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Foam rollers should be a mainstay in any home gym. Not only do they provide that hurts-so-good sensation when you roll over a tight muscle, but regular foam rolling has also been linked to increased muscle force, better range of motion, improved blood flow and reduced injury risk. In the physical therapy world, this method of pain management is called self-myofascial release (a fancy phrase that means giving yourself a muscle tissue massage).
If the idea of less muscle soreness or a post-workout cool down sounds appealing, you’re in luck! The ACTIVE Reviews Team has done roll call and found our top picks for the best foam rollers that will help you feel like new. Once you’ve found the best fit, you’ll see why foam rollers are recommended by countless massage therapists, physical therapists and personal trainers.
Best Foam Roller - Our Top 11 Picks
- Best Overall Foam Roller - TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
- Best Travel Foam Roller - Brazyn Morph Bravo Collapsible Roller
- Most Versatile Foam Roller - Roll Recovery R4
- Best Portable Roller - Tiger Tail Massage Stick
- Best Medium-Density Foam Roller - OPTP LO ROX Aligned Foam Roller
- Best Budget Travel Foam Roller - Gaiam Restore Compact Foam Roller
- Best Foam Roller for Trigger-Point Release - TRX Rocker Myofascial Tool
- Best Vibrating Foam Roller - Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller
- Best High-Density Foam Roller - AmazonBasics High Density Round Foam Roller
- Best Half Foam Roller - OPTP PRO-Roller Soft Half Foam Roller
- Most Affordable Foam Roller- LuxFit High Density Foam Roller
Best Overall Foam Roller - TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
The TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller is the closest thing you can get to a deep tissue massage without having to go to a masseuse. The foam roller’s different ridges mimic the feeling of a massage therapist’s hands: The high and firm points are like fingertips, the tubular section are the "fingers" and the low and flat portion is like the palm. This allows you to customize your self-massage experience every time you use the roller.
For foam rolling beginners, the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller comes with access to an online video library, so you can learn how to properly use it for everything from relieving lower back pain to reducing muscle adhesions. And because it's made with extra-firm EVA foam, the same material used on bike seats and MMA gloves, it can withstand thousands of rolls. It also makes it easier to clean after each use.
- Key Feature: Textured zones to mimic a massage therapist’s hands
- Footprint: 5.5" D x 13" L
- Materials: Hard, hollow core wrapped in EVA foam
Best Travel Foam Roller - Brazyn Morph Bravo Collapsible Roller
Muscle tightness waits for nobody’s travel plans. That’s why people on the go trust the Brazyn Morph Bravo Collapsible Roller for instant massage therapy, regardless of where they are. It has an easily collapsible core, which allows it to shrink to just 1.85 inches in height (about as tall as two T-shirts). When in use, it’s the size of a traditional foam roller with the added benefit of having textured ridges all throughout to target multiple muscle groups.
The Brazyn Morph Bravo Collapsible Roller is used by NFL, NBA and MLB players, along with WWE wrestlers, all of who know a thing or two about frequent traveling. You might balk at the $69 price tag, but keep in mind this roller had all four Shark Tank judges fighting for a chance to get in on the product. If that’s not a sign this is a wise investment, we don’t know what is.
- Key Feature: Collapsible core for easy portability
- Footprint: 5.5" D x 14.5" L (1.85" H when collapsed)
- Materials: Low-density foam; bamboo and aluminum
Most Versatile Foam Roller - Roll Recovery R4
Roll Recovery collaborates with physical therapists and professional athletes to design its products, which explains why the Roll Recovery R4 is the most versatile foam roller on the market. It was specifically designed to target IT-band stiffness, has a spinal and neck alignment center groove and the diamond pattern provides a better grip as you roll.
The Roll Recovery R4 is a little larger in both size and weight than most foam rollers, so it may not be the best for your gym bag. But if you’re looking to improve range of motion or muscle recovery on various parts of your body, look no further.
- Key Feature: Specific sections to target different muscle groups
- Footprint: 6" D x 18" L
- Materials: EVA foam
Best Portable Roller - Tiger Tail Massage Stick
The Tiger Tail Massage Stick is a handheld foam roller you can use to get rid of muscle knots wherever you are. It’s only 18 inches in length—still long enough that people of different sizes can use it—and weighs less than a pound, so you’ll barely notice it in your backpack or suitcase. Plus, it’s easy to use: Simply roll the cushioned center over your upper back, hamstrings, quads, glutes or any other body part for instant massage therapy.
