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The Best Foam Rollers for Relieving Tight & Sore Muscles

‘Foam rolling’ is now a standard term in health and fitness.

Before only pro-athletes and professional physical therapists seemed to be interested in foam rolling.

However, things have changed and it now seems as though anyone looking to get fit and healthy seems to be getting in on the trend.

Foam rollers are exercise and massage tools that enable you to massage and release tight and sore muscles, and also help speed up recovery after a workout.

By breaking up muscle knots, they relieve tension and provide benefits that extend to the entirety of your body.

This practice of foam rolling allows you to get all these benefits without having to pay for physical therapy, or hire a massage therapist or fitness coach.

In addition to using foam rollers to practice self-massage techniques, you can also use them for exercise, as they’re sometimes used in pilates, yoga and other exercise programs.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the best foam rollers on the market and help you find the best foam roller to help you towards your fitness goals.


How to Choose the Best Foam Roller For Your Needs

Foam rollers come in different sizes, shapes and textures. They also come in different degrees of firmness that can change the intensity of the massage they offer.

There isn’t a particular type of foam roller that is guaranteed to meet everyones need.

Which foam roller works best for you will depend on a number of factors such as how much you have foam rolled before, how tight the muscles in your body are and where in your body you are looking to get relief.

Successfully choosing the correct combination of these traits to best suit your body is key to finding a foam roller that will meet your needs.

In this section, we’ll try to help you decide which qualities you should look for when choosing the best foam roller for you.

Density 

The denser the foam roller the more effective it will be for relieving tight and sore muscles.

Beginners will most likely want something that is dense but still has some softness to it.

A standard foam roller with a medium-density should be fine for starting out.

However, the more your body gets used to rolling, the higher the density you’ll need to find relief.

Bumps/Ridges

You’ll notice some foam rollers have patterns and protrusions on their surfaces.

These are designed to ‘dig’ into the knots more than a flat surface would in order to trigger more effective self-myofascial release.

For most of us, these aren’t necessary and a flat-surfaced foam roller will do.

However, someone who needs more relief will likely find these bumps to be beneficial.

Size

Foam rollers come in different sizes and lengths.

A longer foam roller is easier to stay on than a smaller one, however, the standard size should suit most people.

Another point to consider is that a smaller foam roller is easier to carry around than a longer one if you wish to take it with you when travelling.

Durability

Your foam roller will have to be strong and durable since it will have to support your full body weight for long periods of time.

It should also be one that doesn’t break easily and will last you a long time.

Vibrating Vs Non-Vibrating Foam Roller

A vibrating foam roller will increase the intensity of self-myofascial release you get from your foam roller.

Vibrating foam rollers are charged electrically and are more expensive than non-vibrating foam rollers.

A vibrating foam roller is also likely to be heavier than a standard foam roller since it will need to carry the extra weight of the vibration mechanism.

If you want to increase the effectiveness of your foam roller and are willing to spend a little more, then a vibrating foam roller is well worth a try.

Related: Best Vibrating Foam Rollers


The Best Foam Rollers Worth Trying

If you have muscle soreness or tightness, or if you’re looking for better recovery time between workouts, trying out a foam roller is well worth the investment.

In this section, we look at 10 of the best foam rollers to choose from depending on your needs.

1. Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller

There’s only one way to describe the Amazon Basics foam roller and this is …’basic.’

And that’s not a bad thing.

It’s a simple moulded polypropylene roller with a slightly grippy surface which is good to avoid slipping.

Available at 36 inches it’s also quite long which makes it easy to stay on.

The foam rollers created by AmazonBasics come in different sizes, including a 3-foot long roller longer than most foam rollers on the market.

This allows you to do more movements with the roller and target more muscle groups at a time when you align your back along its length.

It isn’t as high quality as some of the other foam rollers on this list, however, it is good value for money.

Although it is quite dense, people who have rolled before may want something more firm.

If you want to experiment with foam rolling this could be a good starter option due to its price.

Pros: Has a rough texture that won’t slip on clothing or mats, longer models available, durable, great value at a reasonable price

Cons: Provides a deeper massage, may not be intense enough for some people

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2. OPTP Pro-Roller

The OPTP Pro Roller is made with durable material, but there are other products out there with similar quality for a lower price.

While it’s priced higher than its competitors, it’s guaranteed to last a long time without flattening.

The density of the OPTP Pro Roller is high enough to do its job and loosen tight muscles and it’s a lot softer than the AmazonBasics foam roller.

The OPTP Pro-Roller is a better option if you need a lower intensity level.

This is a great option for beginners.

However, if you have foamed rolled before you may be better off with a foam roller with high-density foam.

