Have you decided to invest in a foam roller as a relatively inexpensive means of self-massage or as an exercise aid? Perhaps you’re just in the market for an upgrade to the foam roller you already have. Whatever your reason, checking out foam roller reviews is a good idea.
I have been using foam rollers for some time now – I have a small lightweight one that fits in my gym bag and larger one that stays at home. The rollers are ideal for warming up your muscles pre-workout and for helping them to recover after your workout. They are also very useful as a form of myofascial release therapy to help relieve knots, tightness and pain in muscles and connective tissues.
Deciding which foam roller to buy, however, is not an easy task as they come in such a wide variety. This foam roller review is meant to help you make sense of it all. We’ll take a look at the different types of foam rollers, the best brands and the top 10 foam rollers for you to consider.
Foam Roller Comparison Table
Different Types Of Foam Rollers
Their basic design may be simple, but foam rollers are really quite a diverse bunch. You will have to select from different firmness, lengths and diameters. You can get them smooth, with ridges or with spikes and of course, the prices vary as well. Also weighing on what type of foam roller you decide to buy, is what you intend to use it for – an exercise tool, to give you a gentle massage or for myofascial release.
1. Soft Density Rollers
Rollers in this category are usually good for gentle muscle massages since they have a more cushioning feel to them. They offer more comfort than firmer rollers and are suited to people who are just beginning to use a foam roller. Although they are softer, these rollers are still designed to retain their shape even after repeated use.
2. Standard Density Rollers
At the midway point in terms of roller firmness, these standard density rollers work well for both deep massages and exercise (particularly those exercises that involve advanced core-stabilization). They are sturdy enough to use as supports during your yoga and Pilates routines. They are made to withstand heavy and repeated use and will also hold up well in situations where they are to be used by more than one person. If you're new to foam rolling, this is a good place to start.
3. Firm Density Rollers
These are perfect for athletes and other very active persons who would benefit from an intense deep tissue massage. Adhesions or knots that develop in body tissues are worked out during the myofascial release therapy these high density rollers provide. Firm rollers are also a good tool to aid muscle recovery after your workout (an important step in building up muscle tissue). In general, I'd recommend starting with something softer unless you already know your body responds well to deep, hard pressure.
Size and Shape
1. Short Rollers
If you need to target the roller’s effects on a small area of the body, then short foam rollers do the trick. For example, they can give a quick, focused massage to tight hamstrings, one at a time. They are particularly helpful to athletes who rely heavily on the use of their legs, such as runners and cyclists. If you travel a lot and it makes you stiff, a short roller can easily fit in your luggage.
2. Narrow Rollers
Most rollers come with the standard 6-inch (15 cm) diameter but there are 10 cm options available for you to consider. These low-to-the-ground rollers work well for patients undergoing physical therapy and for the elderly, since they give a feeling of greater stability. Beginners may also find that using a narrow roller gives them more confidence before moving on to a larger one. They are then more likely to stick with using rollers for exercise or therapy.
3. Textured Rollers
Textured rollers are meant to provide users with an intense deep tissue massage. They help with myofascial release in extremely tight and compact tissues. If you're just starting, you might want to try a smooth roller before moving up to a textured one that can be more intense.
4. Rollers with a Distinctive Shape
Some rollers come with in variety of shapes that put an element of instability into their use. They are specifically designed to improve balance, body awareness and core strength of people practicing routines in yoga and Pilates.
Best Foam Roller Brands
Several brands stand out among manufacturers of foam rollers. These brands are noted for their years of experience in the industry, the quality and range of their products, and the level of customer service that they provide.
While foam rollers are generally inexpensive, the better known brands are often at the higher end of the scale. Among our top picks for best brands are TriggerPoint Performance, LuxFit and OPTP. Other reliable brands that are highly regarded in customer reviews are RumbleRoller and Master of Muscle.
Founded in 2002 by a triathlete, TriggerPoint Performance is dedicated to self-care products that assist with the relief of muscular pain. Along with their products, they offer information intended to help users better understand how their body works and the beneficial effects the products provide.
The TriggerPoint Performance line includes several variations of the typical foam roller. They also carry other rollers such as their Nano Foot Roller Massagers and a variety of handheld rollers designed for targeting specific areas. Another product in their line-up is the MB5 Massage Ball, meant to help with the relief of muscle tension in hips and shoulders.
