Foam rollers are one of those objects you see in the gym and wonder “what is that and how do you work out with it?” Their purpose is to actually help your muscles recover.
Sure you can use tennis balls or medicine balls, but these foam rollers cover more surface area and can even have nubs to help get those trigger points for myofascial pain.
You can use a foam roller post-workout, you can use it pre-workout, or you can use it at your leisure anytime you need to get a deep tissue massage.
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Why Use a Foam Roller and How Do They Work?
Foam rollers work and lengthen muscles simply by rolling your targeted area on them. The cylindrical foam provides pressure to your sore muscles and fascia, loosening targeted areas and working through knots. This helps reduce the pain of worked muscles (after causing some pain of its own) and prevent injuries.
The benefits don’t just stop there though. Stimulated muscles help oxygenate blood flow. After regular use, you will start to have relieved muscles, reduced joint pain, and increased mobility.
Great. So, which one should you get? Are they all the same?
The golden rule is to get something that meets your needs. You should look for a roller that is lightweight, easy to store, and yet dense enough to dig into trigger points without bruising. Read on to see some of the best picks by category.
Best All Around Foam Roller – TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
I was first pointed towards this brand at my local running shoe store. They sold me on a handheld TriggerPoint roller that 5K runners and beyond swore by. Later on, I found out that TriggerPoint has won the hearts and minds of all kinds of athletic groups of people.
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Rollers have bumps and ridges to simulate a hands-on massage, and they have a firm core to help support you while keeping the shape. The bumps and ridges feel weird at first, making you feel a bumpy sensation until you get the correct pressure.
And the best part is the core isn’t too dense, where you would bruise instead of stretching. Give it a whirl if you are looking for a new foam roller, and don’t want to get too in the weeds looking for options.
Best High-Density Foam Rollers
AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller
If you are looking for something without focused pressure, especially if it is one of the cheaper options, then look no further than the High-Density Foam Roller by AmazonBasics. Sometimes you need something simple and don’t need a bunch of muscles worked at once.
12", 18", 24", 36"
LuxFit High-Density Foam Roller
This High-Density Foam Roller isn’t much different than the previous one. I’m offering it here as a potential pick if you like to skip over the AmazonBasics brand (which is really just a rebrand). Most people would be in this basic high-density foam roller camp.
This no-frills roller is firm and smooth, without slipping on your skin. Give one of these a go if this is right down your alley.
Extra Firm with 3 Year Warranty
Best Medium-Density Foam Roller – OPTP LoRox Aligned Foam Roller
You may find out after letting loose a few expletives that the high-density foam roller isn’t for you. Or simply put, there are times when you want something a little softer. This is where a medium-density foam roller comes in.
The OPTP LoRox Aligned Foam Roller is great for warming up and relaxing those worked muscles. If you get this foam roller, try to put it underneath your back and feel the stretch. This technique will also help improve your posture.
Best Vibrating Foam Rollers
Sometimes, you just want to add a little tech to your stretching sessions. With different speeds and intensities, you can better control your stretching session. Take a look at one or both of these options below.
Hyperice Vyper 3 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller
If you’ve ever used an electric massager, you have an idea of where this roller is going. The vibration really adds extra relief to the muscles, especially the legs.
The Hyperice Vyper 3 High-Intensity Roller is great if you don’t like bumps in your foam roller (like the TriggerPoint) since it offers ridges. You will also get an increased range of motion to boot.
Epitomie Fitness VIBRA Vibrating Foam Roller
If you need a little more oomph than ridges, you can choose the VIBRA Vibrating Foam Roller with a honeycomb grid to better match a massage therapist’s fingers.
Either way, either one of these would be a good pick.
Best Foam Rollers for Travel
Sometimes you have to destress and stretch on your own, on the road.
Brazyn Morph Trek Foam Roller
This Morph Trek Foam Roller stands out among the rest since it is collapsible. The best reason to get a travel-style foam roller is that it is easily carried with you. The density for this option is right in the middle, providing relief to work out tight hip flexors and other areas of your lower body.
For Home, Gym, Office, Travel, Athletes - Collapsible & Lightweight Roller for Trigger Point Massage, Myofascial Release (Bravo Series (Traditional) - Midnight)
OPTP LO ROX Aligned Travel Size Roller
OPTP LO ROX Aligned Travel Size Roller is another great option with EVA foam that’s easy to travel with, although this one doesn’t collapse like the Morph Trek above. This is the travel-sized version of the OPTP LoRox Aligned Foam Roller mentioned in the best medium-density foam roller above.
TriggerPoint Mobility Pack
The TriggerPoint Mobility Pack offers the same GRID foam roller you would expect but in travel size. Although the GRID Foam Roller won best all-around, this portable version is still quite bulky, coming in at least an inch larger in length and diameter each.
MB1 Massage Ball, and GRID Strap