The other aspect of exercise, just as important as doing the work itself, is recovery. Everyone knows that exercising requires much effort, but many people skip or don’t understand, how important recovering from exercise is. There are many tools and strategies that aid in recovery, but in this article, we’ll focus on just one — foam rollers. Though they’ve gained popularity over the years many people still don’t quite understand just how beneficial they can be when it comes to increasing exercise longevity and overall recovery. But if you’re going to purchase a foam roller, you want the most durable and longest lasting. To help you in your search, we scoured reviews to compile a list of the best foam rollers, according to fitness experts.
Before we get to the list, let’s first dive deeper into the benefits of foam rolling.
Are you someone that battles daily aches and pains? Do you take over-the-counter pain relievers every day? Research shows that you’re not alone. A poll conducted by OnePoll finds that “one in three Americans take over-the-counter pain medication every single day. 20 percent reported taking OTC pain medications once a day and 12 percent take it ‘a ‘few times a day.'” But there’s a better way. Many aches, pains, and areas of tightness can be remedied with a good foam roller. According to the same study “using myofascial release tools, especially those with vibration therapy, localize pain relief to increase blood circulation, leading to faster healing tissue, increased mobility and reduced joint pain.”
Many people struggle with injuries and are desperate to get back to the activities they love, but healing takes time. Another study found that: “56% say an injury in the past is to blame for not getting back into their favorite physical activities.” But there are some ways to speed the healing process, and a foam roller is one of them. The same study found that “it takes the average person 10 weeks to recover from an injury, but many don’t want to wait that long. Several people shared tricks they’ve used to help speed up the healing process — such as using therapy oils (43%), orthopedic braces (42%), and foam rollers (41%).” Foam rollers are versatile tools that can aid in many areas surrounding exercise and an overall active lifestyle.
Now that we’ve shown you the research, let’s get to that list. We’ve compiled a list of the best foam rollers, composing our list according to the top recommendations across 10 9 expert websites. As always, be sure to comment below to let us know which foam roller you prefer for working out the kinks!
The List: Top 5 Foam Rollers, According to Experts
This roller ranked high on every list we reviewed, and it’s the only roller to make all nine lists. That should tell you something: the pros love it. You have a choice of 13”, 18”, or 26” lengths, and these rollers have a soft outer core with a hard plastic inner tube that will not flex as you roll over it. These are comfortable and sturdy foam rollers. “A favorite of everyone from marathon runners to American Ballet Theater dancers, the TriggerPoint gets high marks for its bumps and ridges that simulate a hands-on massage, and the firm core that helps it keep its shape even after years of use,” writes New York Magazine. They also note that “flexibility experts say rolling on the TriggerPoint not only eases sore muscles after a workout, it can loosen up your body before a stretching session.”
Verywell Fit writes that “after just one week of using this foam roller, our tester felt less tense, looser, and fully relaxed—all you can ask for in a quality foam roller. This TriggerPoint roller earned a perfect score of 5 out of 5 in all four categories: effectiveness, comfort, ease of use, and overall value.” And further, “our tester found it very effective, noting that her muscles felt elongated and less tense after just one use. And upon consistent use, she felt even more relief and flexibility. The roller features a unique surface pattern and rounded grooves that work to relieve deep knots without being too intense or uncomfortable.”
“Foam rolling can help break up trigger points, potentially preventing muscle spasms, soreness, and fatigue. The Grid’s crosshatched exterior was designed specifically for targeting these sensitive spots,” writes Byrdie. And as mentioned previously, this roller is sturdy: “this exceptionally durable roller boasts a 500-pound weight capacity.”
One more thing you can order on Amazon. Experts like this roller because it’s budget-friendly and, well, most people are placing orders on Amazon anyway. Keep in mind that high-density means this roller is hard and will not give much as you lay on it. Some people may require a softer roller to avoid pain. “For self-myofascial release (SMR, aka massaging your own muscles) as well as for use in certain exercises, the Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller does as good a job as other foam rollers at a lower price. Made of EPP, the cylinder has a slightly rough surface texture that keeps it from slipping against clothes or the floor, and the 36-inch size allows for techniques that smaller rollers don’t, like stretches that involve lying along its length,” writes The New York Times. They do warn, though, that “the only caveat is that people who are new to foam rolling or sensitive to the pressure of self-massage (it can hurt!) might find the very firm density—like that of just about any EPP roller—to be too intense.”
NBC says that this is a “more affordable foam roller” that “comes in sizes ranging from 18 inches up to 36 inches.” And the longer rollers are perfect when you need to lay on them to loosen certain areas. And though it’s high-density and thus harder material, they note that it “has a flat surface that can provide gentler pressure.” Many rollers have grooves and nobs on them to massage more and dig in more, which may be too aggressive for beginners, so this could be a good place to start if you’re new to foam rolling and don’t mind a harder roller.
“The deep, focused pressure of the TriggerPoint isn’t for everyone. If you’re prone to bruising or are new to rolling, you might want a simpler — but still effective — option,” writes New York Magazine. They go on to share that “the high-density foam means you’ll still feel a lot of pressure, but it’ll be evenly distributed throughout the roller’s surface area.”
