Three best foam rollers
Foam rollers are an easy way to give yourself a massage after a tough workout. Used by professional athletes for years, they're now a common piece of home gym equipment. Foam rollers are ideal for releasing tension from tight or injured muscles. But this surge in popularity has led to a market full of foam rollers in various sizes, densities, and textures. If you're new to foam rolling or looking to upgrade your current roller, you've got a seemingly endless array of options. To relax your muscles faster, we've put together this quick overview of what features to consider when shopping for foam rollers, including our top recommendations.
Considerations when choosing foam rollers
When choosing a foam roller, the first thing to consider is which type of roller is best for your post-workout needs.
Cylinder foam rollers
Cylinder foam rollers are the most common type. Large muscle groups like the back, glutes, and quads are easier to target with this type of roller. While they can be used on small muscle groups, it may require some trial and error to find the right position.
Foam roller balls
Foam roller balls are used to target specific trouble spots and curved areas of the body like the lower back. Because of their small size, they can reach deep tissue more easily than cylinder or stick rollers. Experienced athletes (and those experienced with foam rollers) may want to add a foam roller ball to their arsenal as they're great for hard-to-reach areas.
Stick foam rollers
Stick foam rollers have handles on either side of the foam roller, which is in the center. The diameter is typically smaller on a stick foam roller. Like ball rollers, they're good for targeting trouble areas. However, to reach some problem areas, you may need a rolling partner.
Foam density is one of the most important features to consider. The denser the foam, the deeper the massage. High-density foam holds its shape and lasts longer than low-density foam. However, beginners usually do better with a lower foam density until they've learned to use the roller correctly and their muscles have become accustomed to it.
The color of the foam can indicate the foam density. Usually, white is the softest and black the hardest. Colored foams are somewhere in between. However, color may vary by manufacturer.
Rollers with a smooth texture provide even pressure across the entire surface of the roller. The pressure from these models is less intense than that of textured rollers, and they're less expensive.
The ridges and nobs of a textured foam roller provide an experience that's more similar to massage than a roller with a smooth surface. A textured roller will create a more intense experience that's best reserved for those with some rolling experience. Some rollers are designed with several different texture patterns, while others have a uniform texture.
Length and size
Rollers vary in diameter from three to six inches. The smaller the diameter, the more intense the muscle massage. Foam rollers also come in a variety of lengths, from as short as four inches to as long as 36 inches. Shorter rollers can be used on the arms and calves and are great for traveling, too. Long foam rollers provide better stability for large muscle groups like the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
A basic smooth foam roller can cost less than $10 and a textured model around $15. However, these low-quality foams won't last long. You can find good-quality smooth or textured rollers between $10 and $30. Between $40 and $60, you'll find textured models made with higher quality shock-absorbing foam. Some textured foam rollers cost as much as $80, but unless you're a pro, you probably don't need a model that expensive.
Q. What kind of foam is used in foam rollers?
A. Foam rollers can be made of polyethylene (PE), vinyl acetate (EVA), or expanded polypropylene (EPP). Each material has its pros and cons, but in general, PE is the most affordable and least dense, while EPP is used to make the firmest rollers. EVA has good shock-absorbing ability and tends to be medium-firm.
Q. How long should I target sore areas?
A. You only need to target sore spots for 20 to 30 seconds at a time. Too much time spent on the same spot can cause further muscle damage. You should also try to move over the area slowly to prevent more trauma to the muscle.
Foam rollers we recommend
Best of the best: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
Our take: It's hard to beat the performance of TriggerPoint foam rollers, and the GRID lives up to this manufacturer's high standards. A combination of high-quality materials and good construction make this foam roller the market leader.
What we like: The structured grid digs deep into muscle tissue, working out knots and targeting hard-to-reach areas. It holds its shape even after daily use.
What we dislike: It's expensive, but your muscles will be happy.
Best bang for your buck: LuxFit Foam Roller
Our take: This basic foam roller skips fancy textured grids but works incredibly well for daily use. It even has fun, speckled foam.
What we like: LuxFit offers four lengths, giving you some options based on how much storage space you have available. The high-density foam reaches deep and allows you to adjust the pressure with your own body weight.
What we dislike: The foam can be too rigid for some users.
Choice 3: ProSource Sports Medicine Foam Roller
Our take: ProSource has created a foam roller with a professional-grade design but at an affordable price. Tough and durable, it holds its shape after heavy use.
What we like: It comes with two grid patterns and density zones to target both surface and deep-tissue muscle tension. The versatility of the design lets you decide how to use the roller based on your needs.
What we dislike: The soft nobs may not be hard enough to reach the deepest muscle tissue.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.