Foam rolling after and before exercises has become increasingly popular for people at all levels of fitness. And for good reason. Recent studies have shown that foam rolling can help improve range of motion, relieve soreness, and improve performance over time.
So if you are interesting in trying foam rolling as a part of your regular exercise and recovery routines, you’ll want to make sure you get the best foam roller for your needs.
But not all foam rollers are good for all users. If you use foam rollers regularly already, you may be ready to advance to firmer, more advanced options. But if you are brand new to foam rolling, there are better options for you to ease into it.
Most advice out there points towards beginners easing into your foam rolling routine and recommend different rollers. As you use foam rollers more, specialized rollers become more crucial for your increasing needs.
Many factors go into the foam roller you purchase. You should consider the following:
- What density works for your needs?
- What kind of texture will meet your needs?
- Are you using it for exercise, massage, improving range of motion or all of the above?
- What is your budget?
This foam roller buying guide will take the mystery out of the foam roller buying decision and allow you to make an informed decision that will best fit your needs.
Types of Foam Rollers
**Below, you'll find our hand-tested reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Standard Rollers: Standard rollers, typically referred to as “EVA”, are one of the better beginner models. These less dense rollers are classified as having a more gentle feel perfect for beginners and those who have tried foam rolling before and feel it is too painful.
They have an average length of about 3 feet. Their diameter is about 6 inches. And their surface tends to be smooth.
Grid Patterned Rollers: Grid pattern rollers are denser and do not give much. The ridged, raised surface is excellent for giving you a more advanced roll out. However, it is not the best for beginners or those with sore or injured muscles as it will be less comfortable for those people.
High Density Foam: Similar in look to the standard roller, the high density roller, typically referred to as “EVE,” is excellent to have on hand in cases where you are injured. The high density roller will maintain it’s form, but will give you a softer feel than other types of rollers.
Firm Rumble Rollers: One of the best for the everyday athlete who needs the benefits of a good roll out. Not for beginners or those nursing injuries, the firm rumble roller helps you roll out large muscle groups and is a good roller to have on hand for those who have been foam rolling for a while.
Extra-firm Rumble Roller: Not for beginners for sure. This is the firmest roller available and offers one of the best ways to keep your muscles pliable and healthy. The raised texture can be painful, but it is one of the best for offering great foam rolling benefits.
Speciality Rollers: There are non-traditional rollers out there that use combinations of foam, are half rollers, or use vibrating technology. Each of the speciality rollers offer a unique benefit and potential drawbacks to consider. Speciality rollers are not for everyone, just as the standard rollers are not for everyone either.
Important Considerations for Choosing a New Foam Roller
No matter your comfortability level, a good foam roller should address your unique needs and skill levels. In many cases, you may want to consider purchasing a few types of rollers to have on hand. Here are a few of the most important considerations to take into account before purchasing a new foam roller.
Exercise or Rolling-out Muscles Pre or Post Workout?
You can do two different things with your foam roller: you can use it for exercises such as plank holds or you can use one to roll out your muscles and improve their performance.
In general, you will likely want to choose a smooth surface roller with greater give if you are looking to perform exercises with your roller. By contrast, if you are looking to roll out your muscles, you may find that a roller with ridges and less give will better benefit you.
What Level Are You At With Them?
If you are beginner, you probably have no idea. In this case, look for a softer roller that will offer more give to break your body into using the foam roller.
On the other hand, if you have used them before at the gym and are ready to make a purchase, consider what model have you been using at the gym (if you don’t know, ask an instructor).
Then decide is this something you want to use at home and make an investment in. Maybe they only have beginner rollers, in which case maybe try the next level of density with raised areas to target knots in the muscles.
If you are injured, the softer foam roller is probably your best bet to help ease your recovery.
Density affects how much give the roller has. As a good rule of thumb, the less dense rollers are good for beginners, while more experienced users will likely want a higher density roller. Also, if you are nursing an injury or super sore muscle or group of muscles, a lower density roller will be more ideal for you.
The type of surface a foam roller has ranges from smooth to almost spike like ridges. Every level of texture adds additional relaxing capabilities to the foam roller.
