10 Best Foam Rollers Tested & Reviewed

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Searching for Foam Rollers? Take a look at the best Foam Rollers for 2017, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them online or in a store.

There are so many things to love about running: the challenge, the struggle, the health benefits, the competition, the feel of your stride, the fresh air and of course the runners high. But with all these benefits comes a cost, or costs. An unfortunate number of runners have experienced these costs in the form of injuries. And beyond injuries there is simple wear and sore muscles that can affect you day in day out. Smart runners know they have to take care of their bodies if they want them to perform, and that means using every tool available to make sure you stay in tip top shape.

In order to properly recover and treat injuries from long sessions down the road, the proper equipment is often required. The products we have gathered together in this buying guide have been researched, trending as some of the most popular and effective tools among many runners and athletes out there. Check out our list of the top rated picks, then scroll down to see some additional information that might be helpful to your search.

Last Updated: April 4, 2017

Updated with new products such as LuxFit Premium, The Rumble Roller, Master Of Muscle and Fladora High Density Roller.

We have also done some additional research in order to provide a frequently asked questions portion near the bottom of the page.

TriggerPoint GRID
  • TriggerPoint GRID
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Original GRID design
  • Price: See Here
OPTP PRO-Roller
  • OPTP PRO-Roller
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Soft Density
  • Price: See Here
Bodygear Grid Roller
  • Bodygear Grid Roller
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Firm high density
  • Price: See Here

Now the average runner can enjoy some of the same recovery benefits of pros. Below we’ll review and discuss some of the best foam rollers on the market in 2017. If you have any interest in happier muscles read on.

10 Best Foam Rollers

 


TriggerPoint GRID

If you want performance and a bit of high octane massage from your roller the TriggerPoint Grid is probably one of, if not your absolute best bet. Although there is a bit less actual foam on the body of this roller it won’t let you down. The ribbed rolling surface of the Grid promises a targeted massage that hits just the right spots. This roller is also constructed in a way that is meant for heavy use, so it keeps it shape nicely even years down the line. Depending on the type of density you’re after there are a few different options from this manufacturer. All of them are quality.
Pros
  • Compact size
  • Delivers targeted massage
  • Highly Durable
  • Trusted by massage therapists and trainers
Cons
  • Slightly pricey


OPTP PRO Soft Density

A great foam roller for beginners. The OPTP Pro Roller is comes in different sizes including a quite long 36 inches and is softer composition than many foam rollers. This makes it easy to position the body on and a softer touch for those unfamiliar with using this type of equipment. The tagline here is more relaxation than deep muscle work. If you know what your needs are the user feedback is almost unanimously positive. Give it a shot today and see the difference it makes!
Pros
  • Large variation in sizes
  • Light textured finish for a nice tactile touch on the skin
  • Closed-cell cross-linked foam technology, high quality
  • Easily washable
  • Good cost-to-value ratio
Cons
  • Higher priced
  • A bit soft

LuxFit Premium High Density

If there is such as thing as a market standard for foam rollers this is probably it. This is a great roller for physical therapy, before or after running or post-yoga workout. Constructed to be extra firm this is the answer for sore and worn out muscles. The extra firmness helps to apply stronger pressure and give you something akin to a deep tissue massage. Comes in three different sizes and includes a one year warranty, it’s hard to go wrong with the Luxfit.
Pros
  • Extremely well reviewed
  • Extra firm
  • Affordable
  • Comes in 3 sizes
  • Has a solid warranty
  • Great for stabilizing muscles and improving balance
Cons
  • Somewhat generic looking

The Rumble Roller

The Rumble Roller
It has an amazing design that enable pain relieve abilities that are great. The major advantage is its price. It’s considered amongst the best foam rollers in the market. The design of this foam roller is perfect for deep muscle pain. The knobbed surface enables the soft tissues in the body to break the knots hence stretching the muscles in all directions. It comes in all sizes so regardless of your body size you can get this amazing foam roller. Its high density makes it perfect for people with serious pain issues.
Pros