Made with hospital-grade material, the Tiger Tail Massage Stick is a foam roller that will last for years to come and is great for anyone with latex allergies (since many similar body rollers use rubber, which can cause allergic reactions). Additionally, this roller won’t be damaged by or absorb any cleaning products, so maintenance is a breeze.
- Key Feature: Handheld, made with hospital-grade materials
- Footprint: 1.5" D x 18" L
- Materials: Thermoplastics
Best Medium-Density Foam Roller - OPTP LO ROX Aligned Foam Roller
Not too soft and not too hard, the OPTP LO ROX Aligned Foam Roller has just the right amount of density to roll out your aches without bruising you up. This roller was also designed by Lauren Roxburgh, a professional structural integration practitioner who specializes in body alignment. She’s used this roller on elite athletes, and it’s helped them recover after intense games and training sessions.
The OPTP LO ROX Aligned Foam Roller comes with tiny nubs to target each muscle and prevent you from slipping. Because it’s longer than most foam rollers, you can also target your entire back with it and even use it for yoga exercises. While it’s a little more expensive than some, its durable EVA foam construction ensures your purchase will be well worth it.
- Key Feature: Moderate density
- Footprint: 6" D x 36" L
- Materials: EVA foam
Best Budget Travel Foam Roller - Gaiam Restore Compact Foam Roller
Looking for a quality foam roller that costs less than $20? The Gaiam Restore Compact Foam Roller is a little bigger than an extra-large coffee cup but still does a great job at working the soft tissue and connective tissue (formally known as fascia) of the muscle groups in your arms and legs. Plus, it’s lightly textured, ensuring you won’t slip while using it.
The Gaiam Restore Compact Foam Roller may be travel-friendly, but because of its compactness, it can only be used on a single limb at a time. People of larger sizes may also have difficulty using it. That said, if you’re the right size for it, it’s great to bring to Pilates class to warm up or while traveling.
- Key Feature: Compact
- Footprint: 4" D x 12" L
- Materials: Foam
Best Foam Roller for Trigger-Point Release - TRX Rocker Myofascial Tool
Trigger points are a particularly acute form of muscle soreness that feel like little knots under your skin. The good news is, they can be eliminated with trigger-point release, and the best foam roller for that is the TRX Rocker Myofascial Tool. The ridges and back-and-forth motion meant to be used with this muscle roller is specially designed to get those knots out and keep your muscles feeling loose.
The TRX Rocker Myofascial Tool comes with three levels of intensity zones—gentle, moderate and deep—so you can decide how much force to apply to your muscles. Want a bigger foam roller? You can upgrade this one to be 26 inches in length, as opposed to the standard 13 inch option.
- Key Feature: Designed for trigger-point release
- Footprint: 6" D x 13" L (also available in 26" L)
- Materials: Foam
Best Vibrating Foam Roller - Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller
Research has shown that vibrating foam rollers aren’t just a gimmick, and that they’re more effective at penetrating deep into muscle tissue than traditional rollers. The Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller comes packed with a 40-watt motor and three speed settings, low, medium, and high for a customizable experience. A rechargeable battery gives you more than two hours of use per charge.
Like Hyperice’s other products, the Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller is quiet, so it won’t disturb people next to you. And unlike other vibrating rollers, the EPP foam is lightweight enough so you still feel maximum vibrations yet durable enough so it’ll last you for a few years.
- Key Feature: Vibrating motor for deeper muscle tissue penetration
- Footprint: 5.75" D x 11.75" L
- Materials: EPP foam
Best High Density Foam Roller - AmazonBasics High Density Round Foam Roller
Are you someone who likes a little extra firmness? Go for the AmazonBasics High Density Round Foam Roller, which excels because of its simplicity. It’s a very solid, hard piece of foam that delivers intense pressure to your muscles. Reviewers said this gave them one of the deepest self-massages they ever had.
The AmazonBasics High Density Round Foam Roller comes in four different length sizes, but the firmness never varies. When we say this is the best high-density foam roller, we mean it. There’s basically no give to this thing, which is great if that’s what you’re looking for. If you like some cushion, though, look elsewhere.