If you are brand new to foam rolling, a smooth or mostly smooth surface is a great way to start to get the feel of how foam rolling will feel to you.
If you use a smooth foam roller for long enough, you would likely want to work your way up to roller that will target deeper muscles. At that point, you would want to consider a foam roller that has raised texture that will help you target your muscles.
When considering size, generally you are considering length. You can get short rollers for travel through long rollers ideal for taller people. In general, an average size roller of about 12 to 16 inches in length will suit most of your needs.
If you are taller, the longer varieties would help you target more areas without repositioning the roller constantly.
Travel sizes, though important if you are on the road a lot and need to consider space, are not a good recommendation for daily use at home. If you plan to bring your roller to the gym with you each time, a standard length is probably the best to go with.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell what type of foam roller will hold up for longer periods of wear and tear. More expensive rollers are not always the best at holding up over time and cheaper ones are likely to not last very long at all.
As a good rule, the softer and more giving a roller is, the shorter its lifespan will be before getting out of shape. More rigid rollers are more likely to keep their form for longer periods of time.
As mentioned above, don’t be fooled into thinking the most expensive foam roller is always going to last years. This is especially true for the softer rollers that will, no matter how much you pay, break down faster than the more solid foam rollers.
You would probably want to look at mid-price range models and be knowledgeable about how long it will likely last before buying.
The Best Foam Rollers to Buy
**Below, you'll find our hand-tested reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Foam rollers are not always created equal. Price does not always reflect better quality, but often you will pay a little more for rollers that will offer more muscle support and won’t break down as fast over shorter periods of time.
The following reviews will help guide you through a few of the better quality rollers available. Keep in mind while reading through them what your needs are and be open to the concept of potentially needing more than one type to best fit your needs.
Best of the Softer Rollers: OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Density
One of the best rollers for beginners and those looking for a softer roll out, the OPTP roller offers extended life and good bang for the buck.
Unlike some other soft rollers, the OPTP roller holds up for extended wear and tear without losing form
- Comfortable enough for beginners getting used to foam rolling
- Good length to cover larger portions of your body
- Durability that’s better than most softer foam rollers, maintaining its shape for quite awhile
- Easy to clean
- A bit more expensive than other, softer rollers
- The diameter is smaller, at only 6 inches
- Length would make it harder to pack away in a gym bag
- At least initially, there is a strong chemical smell associated with it
Best of the Harder Rollers: Black High Density Foam Roller
Simple in design and color, the Black High Density roller is not something to overlook. Made entirely out of EPE, this high density foam roller will maintain its shape over-time.
The roller is perfect for working out tough knots, muscle soreness, and pain.
And if you are interested in self-myofascial release, this roller is perfect to aide in your body’s recovery. Unlike it’s softer cousins, this black roller is meant for those a bit more used to foam rolling.
- Budget friendly
- Available in two different sizes
- Made up of dense EPE material that will hold its shape even after continuous, strenuous use
- Easy to clean
- Ideal for self-myofasciale
- Not as suitable for beginners
- Does not come with suggestions for use
- Has only a large and small option, no medium-sized options
Best of the Trigger Point Foam Rollers: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
If you’re a serious athlete, weekend warrior, or just into hard-core working out, the TriggerPoint GRID foam roller is ideal for you. But if even if you are attuned to hard work outs, this is not a model to start with.
It offers one of the best massages and deep tissue targeting experiences you can get. It is made with less foam than some traditional rollers, but it’s durability allows it to stand up to intense use over time.
This comes in two sizes, the original which is 13 inches and a longer version that is 26 inches long. The shorter length is good for travel, while the longer one is better for hitting larger body parts without having to shift positions constantly.
- Excellent durability and ability to withstand rigorous use
- Compact design makes it easy to bring to and from the gym
- Offers deep tissue massage for excellent self-myofasciall
- Cost is higher than some other foam rollers
- The original size’s short length, while great for transporting, is not as good at hitting larger body areas
- Too intense for beginners, you should start with a softer foam roller
Best for Massage Therapy: Master of Muscle Foam Roller
Master of Muscle offers a foam roller that is one of the best available for massage therapy. It does not matter what sport or workout you do, the Master of Muscle roller can boost performance during workouts.