Intended for extreme muscle pain

Dense and durable

Great for all parts of the body

Comes in large and compact sizes

Deep muscle penetration

Cons

Fairly expensive

Not meant for beginners

The Original Tiger Tail Muscle Massage Stick

The Original Tiger Tail Muscle Massage Stick
Technically not a foam roller, but is effectively producing the same results in many ways — the Tiger Tail is simply too good not to mention. Many of you will be familiar with this product, those who aren’t are in for a treat. This slim and easy to use massage roller is a great way to work your legs over post-run. 500 Amazon great reviews don’t lie.
Pros
  • Great for preventing or reducing sore muscles
  • Comes with easy to use pamphlet
  • Rubber hand grips allow you to put good pressure on desired area
  • Durable, quality manufacturing
Cons
  • Limited functionality when using by yourself

ProSource Ultra

ProSource Ultra
This new design of ProSource foam roller helps in making sure the pain in the muscles is reduced. The design used in making it, ensures that all the sore muscles are relaxed. Its also able to reach the tight muscles in the body like those in the legs, arms and lower back. It also promotes blood flow to the muscles and gets rid of the knots in the muscles. Due to its size of 13 inches by 6 inches it can effectively target the wider muscles in the body. Perfect for athletes who need to relax their sore muscles and aid muscle recovery.
Pros

Targeted muscle relaxation

Promote faster muscle recovery

Feels just like a real massage from a masseuse

Portable

Cons

Limited weight capacity

Smaller size not enough for wide muscle groups

Fladora High Density

Fladora High Density
Perfect for yoga and massage therapy. This foam roller has an extra firm that provides very good compression to the body. The extra firm makes the roller to maintain its foam regardless of the intensity of the exercise. Because of its firmness it’s not appropriate for gentle massage. It promotes proper posture balance and effective muscle positioning. Many trainers have praised for its features that enable spinal stabilization and strengthening effect on various muscle groups.
Pros

Extra firm

Liquid resistant

High density

Tough

Cons

Not for gentle massage

Might be too firm for beginners

Rolling With It Eco-friendly

Rolling With It Eco-friendly
Don’t let the slightly cheesy name fool you, this is a simple yet highly effective foam roller. It’s constructed with an eco-friendly EPA approved foam material that will hold its shape well over time. With this roller you won’t need to worry about flaking or chipping either. Available in two sizes, depending on your body type and needs.
Pros
  • Made with eco-friendly EPA  approved foam
  • Budget friendly
  • Has multiple size options
  • Durable
Cons
  • May not last as long as some of the higher priced options

The Master of Muscle

The Master of Muscle
This foam roller has great value and an impressive design. It’s able to relieve quite a variety of muscle problems. Perfect for big “jobs”. Can be used by literally everyone due to its medium density feature. Its neither too hard nor too soft. It also has a flat part that is efficient in back and soft massaging. It has knobbed sections also, if you have more intense muscle pains and need to relieve deep muscle knots.
Pros

Compact and portable

Dual pressure zones let you control the massage

Ideal for the arms, legs, and neck

Medium density is great for pain relief without causing more pain

Great for smaller people

Extremely affordable

Cons

Has a weight limit of 330 pounds.

Too small for bigger people or full back massages

 


Exous Bodygear Grid

Exous Bodygear Grid
Light and easy to transport with you, the Exous is a great foam roller to get you going. Its external grips are perfectly designed for feet and if you are ever uncertain it comes with access to an accompanying instructional video. Great roller for those starting out.
Pros
  • Made from high density EVA foam
  • Good for feet
  • Medium sized
  • Light and portable
Cons
  • Challenging to use around head/neck


The Criteria Used When Searching For The Best Foam Rollers

Foam rollers continue to gain popularity amongst sports people as more training professionals offer assistance to  their clients in understanding their importance. The sporting industry is finally adapting the coming up of this new sporting item that helps athletes do their own massage ( deep tissue).  This type of massage is called “self-administered myofascial release”  and it allows  the athletes to use their weight at a controlled state for muscle relaxation and stimulation. Though using a roller can be a little uncomfortable for beginners and even some athletes who have been using it for some time. Never the less, effective massaging of the knots will free the body muscles, improve blood flow in the body, motion range reduction in the duration of recovery after using the foam roller.