Pros: Make with high-quality material that is guaranteed to last, provides a softer feel and lower intensity than other rollers

Cons: Pricey, too soft for people who need a high-intensity massage

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3. TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

This foam roller isn’t as pricey as the OPTP Pro-Roller, but it’s more costly than most of its competitors.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for an intense massage, its unique texture could make it worth the price.

Its multi-density exterior is designed with ridges that help you hit trigger points as if you’re being massaged by hand.

If you need a high-intensity deep tissue massage you may not find anything else like it.

However, it’s harder and more painful than some rollers because of its therapeutic-grade intensity.

This foam roller is an intermediate level foam roller in terms of density and it should be dense enough to release most muscles.

It’s also extremely durable and is unlikely to break or become unusable in the future like many other rollers.

Pros: Designed specifically for an effective deep tissue massage, helps you get hard-to-massage trigger points, durable and built to last

Cons: May be too hard for beginners, costs more than many foam rollers

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4. RumbleRoller

Like the TriggerPoint GRID foam roller, the Rumble Roller has a unique, patented exterior designed for deep tissue massage.

The Rumble Roller has extra bumps and ridges to dig deep into sore and tight muscles.

This kind of roller will provide much more relief than flat-surfaced rollers, however, the experience will be much more intense (at least in the beginning).

It is available in different lengths (12, 22 and 31 inches) and also has two options of density, Original and Extra Firm.

Beginners may want to stay away from this model until they have loosened up most muscles.

Overall, if you want an intense foam roller to relieve hard-to-reach trigger points then this is by far the best foam roller on the list for that.

But beware, this is a very intense foam roller and will be very painful to use until you get used to it.

Pros: Very intense if that’s what you need, different options for different intensity levels, therapeutic exterior designed for deep tissue massage and point-of-pain therapy

Cons: Pricey, not recommended for beginners due to its steep ridges

Related: Rumble Roller review.

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5. Brazyn Morph Trek Foam Roller

The Brazyn Morph Trek foam roller is collapsible and convenient for travel, and its firm exterior is designed with steep ridges for effective myofascial release.

This foam roller is great for people who have always wanted to take their foam roller with them to the gym but couldn’t due to the large size of most foam rollers.

Some users of this product compared it to the TriggerPoint GRID roller based on its professional-grade quality and effectiveness, but with the added bonus of better portability.

It comes at a high price, however, as it’s more expensive than the TriggerPoint GRID and many other foam rollers.

Buy this foam roller if you want something portable and easy to take with you on your travels.

Pros: Collapsable for portability, designed with ridges for trigger-point deep tissue massage and myofascial release

Cons: Expensive

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6. Rollga Foam Roller

The Rollga foam roller is shaped with grooves so that it can bypass bones and hit only muscle.

This can prove more comfortable if you find other foam rollers too intense and painful on the bone.

On the other hand, its material is very firm with little “give” to it.

While it may take the pressure off your bones, it still delivers firm pressure to hard-to-reach fascia and muscles around them.

The Rollga comes with a carry strap you can use for bringing it to the gym or anywhere else you may need it.

Pros: More comfortable and less painful than some foam rollers, effectively reaches trigger points for myofascial release by bypassing the bone

Cons: Groove placement on the roller isn’t “one size fits all” and some users report the roller was too large or too small for them

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7. TriggerPoint CHARGE Ridged Foam Roller

The CHARGE ridged foam roller from TriggerPoint has a unique design that can provide a more advanced form of myofascial release.

It’s best for those already experienced with some form of deep tissue massage because it can be too painful for beginners.

Users describe it feels like plastic more than foam.

It’s hard, dense and has steep, narrow ridges that dig into your tissue when your body weight is applied.

The opposing high and wide ridges stretch your muscles as the higher, more narrow ridges squeeze them, boosting blood flow to hard-to-reach tissue.

Weighing 2.2 pounds, it’s sturdy and made with high-quality material.

If you are looking for something a little different and with a little more intensity, this is a good option.

Pros: Provides an advanced myofascial release for those needing greater intensity, heavy-duty, high-quality and durable, made with athletes in mind to accelerate muscle recovery

Cons: Too painful for non-experienced users, doesn’t give you a low-intensity option or a ridgeless surface to roll on

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8. Acumobility The Ultimate Back Roller

Shorter in length and wider in width than a typical foam roller, the yoga wheel back roller from Acumobility is a foam roller designed specifically for your back.

Use it to target your mid, lower or upper back a section at a time, and even the back of your neck.

Strong enough to support up to 1,000 pounds in weight, it has ridges and gaps that allow you to dig into back muscles without hurting your spine.

This roller is made of tough EVA moulded foam that makes it durable and long-lasting.

Unlike other foam rollers, you can use this one against a wall because of its width that makes it easy to roll.

If the intensity is too strong on your back, you can put a towel over the foam to soften the ridges.

Some users felt the foam roller was dangerous to use when they got started because of the intensity and the risk of hurting a muscle or bruising a bone.