And after your workout, the foam roller is a great choice for anyone who wants to quickly get rid of post-workout aches and pains.
Many users rely on it for myofascial release, which will speed up recovery. The company offers two sizes. The smaller one is lightweight, portable, and travels nicely in a gym bag. The longer one is also lightweight, but does not travel as nicely in a gym bag.
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Well-known for myofascial release
- Shorter model is lightweight and easy to carry to and from the gym and other classes
- Longer models covers more of the body, requiring less repositioning
- Durable under normal conditions
- Come with instructions and suggestions for use
- Both models are reasonably pricedl
- Not as easy to clean as other models
- The ridges are not as firm as some other similar models
- Narrower diameter which might not work as well for larger framed users
- Shorter length requires you to switch positions more frequently than longer competitors
Best Vibrating Roller: Hyperice VYPER: Hi-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller
Unlike a lot of rollers, the VYPER has built in vibration. This vibrating helps to amplify the effects of the massage or warm up. This roller is excellent for any user that is into working out and has been foam rolling for some time.
The firm exterior and dense core makes it ideal for targeting sore, tight, and stiff muscle groups. It also has three available speed settings to deliver the right level of vibration for your specific needs.
Rechargeable lithium ion batteries power this powerful roller giving you up to two hours of use per charge. As an added bonus, you can use this roller for warming up and loosening up tight muscles.
- Offers one of the best pre or post workout roll outs
- Rechargeable batteries with a two hour life per useT
- Three vibration settings for whatever your needs are
- Ideal for any exercise enthusiastl
- As foam rollers go, it is pricey
- Shorter length that makes repositioning more frequent
- Extra parts that move could wear out faster than expected
- Heavier than average rollers of similar size
Best Larger Model: ProSource Ultra Deluxe Revolutionary Sports Medicine Roller
One of the longest foam rollers available, the ProSource Ultra Deluxe Revolutionary Sports Medicine Roller is ideal for targeting larger muscle groups.
The soft, but firm bumps help with targeted, deep tissue massaging and are still good for more sensitive areas of the body.
Similar to many of the other models, this is not for beginners. It is ideal instead for those accustomed to hard workouts who have been using foam rollers for some time.
Similar to other rollers, the ProSource foam roller is available in two sizes to choose from. The longer model excels at hitting larger parts of your body all at once. The smaller size is excellent for smaller users.
- The longer model is one of the longer models available
- Excellent for myofascial release
- Durable and can withstand constant use
- Not as pricey as some models
- Made of heavy material, so even the smaller model is a bit more cumbersome to bring to and from the gym
- For those looking for really deep massaging, the bumps could be firmer
Best Premium - 3 in 1 - 13’ Massage Foam Roller
The 3-in-1 foam roller has a removable solid inner core roller perfect for travel or softer massages. The outer layer has a bumpy, ridged surface for deeper tissue massaging.
Finally, this roller comes with a small massage ball for after workout, targeted-massages that you or a partner can perform. This foam roller is great for anyone looking to increase flexibility and mobility. It is also a good choice if you want to use the roller for therapy.
- Multiple options come with this roller so you can use all three at different point in time
- Comes with travel bag and is easy to bring with you to the gym
- Good for both beginners and more advanced users as it has multiple rollers in one
- Excellent for massage and therapy
- Not super pricey
- Inner core is not for new users
- Does not come with instructions as other rollers do
- Does not offer wider options
- For those looking for a longer roller, this is not it
Foam Roller Buying Conclusions
It is important to remember that if you are brand new to foam rolling, you should start out with a softer roller. You don’t want to start with a heavy duty roller, even if you think your athletic prowess is more advanced. Firmer, more specific rollers take some getting used to and may intimidate newer users due to the pain they can cause.
Also, keep in mind that you may want to get more than one roller, even if you have been using one for a while already. Softer and smoother rollers can benefit you if you are nursing an injury or need a break from the more intense feel of rigid, raised bump rollers.
Once you are sure the level you are at, don’t be afraid to spend a little more to get a better quality roller. Even some of the softer rollers will hold up better if you invest in a better quality one from the start.