The benefits of using a roller are:

Rollers are perfect for a warm up session before you begin a high intensity workout session. Though its not limited to only these type of sporting activities, even simpler activities like yoga can enjoy a good warm up from a roller. Many athletes have incorporated foam rollers into their warm up sessions. This sporting gear helps athletes do their own massage ( deep tissue).  This type of massage is called “self-administered myofascial release”  and it allows  the athletes to use their weight at a controlled state for muscle relaxation and stimulation. Though using a roller can be a little uncomfortable for beginners and even some athletes who have been using it for some time. Never the less, effective massaging of the knots will free the body muscles, improve blood flow in the body, motion range reduction in the duration of recovery after using the foam roller.

It’s important to have the best  roller so that you can be able to fully benefit from using it. We came up with the 10 best foam rollers for after a careful analysis of this sporting tool. While doing this we considered the below factors that play an important role in the functionality of a roller.

Factors considered were:

Body Part to be Used on

When choosing a foaming roller that is right for you, the first thing to consider is which part of your body will it be used for the most. Think of which size works best for working with that body part (back, leg muscles, etc.) and go from there

The Density of the Roller Model

Rollers are made with different levels of densities and this determines their effectiveness when massaging the deep tissues of the body, and  who can use them. Very soft rollers are known to provide insufficient pressure on the body muscles when used, while on the other hand, very hard roller might cause an athlete to suffer from trauma and possibly bruising of the body ( ultimately causing low performance and painful muscles)

The types of  degrees of  foam roller density and their preferred sporting activities are:

Soft Density Roller

They are amazing for yoga workouts and have good cushion abilities. They are soft hence its difficult to locate its central point hence balancing it during a workout session can he very difficult. Perfect for beginners and for those athletes who are focusing on balance training and increasing the strength of their core muscles. For those athletes who want to get maximum workout utility they should opt for the softer rollers.

Standard Density  Roller

Its the bridge between soft and hard density. Compared to the soft rollers, the standard density rollers are the best option for beginners, since they are more versatile and functions well for both sporting activities and normal massage. In sporting workouts is able to give impressive balancing which is easy to attain. They are perfect for self administered massage therapy and has adequate reach-ability of the muscles in the body. This enables them to break most muscle knots in the body. With continuous practice and improved technique, the standard density are able to curb any pains in the back of the user.

Firm Density Rollers

They are perfect for those who want massage deep muscles that are normally a little hard to access or reach. Most of the time its very hard or close to impossible to reach the deep tissues in the body muscles. These types of  density rollers helps in making sure the deep tissues can be reached and massaged. Its most preferred by many athletes.

Beginners should start with softer rollers so that as your workout gets more advanced then you can go for rollers with more density.  Soft rollers are not durable like the hard rollers, and that’s why hard rollers are used for perfect for a long duration of workouts. Soft rollers get permanently deformed with time, meaning you have to replace them. If you want to check the density of a roller, you can look at its color. White is the color for the  softest roller while the black color represents the hardest rollers. The other test would be to feel the roller by just squeezing the roller and confirm how firm a roller is.

The Texture of the Surface of the Roller.

Rollers have different varieties of surfaces, smooth, ridges , knobs are the major types of surfaces found in rollers. All these surfaces have different degrees of intensities when exerting pressure on the body  and on the targeted muscles.  In general we have two types of rollers depending on the type of surfaces roller foams have:

Smooth rollers: They have a smooth surface. The pressure exerted on the rolling device is even on the entire roller. They do not have too much pressure and are recommended for athletes who want to start using the rollers in their daily workout routines. They are also more affordable than the rollers that are have textured surfaces.

Textured rollers: They are made in a way that they imitate how the masseuse’ hands and how they work on the muscles of the body during a normal massage. They can be knobs or ridges in nature. They target the muscles knots during the whole workout period.  They are more expensive than the smooth rollers and exert different levels of pressure on the body.