LuxFit manufactures, imports and distributors an impressive line of sports and fitness products. They serve the physical and occupational therapy markets, with many of their products used by professionals in hospitals, clinics and fitness centers. They also offer products to support athletic training and for at-home care.
The extensive LuxFit line includes a wide variety of foam rollers, roller sticks and exercise balls. They also have lumbar cushions for back support and seat cushion for relief of coccyx pain and discomfort. LuxFit ventures into Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) with portable TENS machines. These simulate nerves and provide pain relief through the use of small electrical currents.
With products in the categories of physical therapy, fitness and wellness, OPTP's extensive line includes foam rollers, exercise balls, resistance bands, coccyx seat cushions and a wide range of other massage therapy items. The company has been in operation for over 30 years and many of its products are linked to specific therapy techniques developed by fitness professionals.
They also carry an impressive line of educational literature aimed at passing on information to help persons who are exercising or troubled with muscle tension and discomfort. They offer a better understanding of common conditions and how to self-treat them.
OPTP has recently partnered with the Medical Fitness Network in an effort to extend its reach to more persons with chronic conditions and provide them with access to education material, as well as exercise and therapy equipment.
Top 5 Foam Rollers Close- Up
Here’s a look at my top 5 pick of foam rollers available on the market. I based my selection on how well they each fit into the categories of ease of use, versatility, durability and customer reviews. These 5 foam rollers do what you need them to and while some may be at the pricier end of the scale, none will require that you break the bank to take advantage of what they have to offer.
Among the top 5 are models from TriggerPoint Performance, LuxFit and OPTP. Rounding out the set are selections from RumbleRoller and Master of Muscle.
TriggerPoint performance has designed the GRID with proprietary Distrodensity Zones. These are meant to target specific areas of your body and provide an effective and invigorating massage. The good news is that, although at first you may doubt the capabilities of the GRID because it is made with a thinner layer of foam, it works extremely well at doing exactly what it is touted to do.
Its multi-density exterior and superior-quality inner core will stand up to consistent use even in your most intensive workouts. This particular model is of standard density and measures 13 inches by 5.5 inches. It is easy to take along while you are travelling, so you don’t have to miss out on the benefits it adds to your exercise routines.
You can trust the durability of your GRID as it is designed to bear weights of up to 500 pounds and comes backed by a 1 year warranty. Reviews of the TriggerPoint Performance GRID are usually pleased with how well it holds up to constant use. They also comment on the fact that they can use it not just for massages but also as an effective piece of exercise equipment.
This LuxFit foam roller is built for heavy use and is versatile enough to offer a gentle post-workout massage or deep tissue physical therapy. It is constructed of high density polypropylene foam guaranteed to retain its shape and smoothness after repeated use. It comes in three sizes, each of which is quite reasonably priced among rollers of the same specifications. It also comes with a one year warranty.
Unlike the GRID, the LuxFit Premium has one consistent density throughout. That, however, does not stop it from delivering on its promise of real results in terms of relief of muscle tension and effective myofascial release.
In their reviews, experienced foam roller users often commend the reliable assistance it gives as an exercise prop. With a density of two pounds per cubic foot, this is not a foam roller for beginners. Persons who are not accustomed to the effects of high density rollers will generally complain that it is too hard and painful to use.
“Soft yet sturdy” is a very accurate description for the soft-density OPTP Pro-roller. It is ideal for a gentle self-massage and for myofascial release. Its resilient construction features closed-cell ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) with a strengthening and functional cross-link design. It will easily tolerate heavy and repeated use.
This roller has a lightly textured surface, which along with the soft density makes it a good choice if you are new to foam rollers. It is also a good selection if you are simply not in need of the more intense effects that firmer rollers provide.
Disappointed reviews seem to come from users who were expecting a firmer roller. The OPTP Pro-roller Soft Density, however, is just as the name says – soft. Other reviewers who love the product point out how very easily they are able to use it as a prop for many different types of exercises, including yoga and Pilates routines.
4. RumbleRoller Extra Firm
If you are new to the world of foam rollers, then believe me, this RumbleRoller is not for you! If are used to firm rollers and know very well just how your muscles and other tissues will react to the kind of pressure the RumbleRoller promises, then this is the perfect roller for you.
