometimes a little too firm for a person who is new to this type of muscle therapy. In those cases it’s often a good idea to go with a low-density sponge roller until you get used to the concept, the feel and become adept at manipulating the device. Low-density rollers are good for alleviating soreness after a workout or to achieve an overall sense of relaxation at the end of a long day.
- Medium-density foam roller – Medium-density foam rollers are considered standard because they have the widest number of applications. They can be gentle if you like or you can apply more pressure and really let them dig in. Anyone serious about using foam rollers to obtain muscle relief should have at least one in their closet or gym bag.
- High-density foam rollers – High-density rollers are commonly used by pro athletes, trainers, massage therapists and others who are adept at manipulating rollers to obtain specific results. You should know what you’re doing before diving in with a high density roller or you may be put off by the stiffness. High-density rollers are typically made of EVA foam which has excellent tensile strength and is quite durable.
- Short foam rollers – You will have noticed when reading through the above list that many rollers are available in a variety of lengths. When choosing a roller for yourself you’ll want to keep the length in mind. A short roller will fit easily into most gym bags. As such it can be brought, for example, to the starting line of the race to help you loosen up before the gun. Longer rollers will be harder to tote around and so are normally found in health clubs or home gyms.
- Bumpy foam rollers – Bumpy or textured foam rollers attempt to mimic the hands of the masseuse. They can have knobs that imitate fingers, flat areas that imitate palms and/or ridges that emulate the side of the hand or knuckles. Learning how to make the most of textured surfaces will take time but most roller vets will tell you it’s worth it.
Foam Roller FAQs
Q: What are foam rollers?
A: A foam roller is a combination exercise and therapeutic device that provides the user with a variety of applications related to the muscular system. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes as noted above and may be used to facilitate a specific exercise or work out knots, muscle cramps, stiff joints or problem areas known as “trigger points”. The process of working one’s muscles in such a way is called “myofascial release”.
Q: What are foam rollers used for?
A: Foam rollers are used in stability exercises, to relieve muscle aches and pains and to help recover from sports injury. Foam rollers are one of the most effective ways yet devised to relieve muscle tension, alleviate stress and restore flexibility. They are also widely used to augment exercise routines and are a common fixture in Pilates and yoga classes. In such settings rollers are used to produce a type of physical instability that demands a response from the body’s core. This response typically leads to strengthening of the muscles and an increase in overall flexibility.
Q: How to use foam rollers?
A: Foam rollers have many different potential applications. The following tips will help you make the most of their therapeutic possibilities.
- Position the foam roller under the area you wish to treat.
- Make sure you are properly balanced and roll the affected area back and forth over the roller.
- Typically you’ll want to work from the center of the area outward.
- Hold your position when the roller hits a particularly tight or troublesome area. When you feel the area soften, move on.
- Roll over each affected area until it feels relaxed and loose.
- Try to avoid rolling directly over joints or bones.
Q: How often and for how long should you use it?
A: Use a foam roller when you are experiencing muscle stiffness or if you want to warm your muscles up a bit before working out. You should avoid using the foam roller every day, particularly when you are just starting out. Keep your first session short and low impact. Perhaps no longer than 15 minutes each. As time goes by you can gradually increase the length of your sessions and begin using a higher density roller.
Q: Is it normal for the foam roller to feel painful when using it?
A: Foam roller exercises and therapy sessions can increase muscle strength or provide comprehensive relief from muscle tension and stiff joints. However, just as a deep penetrating massage can be painful at times so too can a foam roller session. You should not be concerned about experiencing a bit of discomfort or even pain, as long as that pain doesn’t have you in tears. While the session itself may produce discomfort you should end up feeling loose and relaxed and any pain should dissipate quickly. If pain persists after your session or even worsens stop using the device and contact your doctor.