What is better than relaxing your muscles and doing your own deep tissue massage (also known as “Self-Administered Myofascial Release” (SMR)) after a heavy workout? If you have a high budget, you can buy a massage chair to do so. But if you don’t, you can do it with the help of a foam roller, using your own body weight, and in the comfort of your home. This process might be a bit uncomfortable and tough to do, but massaging knots or trigger points may help relieve your muscles of their grip.
Using a foam roller is common in athletes and people who exercise a lot. According to a study, foam rolling has shown an increased range of motion, decreased recovery time, and improved blood flow.
If you are looking for a quality foam roller, you are in the right place. We have put together this buying guide for you along with a list of some foam rollers to start with. Let’s get into it.
Before buying a foam roller, keep in mind these three major considerations:
Foam rollers come in various densities that determine what they are best at and who they are best suited for. A roller that is too soft cannot provide adequate pressure while a foam roller that is too hard may cause trauma and bruising, resulting in pain and instead have a negative effect on your muscles.
If you are going to use a foam roller for the first time, we recommend you to opt for the one that is on the softer side. Once your muscles adapt to rolling, and your technique improves, you can buy a denser/harder foam roller. Denser foam rollers are also better for long term usage as they are more durable.
Foam rollers come in various surface textures, including ridges and knobs, for applying different amounts of pressure. On the other hand, foam rollers having a smooth surface are used for just relaxing your muscles.
These foam rollers have ridges and knobs that can mimic the hand of a masseuse, providing more targeted massage to work out knots in your muscles and relax them. However, they are quite hard and firm compared to their smooth counterparts.
Smooth rollers don’t have any texture on them, which makes them an excellent choice to apply uniform pressure across the entire length of the roller. This one is an excellent choice for someone who is just starting out with rolling because it doesn’t provide an intense pressure like a textured foam roller.
Shape and Size
This factor of the foam roller affects how you use it. Foam rollers come in various shapes and sizes to choose from.
Long rollers (about 36 inches) are versatile and a great choice for beginners. Long rollers are long enough to cover your entire back when placed perpendicular to your spine. Plus, long rollers are more stable compared to shorter ones when you are working on your hamstrings, glutes, and other body parts.
Shorter foam rollers (around 24 inches) work best in targeting smaller areas like calves and arms. So, getting the right length depends on your requirements and needs.
Ideal diameter of foam rollers is 5 or 6 inches. It is a comfortable height for relaxing your body onto and keeping the roller under control. You can also choose 3 or 4-inch diameter foam rollers for deeper, more targeted massage.
Types of Foam Rollers
Foam-covered Roller Massagers (Sticks)
These foam rollers are similar in shape to a rolling pin. These can be used primarily on your legs and upper back for more precise muscle targeting.
Half Round Foam Roller
As the name suggests, this type looks like if you have cut a foam roller in half (lengthwise). You can use these rollers for leg and foot stretches. Additionally, they can be used to massage the arches of the feet to relieve the signs of plantar fasciitis.
They are perfect to be used after working out.
Foam balls are not cylindrical, unlike the other two types. These allow precise pressure control and targeting. Plus, they work quite well in curved areas of the body, such as the lumbar area.
For instance, TriggerPoint Foam Ball can work wonders for deep tissue massage and targeting small muscles.
Our Top Picks
Whether you want to recover from a sports injury or just relax your body and muscles in the comfort of your home, the LuxFit foam roller is a great choice to opt for. Made from high-density, molded polypropylene foam, this roller won’t lose its shape even if you use it all the time. Additionally, its surface repels water so that it doesn’t get wet and soggy on you if you are using it anywhere with water nearby.
It is available in three different sizes to choose from, according to your requirements. You can use it to help with core and spinal stabilization, muscle re-education, and stamina. Not to mention its importance, in helping with pains and aches in the back. On top of everything, LuxFit foam roller is backed by a 1-year warranty.
This foam roller by Trigger Point Performance depends on varying densities and widths of the grid system that also controls the intensity levels. These 3D Distrodensity matrix zones are incorporated to help in channeling oxygen and blood through your muscles and create elasticity with SMR therapy application to provide you with care massage.