Many foam rollers do not travel well. Even the shorter ones can be challenging to fit in bags; and our bodies often get beat up when we travel, meaning that foam rollers are handy tools to bring along with us. That’s where this roller comes in handy. “Brazyn declares its Morph collapsible foam roller the most portable foam roller in the world. We reviewed the Morph first and foremost for its capabilities as a foam roller and we were impressed. In its expanded form, is 14.5 inches long and 5.5 inches in diameter, making it a full-surfaced foam roller that offers the full gamut of self-massage techniques. It can also support a body weight of over 350 pounds,” writes Sports Illustrated.
Verywell Fit shares that “the Brazyn Morph Roller folds in half and comes with a carry case for convenient portability. It will fit into most luggage, carry-ons, or gym bags—providing relaxing relief on all of your travel adventures.” But if you’re looking for an intense experience from a roller, they do note that “the roller did earn a 4 out of 5 for effectiveness because our tester found that it’s not dense or intense enough to provide deep-tissue relief for larger muscle groups—but it does make for enjoyable, soothing use, which is especially great for more sensitive areas, like the glutes or hamstrings after a workout on the elliptical machine.”
Outdoor Gear Lab put this roller to the test: “We were dubious of the mechanism’s stability even though Brazyn claims it will support 350 pounds. In an effort to test this, we jumped on it repeatedly and even laid two adults on it simultaneously, and it didn’t buckle. It’s constructed from bamboo, recycled aluminum, and recycled foam, and we appreciate the use of recycled materials and renewable resources like bamboo.” And if you’re wondering about the dimensions of the roller when broken down, they share that “when this roller is folded flat, it’s just over 14″ long by 6.5″ wide and 1.9″ tall.”
If the rollers with spikey-looking nobs seems a bit too extreme for your liking, this may be a good option to start with. And with this soft option being a great place to start, you can always switch to a firmer roller if ever your body requires a bit more tough love to get the job done. “For those just getting started with foam rolling, it’s hard to go wrong with this model from OPTP. The company makes some of the professional-grade rollers that you’ll find in a PT’s office, clinics, gyms, and yoga studios. That means they are designed to withstand constant repeated use daily from dozens of people, so rest assured that these are made of durable quality EVA that will last. Although the foam is the softest we tested, it’s not overly squishy and won’t crush or pack down as you are using it,” writes Runner’s World.
Byrdie lists this as their best semi-soft roller: “Made of semi-soft foam, the beginner-friendly Pro-Roller promises gentle relief from muscle tension. Although this product is on the pricier side, its superior design will outlast competitors, which makes it worth the spend.” They did note that this “expert-recommended” roller will provide “gentle relief.” Though they do warn that it’s “not travel friendly.”
“There are times when you’ll want a slightly softer foam roller, like when you’re using a roller for more therapeutic massage. Jan Lefkowitz, a chiropractor at Body in Balance Chiropractic, recommends lying down with a medium-density foam roller (like the OPTP LoRox) underneath your back to improve your posture,” writes New York Magazine. The standard size is 36”, but they do note that it also “comes in a smaller, travel-friendly 12-inch size” as well.
This roller is not for the faint of heart. It’s more aggressive style and patterning will be too much for some people. The nobs on this roller stick out quite far, meaning they’ll dig into your body that much more. Though this roller can certainly provide relief, it can also potentially cause discomfort. NBC shares that this “is a firm textured roller with flexible bumps that continuously knead the affected areas of your body, according to the brand. The bumps are less than 2 inches apart, so multiple bumps can make contact with your body simultaneously and provide massaging pressure. The brand also boasts that the nonporous surface is latex-free, water-resistant and repels dirt.” These do come in both longer and more compact sizes so there are plenty of options depending on your needs.
Rating this best for an aggressive self-massage, Outdoor Gear Lab shares that “when it comes to strength and durability, look no further than the aggressive RumbleRoller Mid Size. A favorite amongst athletes and people who love massages with a side of pain, this intensely-textured roller is our go-to when we have serious knots to contend with.” They do note that “the RumbleRoller is not the roller we recommend for beginners because of the intensity of its protrusions,” and “if you want a do-it-all foam roller, the RumbleRoller isn’t going to be your best option because it is hard to dial back the intensity.”
“The Rumble Roller looks and feels like Medieval torture device; [a] rolling session may leave you wondering if you wronged King Arthur in a past life. But with its extra firm density and a bumpy texture that mimics intense thumb pressure, the RumbleRoller can target even the toughest trigger points and greatly improve mobility,” writes Tom’s Guide. They go on to say that “no matter how many times you’ve used a foam roller, your first time on the RumbleRoller will hurt. It will probably continue to hurt the second, third, and sixtieth time you hop on. However, the positive effects are immediate. After 30 seconds of rolling my incredibly tight quads, piriformis, and TFL (a muscle on the outer back side of the hip), my hips felt warm, and my range of motion increased.”
You may also be interested in:
- Best Fitness Trackers
- Best Joint Supplements
- Best Omega-3 Fish Oils
- Best Weight Loss Programs
- Best Gym Memberships
- New York Magazine
- The New York Times
- Verywell Fit
- Tom’s Guide
- Runner’s World
- Outdoor Gear Lab
- Sports Illustrated
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.