- Key Feature: Ultra firm foam
- Footprint: 6" D x 12" or 18" or 24" or 36" L (pick your desired length at checkout)
- Materials: Molded polypropylene
Best Half Foam Roller - OPTP PRO-Roller Soft Half Foam Roller
Half foam rollers don’t just save on space, they’re also used to get a more targeted massage (you can more accurately pinpoint the exact spot of pain with them) and are great for rolling out your feet. The OPTP PRO-Roller Soft Half Foam Roller can be used for that, along with stability and balance exercises. It has a soft density meant to provide maximum comfort while rolling out your IT-band or rehabbing an injury.
Reviewers loved the OPTP PRO-Roller Soft Half Foam Roller because it reminded them of body rollers they used during physical therapy. Many said they found it great for beginners since it’s harder to fall off, as well as great for opening up the chest, back and shoulders.
- Key Feature: Specific muscle targeting
- Footprint: 3" D x 36" L
- Materials: EVA foam
Most Affordable Foam Roller - LuxFit High Density Foam Roller
If you’re just looking for the bare minimum in a foam roller, go for the LuxFit High Density Foam Roller. The 12-inch option is only $9.99, and the 36-inch one is $26.92. Plus, it comes with an included three-year full warranty, so you can get another if it does break on you. You won’t find much better value for a foam roller than this.
Although it may be affordable, the LuxFit High Density Foam Roller does everything a pricier foam roller does: promote blood flow, relieve muscle tightness and keep its shape after many, many rolls. Countless reviewers said that the aches and pains they had for years were gone once they used this body roller. It is a high-density roller, meaning it might not be the best for beginners or those looking for a more soothing experience.
- Key Feature: Affordable, ultra-firm
- Footprint: 6" D x 12" or 18" or 24" or 36" L (pick your desired length at checkout)
- Materials: Molded polypropylene foam
What to Look for in a Foam Roller
Foam rollers may look simple enough, but there are a few key things you should look for in one.
You know how some people like softer beds while others prefer a firmer mattress? The same philosophy applies to foam rollers...kind of. Yes, your preference may play a big part in it, but the density you choose may also come down to why you’re using a foam roller inn the first place, as well as your experience using one. We’ll break down the three density levels here.
Soft-density foam rollers are less rigid and provide the most cushion when you roll on them. This means they’ll feel good on your sore muscles, but you won’t get the sensation of a masseuse's hands digging into the knots you really need untangled. It also means these rollers will lose their shape faster. On the bright side, they’re great for beginners because you can teach yourself proper technique before moving up in firmness.
Medium- or moderate-density foam rollers are exactly what they sound like. You’ll get plenty of firmness but some cushion as well. These are typically used by people who foam roll with some frequency before and after workouts, or during Pilates or yoga class. As you could probably guess, they’ll keep their shape a little longer than soft-density rollers but not as long as...
High-density foam rollers are rock-solid firm, and while that might sound uncomfortable, they provide a lot of benefits. For one, you can have a more concentrated pressure on your tight muscles, and you won’t have to roll for quite as long to get that sought-after relief. Again, it’s that hurts-so-good feeling that’s unpleasant for a second before you enter into a state of catharsis. Because they’re so firm, they’ll keep their shape the longest.
You’ll want to pay more attention to a foam roller’s length than its diameter (which is usually anywhere from three to six inches). Shorter foam rollers, those in the 12- to 24-inch range, are generally called short rollers and are better for targeting specific parts of the body. So if you have more calf pain than back pain, you’d probably want to go for something like this for more even pressure. It goes without saying, but these are also better for travel purposes.
Larger foam rollers, anything above 24 inches and up to 36, are better for larger muscle groups (the back and chest) and are used more for stretching.
Foam rollers can be sold in differing densities and sizes: a 12-inch high-density roller, a 36-inch soft-density foam roller a 24-inch moderate-density foam roller and more.
One more category is half foam rollers, which as the name suggests are half the size of traditional ones (either in diameter or length). These are reserved for leg and foot stretches, mainly your foot arch. Like shorter foam rollers, they can also be used for more targeted pressure on a specific body part.
Foam rollers are made of, well, foam, but there’s different types of foam, each with their own durability, stability, smell and feel. There’s too many to list here, but it’s important to do your research because some lower-end foam rollers may be made of toxic materials. If you have any skin allergies or conditions, it’s also important to find out what your foam roller is made of to ensure it won’t cause any breakouts.
Foam rollers can be smooth, or they can have ridges on them and each act differently. The smooth ones feel like the palm of someone’s hands pressing into your muscles and provide consistent pressure as it rolls along your body. Ridges feel more like fingers, or even just the fingertips, pressing into you.
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