The foam used is EVA that is known for its versatility and sturdiness. It is sturdy enough to withstand daily usage without deforming. This foam roller itself weighs 23 oz. only and can support a maximum weight of 500 pounds. It measures 5.50 inches in diameter and has a length of 13 inches. It has a unique and multi-dimensional surface that can assist in healing tissues, relieve muscle soreness, improve blood circulation, balance, mobility, and recover from joint pain problems.
It is available in five colors: black, camo, lime, orange, and pink. It comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Looking for an affordable foam roller that can help you massage your own muscles in the comfort of your home? This high-density round foam roller by AmazonBasics is the way to go. It has a slightly rough texture that keeps it in place and doesn’t let the roller slip against the floor or your clothes. It is 36 inches in length, making it a fantastic choice for techniques that smaller rollers don’t allow, such as reliving your upper body muscles.
However, the only downside to this foam roller is that beginners might found it very firm and too intense. People who can bear the hardness of a roller won’t find any problem in this AmazonBasics high-density foam roller. You can use it to enhance blood circulation and soft tissues, reduce discomfort, and improve flexibility. It measures 36 x 6 x 6 inches (L x W x H) and is backed by a 1-year warranty.
This one is an eco-friendly foam roller by Rolling With It. It is an excellent choice for self-massage, SMR, physical therapy, as well as pre and post-workout rolling. You can use it before hitting the gym to warm up the muscles, relaxing them and boosting recovery time. It is available in three different sizes to choose from.
Longer version (36 x 6 inches) is perfect for the upper body, medium roller (18 x 6 inches) works great for IT Band, hamstring, and calves, while the smaller one (13 x 6 inches) is compact and portable that you can easily use to target smaller muscles even in congested places.
It helps with:
- Deep tissue therapy
- Chronic pain relief
- Core stabilization
- Increasing flexibility
- Improving mobility
- Better sleep
- Myofascial release
- Relaxing muscles
Its maximum weight limit is 300 pounds.
This is another amazing foam roller by Trigger Point Performance that is longer than the one we have mentioned earlier on this list. It has a length of 26 inches that excellently accommodates larger bodies and provides a soothing massage to your whole body. Its multi-directional texture can help improve oxygen flow, blood circulation, recover from injuries, heal tissues, and relieve muscle and joint pains.
It measures 5.5 x 5.5 x 26 inches and weighs 2.87 pounds. The maximum weight it can support is up to 500 pounds. Plus, this foam roller is backed by a 1-year warranty.
Made with firm-density, expanded polypropylene (EPP), this foam roller by OPTP is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to alleviating muscle knots and tension. It is available in five sizes: 12-inch (half), 12-inch (round), 18-inch (round), 36-inch (half), and 36-inch (round).
The surface is smooth and isn’t hard on your body – a great choice for beginners. Plus, you can easily clean it with soap and water or antibacterial wipes.
OPTP Pro roller is made of durable cross-linked, closed-cell foam that provides just the right amount of softness, firmness, and flexibility that your muscles need to get relaxed. It offers both round and flat sides for stability exercises, Pilates, and yoga.
It is available in four colors and measures 36 x 6 inches.
This foam roller by 321 Strong is one of Amazon’s top choice for “strong foam rollers”. It is made of high-quality materials (EVA) and offers triple grid 3D massage zones that can mimic the motion of the finger, thumb, and palm. It is of medium density that is comfortable for beginners and can help with lower back injuries, plantar fasciitis, and sciatica. It measures 12.75 inches x 5.25-inch diameter. It weighs only 1lb but can support weight up to 500 pounds.
A great choice for swimmers, runners, athletes, Pilates and yoga students, etc. Available in lots of different colors to choose from.
Foam rolling doesn’t just help relax your muscles after a workout but before hitting the gym as well. It is a must for everyone who is into some sort of exercising. Many physical therapists also recommend foam rollers to their patients who face problems with their lower back or have other medical issues that are linked with muscle soreness or tissues.
All the foam rollers that we have mentioned above have been found to work best by many users. You can buy one from the list or read our buying guide thoroughly to increase your knowledge about foam rollers so you can make a better buying decision.