Its “spikes” work like the fingers of a massage therapist, giving you a truly deep tissue massage. They effectively focus pressure on trigger points for a satisfying myofascial release experience. The RumbleRoller is recommended for use in areas where muscle tissue is thickest, such as the hamstrings, glutes and the hip capsule.
There’s no need to worry about the durability of this roller, user reviews of their experience with the product quickly point out how durable it is and how well it weathers constant heavy use. Many reviewers also recommend that you use this RumbleRoller only after you are ready to take a step up from a standard roller!
Master of Muscle’s 13-inch BEST Foam Roller is lightweight, portable, sturdy and gets the job done. Its design helps whether you are an avid athlete or are using the roller as a means of at-home self-care. It provides an invigorating warm-up and much needed assistance with muscle recovery after you have put your muscles through the rigors of your routine.
The BEST will support you up to a 330-pound weight limit and comes with an incredible lifetime warranty that says the manufacturers really have faith in the quality of their product. The surface of this roller is coated to be dirt and lint resistant and will easily wipe clean whenever the need arises.
Reviewers rave about the effectiveness of the roller’s design at helping to soothe knots and relief muscle soreness. For persons who would have preferred it in a slightly longer style, there is a 24-inch version featured below which should satisfy their needs.
The Next 5 Top Foam Rollers
13 x 5.5 inches
Manufacturer's lifetime warranty
Ridges and grooves for deep massage
Effective for self-massage, myofascial release and physical therapy
Durable – retains its shape and does not chip or flake
Comes in two sizes
Not suited for use on the lower back
Fast and effective post-workout pain relief and muscle recovery
Good for myofascial release
Lightweight and portable
A little too narrow for users with a larger frame
Suited for self-massage and relaxation
Durable with repeated use
At the higher end in terms of price
Great for travel at only 13 inches long and 5.5 inches wide and 15 oz.
Initial hollow core design has now been replaced by solid core for greater durability
Good for soft tissue massage
Targets hard to reach areas
Foam Roller Buying Guide
A softer, less dense roller is often recommended for beginners to foam rolling. This allows you to get accustomed to using a roller while you gauge the amount of pressure your particular condition requires and the amount of pressure you can handle. Once you have gained some experience using the softer roller, you can consider upgrading to a denser one if needed.
Remember, though that quite often a soft roller is ideal for achieving muscle relaxation so there may be no need for you to change you soft roller to a firmer one. With a firm roller, however, you are better able to target the massaging effect on particular areas.
A mid-sized foam roller (from 12-16 inches) will suit you if you are around average height. There are longer ones (in the range of 16-24 inches) which work better for taller persons in that there is no need to stop and reposition the roller as you work.
Some roller are made smaller and meant to be taken with you. They will get the job done but will require frequent repositioning to hit all the areas you need to work on. They are convenient, however, if you are travelling and do not wish to do without the benefits of foam rolling.
When it comes to choosing the texture of your foam roller, start off with a smooth one. That way, you can get used to the effect of your weight on the roller before moving on to the sensation of the ridges, spikes and grids.
Once you are moving on to a textured roller, go for one with softer formations to help you get used to the roller’s ability to target specific tissues. Rollers with a more textured surface can wait until you and your muscles have gained experience in how to best manipulate your weight over the roller.
Price and Durability
Inexpensive though foam rollers are, I am betting you are like me and still would rather having one that’s going last an appreciable amount of time even with continued use. You get a better guarantee of the longevity of your roller if you are willing to spend a little extra.
To add to the durability of your roller give it a wipe down after each use and store it in a safe place as per the manufacturer’s suggestions. White and some colored foam rollers will tend to warp more easily than black ones when exposed to humidity.
This video gives some very useful hints on how to use your foam roller.
At first glance, it is easy to discount foam rollers as being able to provide real benefits. Once you start using them, however, you begin to wonder why it took you so long to get on board with something so simple and effective.
Foam rollers come in many variations of texture, size and firmness. You are sure to find one that works perfectly for your needs – whether for gentle or deep tissue massage or for use as an exercise accessory. The best brands of foam rollers incorporate the best features and are still quite reasonably priced as far as fitness equipment go.
With a little research, comparison shopping and by checking out reviews such as this one you are well on your way to finding the ideal foam roller for you.
Product Images Sourced from Amazon.com