This is the most effective option to help relieve back pain and improve your posture, so it may be worth getting help from a massage therapist or personal trainer if you think this roller is right for you.

Pros: Durable, high-quality and long-lasting, offers an intense massage for working out muscle knots anywhere on your back

Cons: Could be dangerous for beginners without help, not designed for use on other body parts besides your back and neck

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9. RAD Helix

The RAD Helix is a high-density foam roller with a unique design you can use to massage and release your back, legs and glutes.

There is a deep groove in the centre of the roller so that the two ridges can massage your back while your spine sits in the groove untouched.

These ridges also let you apply extra pressure beyond what a smooth foam roller could, whether you use it on your back, neck, legs or glutes.

In fact, RAD claims there are exactly 17 muscle groups you can target with the tool, including the lats, serratus, rotator cuff and quadratus lumborum.

Many users report it works more effectively for pain and muscle recovery than other foam rollers, but if you’re a beginner, the high density will feel quite painful at first.

Some have reported bruising from using it on their back, so you may want to begin with a towel over the roller or wear more clothing while using it until you get more comfortable using it.

A flaw with the design is that it’s too short in length to roll on with your back as you would a regular foam roller on the floor.

You have to use it against the wall if you want to target your back, unless you turn sideways and massage the sides of your torso.

On the plus side, you can use this tool to work out tension in your jaw, hands, feet and other areas you can’t target with a more traditional foam roller.

Made of high-quality EVA foam, the RAD Helix durable and easy to wipe clean.

Pros: Provides a higher intensity with ridges, made with high-density durable material and built to last, more versatile than most foam rollers, allowing you to massage head to toe, made with EVA foam

Cons: Doesn’t stretch the width of your back so you can’t roll your back on it on the floor, too intense for some users because of the foam’s extra high density

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10. TriggerPoint Carbon Deep Tissue Foam Roller

The Carbon deep tissue foam roller from TriggerPoint comes in two different lengths: 13 inches and 26 inches.

It has firm, protrusive nodes that dig into muscle tissue as you roll along the spiky surface.

TriggerPoint gives you a 1-year limited warranty on the foam roller, and it’s made with durable, strong material.

Made for users experienced with myofascial release, the deep tissue massage you get with this foam roller is extremely intense.

Some users only use it vertically against the wall, because applying bodyweight is too much pressure.

Avid users of the TriggerPoint Carbon report they still feel pain using it because of the intensity level, but it gives them great results.

If you want a massage tool that can help you relax, this may not be the best option.

Overdoing it with this foam roller is easy for beginners to do, and it can actually cause more muscle tightness.

Pros: Provides a deeper massage and higher intensity than typical foam rollers, comes in different lengths, effective for working out the most stubborn knots and helping muscle injuries heal

Cons: Too intense for many users, it’s easier to injure yourself with this foam roller

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The Best Foam Roller: Recommendations

The best all-round intermediate foam roller is the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller.

It comes in various sizes and colours but the best thing about it is how durable it is.

Many other foam rollers may deteriorate after years of use, however, we use our TriggerPoint foam rollers for years and have not seen any hint of damage.

The TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller can withstand 500lbs of weight and comes with a 1-year warranty. It is also priced fairly and represents great value for money.

If you want a foam roller that is intense and able to dig deep into your muscles then there is no better than the Rumble Roller.

It comes in many sizes and different intensities so you’re bound to find the combination of traits you are looking for with the Rumble Roller.

If this is your first foam roller and you want something that is cheap and cheerful.

The AmazonBasics Foam roller is a good option for beginners given its low price and relatively high-quality.


How to Use Your New Foam Roller

It’s easy to get started with your own physical therapy and self- myofascial relief work when you get a foam roller.

Many foam roller companies offer online videos for training on how to use the product effectively so be sure to watch the instruction video for your new roller.

However, it always helps to have a physical therapist or fitness coach who is familiar with foam rollers so that you can get the most out of them.

When you first start rolling you’ll hit many points which feel extremely tender.

The idea is to hold the position and to embrace the discomfort until you feel the pain subside. Experts usually say that you should hold on to the position for at least 30 seconds.

Note that if you are extremely tight and have stored a lot of tightness in the body over the years, you may find that you are constantly finding new trigger points every day.

Therefore, the process can take many days, weeks or months.

Foam Rollers and Other Myofascial Release Tools

It may take a few goes before you find the right foam roller.

The first foam roller you buy may feel too hard for you, however, over time you’ll discover that it’s in fact too soft!

The basic idea for finding the right foam roller is to get a good quality foam roller that suits your basic needs and then supplement your additional needs (deeper trigger points) with massage balls and other myofascial release tools that are specialised for deeper release.

If you’ve never foam rolled – start now! You won’t regret it!