Most rollers come in several types of textures there fore you have a wide collection to pick from when you want to get yourself a roller.

 

Foam Roller’s Shape & Size

There are many different models of rollers and they are made in different shapes, lengths and definitely sizes.

Length of the Roller: If you are beginner then you should get yourself a roller that is long, with an average length of 36 inches. These rollers have high level of versatility. They are able to do a god massage on your back muscles, this is attributed to their length. They provide good stability of the workout session focuses on parts of the body like hamstrings and the quads. There are also rollers that are shorter that focus on smaller sections of the body like arms. Their average length is usually 24 inches. They have good portability and functions well in limited workout space.

Diameter: Many rollers have an average diameter range of 5 to 6 inches. This diameter range provides comfortability when working out and eases the body and gives the athlete more control during the sessions. But then there are rollers with much smaller diameters of about 3 to 4 inches, they are ideal for elite trainers and target specific parts of the body.

Half round kind of foam roller: They have the look of a normal roller but then they are like half the length of the normal roller. They are mainly used for massaging the leg and stretching the foot. Perfect in dealing with signs of  knee pains (plantar fasciitis).

Other types of rollers are Foam covered rollers ( used for leg massaging and look like normal rolling pins) and foam balls ( offer precise pressure control on certain body parts that are curved)

 

 

Other Important Factors To Consider When Choosing The Right One For You

Apart from the above factors, we also went ahead to look at other factors that are also considered when choosing out the beats foam rollers for a sports person.

Type of different models

There are different forms of  rollers in the market and each one is made to suit the different fitness needs of a trainer. Here is a basic list of the different types of  rollers that are available and which one might be right for you.

Standard, white foam roller. This is a usually 3 feet long and 6 inches in diameter. This is the easiest and gentlest of the foam rollers. It can be used on almost anyone. This is a good one if you have not started foam rolling because it hurts too much. While it still may be uncomfortable on this one you will find that it is much less then on the more aggressive foam rollers.

Black foam roller. This looks just like the white foam roller, but uses a higher density foam. This is one I recommend purchasing to have as your go-to foam roller if you are injured and cannot tolerate one of the firmer foam rollers. This will maintain its form and still provide you with a great roll out.

The Grid. This is a step up from the black foam roller. It has very little give to it and if you are nursing a sore muscle it can be painful. This is not a great starting point, but it is a good roller to have when you move past being able to tolerate more than just foam.

Firm rumble roller. You need to be healthy to have this, but it is a fantastic tool for any athlete. I highly recommend purchasing this model or the extra-firm as your go-to, everyday roller. This is excellent for getting into hamstrings and gastroc muscles that may be sore as well as helping to correct illiotibial band issues and piriformis pain.

Extra firm rumble roller. This is the most aggressive foam roller on the market. Yes, it has extra firm spikes on it. A better self-massage tool does not exist. It will aid in keeping your muscles pliable and ready to go. This one should only be used when you have worked your way up to it, it can be very painful.

Frequency of Use

How often will you be using the roller?  The more frequent the use, the denser the roller should be, as it will be more effective for a longer period of time. Choose a less dense foam roller (i.e. solid foam) for infrequent use or for a beginner… choose a PVC core for more intensity and longevity.

Intensity of the SMR

The intensity of foam rolling is typically likened to the intensity of an aggressive deep tissue massage.  Beginners may want to start with a softer roller and graduate to a more aggressive roller as you become accustomed to rolling. Firmness and texture of the roller will determine the aggressiveness of the massage.

 

Different Features

Different brands have different features and benefits. There are a number of different sizes, lengths and textures, each having pros and cons. Consider a compact roller if you will be traveling to and from the gym or on road trips. Consider a longer roller if you are going to be keeping it at one location.

Different lengths can be geared towards specific movements. Textured rollers tend to be more aggressive for deeper muscle tissue.  Different shapes and grooves will have different densities and allow for blood flow and varying intensity.  Hollow rollers also allow for storage of gym clothes, towels etc. when you are transporting it to and from the gym.

