The Best Foam Roller
Table of Contents
11 Best Foam Rollers in 2023
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Foam Rollers Buying Guide
Foam rolling is a great way to help you recover from all kinds of workouts by loosening uptight and achy muscles, by giving yourself a deep-tissue massage through self-administered myofascial release (SMR).
The process involves using your own body weight, to stimulate and relax your muscles.
There are lots of foam rollers available, in different shapes and sizes and some are best for relieving specific knots. How do you know which foam roller to select?
We’ve summarized all the key considerations you may want to take into account to ensure you choose the most effective foam roller for you.
Foam rollers are constructed to help alleviate sore muscles and can be an effective tool to use either pre or post-workout.
A foam roller enables you to get a deep tissue massage, administered by yourself at home.
Using a foam roller has become a popular recovery and performance tool that amateur fitness enthusiasts to professional-grade athletes and fitness coaches are using to stretch sore muscles, release painful knots, and target pressure points.
To use it, you slowly roll an area of your body, like your back, or your calves, back and forth across the top of the foam roller.
Benefits of Foam Rollers
Using a foam roller helps to release tension in the muscles, alleviate muscle soreness and helps to improve range of motion and flexibility, and boost recovery and performance.
Foam rollers help to increase blood flow to various parts of the body and they are effective in helping users to recover from muscle fatigue and stiffness, soreness, and or injuries by acting as a home massage.
Features of a Best Foam Roller
Foam rollers come in different densities, which defines how they feel and who they are best suited to. Most rollers are broken down into three categories: soft, medium, or firm.
Foam rollers are often color-coded to reflect their firmness level.
- Soft Density Rollers - These are designed to offer comfort vs. a deeper massage that firm rollers provide. They give a gentler massage to the muscles. If you are new to using a foam roller, it may be advisable to start with a soft density one. Most soft rollers are white.
- Standard Density Rollers - These have a medium level of firmness and typically they are colorful. Medium-density is ideal if you are looking for a firmer amount of pressure.
- Firm Density - If you are looking for a deeper, more intense massage then opt for a firm density roller, which comes in black. This is as firm as a roller gets.
Shape and Size
Foam rollers come in a range of sizes. Below are the more common types seen on the market.
- Traditional Full-Size - The traditional foam roller is 36 inches in length and roughly 6 inches in diameter, making it versatile for a variety of uses. It’s excellent for massaging larger muscle groups, spanning your entire back.
- Shorter Length - Shorter foam rollers are great if you’re looking for a portable one for the gym, or for traveling. They are 6 inches in diameter and are either 12 or 18 inches in length. They are excellent to target more precise areas.
- Smaller Diameter - These foam rollers typically have a 4-inch diameter, making them lower to the floor. They are great for the elderly and physical therapy patients.
- Ridges or Bumps - If you’re looking for a more intense or deeper massage then you may want a foam roller that has protrusions, allowing a more precision massage. These foam rollers get into the tightest of knots to offer relief by mimicking the hands of a masseuse.
- Flat Half-Size - Aesthetically, this type of foam roller looks like it's been cut in half lengthwise. These foam rollers are used for leg and foot stretches, and to massage the arches of the feet.
The material used to construct a foam roller can help define how long it will last and what the primary purpose of its usage is.
- Open-Cell - In terms of durability, rollers made with open-cell construction have a tendency to break down more than closed-cell rollers. Price-wise they are the cheapest option on the market.
- EPP Foam - These foam rollers are made from EPP beads and are high quality, yet price-wise they remain quite economical. They are quite versatile, whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned foam roller.
- EVA Foam - These foam rollers are made from EVA foam and are durable. They are designed to endure heavy, repeated usage, typically expected in professional gyms or pilates and or yoga studios. Making these a top choice for at-home use too.
Foam Rollers FAQ
How often should you use a foam roller?
There is no hard and fast rule as to how often you should use a foam roller. Consistent usage yields the most effective results.
Many people use a foam roller on a daily basis, or try to be disciplined to use a foam roller at least three or four times a week to target specific muscle groups and aid recovery for their next workout.
Should a foam roller hurt?
If your muscles are sore, stiff or you have a tender spot with an extremely tight knot or knots, using a foam roller may cause a certain level of discomfort. This is very normal and to be expected.
It is up to you to determine how much body weight pressure to exert when focused on a particularly tender spot.
If you can handle it, target tight knots or tight areas for anything from five seconds to thirty seconds. The tenderness should slowly dissipate from the tender spot.
Foam Rollers Sources
- Recovery in Training: The Essential Ingredient – UNM
- Recovery After Exercise: What is the Current State of Play? – Science Direct
- The Effects of Self-Myofascial Release Using a Foam Roll or Roller Massager on Joint Range of Motion, Muscle Recovery, and Performance – NCBI
- Should You Add Foam Rolling to Your Workout Routine? – Harvard Medical School
- The Influence of Foam Rolling on Recovery From Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage – ResearchGate
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