 

Price

Foam rolling is a very cost effective form of therapy. Determine your budget, but have an open mind.  The one that works best for you may be more or less than what you had planned.  Keep in mind that you get what you pay for.  More effective rollers that will last a long time tend to cost more initially, but will pay off in the long run.

 

FAQ

Several questions pop up when shopping for this effective SMR tool. Some of them are addressed below.

Q: What type of foam roller should I use and when?

A: Hard: For a deep tissue massage or core stability workout due to firm construction

Soft: For yoga, pilates and stretching. Great for studio use.

Short rollers: Easy for PTs to carry around, easier to pinpoint troublesome areas the body

Long: perfect for pilates and yoga. An aid for balance and stabilization due to the length.

Q: Which material is right for me?

A: Synthetic foam: Non-slip surface and very easy to clean. The close cell construction allows a degree of ‘give’ while ensuring they keep their shape.

Escape Polyurethane: A step up from synthetic foam Polyurethane has a firmer, more durable construction. Easy to clean and the Polyurethane coating will remain hygienic even with intensive use as it doesn’t absorb sweat or dirt.

Grid EVA: Made from less foam than traditional foam rollers this solid environmentally friendly EVA roller is easy to clean and lighter than other foam rollers thanks to the hollow middle.

Q: What is the difference between a traditional foam roller and the Grid?

A: Distrodensity™ zones: the grooves on the surface of the Grid act like a human hand to give a deeper self-myofascial release (SMR)massage.
The hollow center has two real benefits:

1. It is environmentally friendly as the roller uses less foam
2. Makes it perfect for traveling.

Full training programme developed around the Grid for SMR and SMRT-CORE – a programme to build core strength and conditioning.

Q: Should I buy more than one type of roller?  

A: If you want to do stretching and yoga moves as well as a deep tissue massage you would benefit from a soft roller as well as a hard roller. This also allows you to progress your client from a soft to a firm massage which is essential for SMR development.

Q: How often and for how long should I roll?

A: There is no set amount of time, but daily for 5-10 minutes would be awesome.  I know making the time for this might be tough, so I tell myself, and my clients, that anything is better than nothing.  Two minutes of rolling out the legs is better than not doing it at all.

Q: What’s the Roller type for me?

A: Rollers are made with different levels of densities and this determines their effectiveness when massaging the deep tissues of the body, and  who can use them. Very soft rollers are known to provide insufficient pressure on the body muscles when used, while on the other hand, very hard roller might cause an athlete to suffer from trauma and possibly bruising of the body ( ultimately causing low performance and painful muscles)

 

Foam rollers are simple devices that allow you to perform massage or self myofascial release on yourself post workout. Some key benefits are: this process generally helps to relieve muscle tension , increase the flow of oxygen to the muscles,decrease recovery time and improve range of motion. In the past these techniques and devices were left to the world of professional athletes and trainers.Recent information, technology, and availability of affordable products have introduced foam rolling to a wider audience.


Here are some sources we used while conducting our research:

Sources

  1. Editor, Which Foam Roller Material Should I Choose, Fitness Website,
  2. Kate Halse, Top 10 Best Foam Rollers for Fitness and Massage, Sporting Website,
  3. Editorial Team, High Density Foam Roller Review, Sporting Website,
  4. Mike Kabbani, Critical Foam Roller Review (RumbleRoller vs The Grid), Fitness Website,
  5. Editorial Team, OPTP Soft Foam Roller: the Right One?, Lifestyle Website,
  6. Editorial Team, Foam Roller, Lifestyle Website,
  7. Carrie Anton, Review: TriggerPoint GRID X Foam Roller, Consumer Website,
  8. Robert Mitchell, RunJunk.com Clips: The Stick vs Tiger Tail Massage, Youtube,
  9. Heather, The Self Massage Showdown: The Foam Roller vs The Stick, Shoes Website,
  10. Stefan S, Best Foam Rollers Reviewed and Tested, Wrestling/ Boxing Website,
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