What do active people do when their muscles are stiff, sore, and fatigued? They reach for one of their handy foam rollers and get to work. But what are the benefits of these strange fitness tools? And how do you choose the right roller for your own foam rolling routine?

Whether you've recently adopted a healthier lifestyle or have been active for ages, you're probably familiar with negative side effects like stiffness, sore muscles, and knots. While foam rollers aren't miracle cures, they can help treat these ailments and keep you on the move.


Comparison Table 

What Are Foam Rollers?

different sizes of foam rollers

Image source: Pixabay

Foam rollers are a piece of fitness equipment made of, you guessed it, foam. They look very similar to a large rolling pin. Athletes use these devices to roll their muscles, similar to a type of​self-massage​. But foam rollers allow you to reach areas of your body that you otherwise wouldn't be able to massage or apply pressure to. The rolling motion is also useful for massaging muscles from end-to-end, which helps stretch and release tension.

Foam rollers come in many different sizes. Smaller rollers are best for massaging the limbs, while larger ones allow you to roll the whole back at once. 

DIfferent roller sizes can also accommodate different sized individuals. Foam rollers will often vary in their firmness. If you haven't used any foam rollers before or are recovering from an injury, then a softer foam roller is the best option. Experienced users can upgrade to a firmer roller for maximum benefits. Some foam rollers feature bumps or other distinct textures that add an extra element of massage. While these extra features aren't necessary to experience benefits from foam rollers, you might find that you have a personal preference for one or another.

What Does a Foam Roller Do?

One of the greatest things about foam rollers is how affordable they are. Most foam rollers cost less than $50, and some are even cheaper. Those that cost more than $50 typically have a vibration feature. While this feature can help release extra tension in the muscles and joints, it's certainly not necessary.

Not only are foam rollers an affordable investment, but they should also last for years even with regular use. Heavier individuals might need to replace their foam rollers more often as the foam breaks down, but this will depend on the foam roller's quality in the first place.

Heat therapy

Remove lactic acid

Reduce adhesions

Overall Price

foam roller for exrcise

Image source: Pixabay

One of the greatest things about foam rollers is how affordable they are. Most foam rollers cost less than $50, and some are even cheaper. Those that cost more than $50 typically have a vibration feature. While this feature can help release extra tension in the muscles and joints, it's certainly not necessary.


Not only are foam rollers an affordable investment, but they should also last for years even with regular use. Heavier individuals might need to replace their foam rollers more often as the foam breaks down, but this will depend on the foam roller's quality in the first place.

Choosing the Right Foam Roller

Foam roller for exercise or workout

Image source: Pixaba​​​​y

Choosing the right foam roller for your fitness routine is important for getting as many benefits as possible. All in all, while foam rollers probably won't solve all of your physical aches, pains, and tightness, it's a great addition to any fitness routine. Some of the biggest benefits of using a foam roller as a regular part of your regimen include:

  • Combined with stretching, foam rolling is great for increasing muscle and ligament flexibility
  • Proper foam rolling can ease tension symptoms like headaches
  • High-quality foam rollers are much cheaper than a massage or physical therapy
  • Foam rolling could improve your posture

However, there are some potential downsides to using a foam roller. While some of these cons are a result of using a foam roller incorrectly, not all are. Here are some reasons you should proceed with caution when introducing to foam rolling to your routine:

  • Used incorrectly, a foam roller could cause injury
  • Foam rolling an already injured muscle can cause it and surrounding muscles to tighten up further
  • Foam rollers won't provide quite the same relief as a professional masseuse or therapist

How we reviewed

Since most foam rollers are pretty similar in construction and style, for our review we chose products of exceptional quality and with unique features. We chose a vibrating roller, trigger point roller, collapsible roller, and traditional foam roller. For each product, we looked at key features, product specifications, customer ratings and reviews, and pricing. These foam rollers are listed in no particular order.


SPRI Super High-Density Foam Roller

SPRI Foam Roller High Density Extra Firm Muscle Massage Roller (Available in 12, 18, 36-Inch Lengths)
  • HIGH DENSITY FOAM ROLLER: Ultra rigid foam roller provides maximum firmness for an extra tough and firm massage
  • BUILT FOR REPEATED USE: Foam roller maintains shape after repeated use and is built to a professional grade quality and designed for commercial gyms and clubs to be used 100 times a day versus 100 times a year in a home gym
  • IMPROVE CORE STRENGTH: Perfect for developing core stabilization, lower body balance and stamina
  • MUSCLE MASSAGE RELIEF: May also be used for gentle stretching and self-mobilization of joints and spine
  • MASSAGE GUIDE INCLUDED: A downloadable massage guide is included to help get you started!

One of the most popular foam rollers is the SPRI Super High-Density Foam Roller. This SPRI foam roller is a great basic option for a beginner foam roller and is available for use in many commercial gyms. The roller is constructed of strong, dense foam without any extra bumps or contours. It's also available in an 18-inch and 36-inch model to suit all sizes and shapes.


The SPRI Super High-Density Foam Roller is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars by Amazon customers. Positive reviews mentioned this foam roller's durability, simple construction, and the hardness of the foam material. Some negative reviews complained that this foam roller was too firm for their muscles, while others said that it was not firm enough to meet their expectations.


You can purchase this foam roller at Amazon, Target, and SPRI.


Rollga Foam Roller

Rollga Foam Roller - Standard: Self Massage & Trigger Point Release Muscle Roller, Medium Density Foam Version (Silver)
  • AWARD WINNING - Runners World magazine editors choice 2018.
  • IMPROVED RECOVERY - Simulate oxygen rich blood flow and improve muscle mobility and flexibility.
  • IDEAL SHAPE - Contours fit your body to target muscles while avoiding bones and tendons.
  • CONVENIENT SIZE - 18'' length and ultra lightweight for easy travel.
  • DURABLE - Professional grade foam that can hold over 2000 lbs.

One of the most popular foam rollers is the SPRI Super High-Density Foam Roller. This SPRI foam roller is a great basic option for a beginner foam roller and is available for use in many commercial gyms. The roller is constructed of strong, dense foam without any extra bumps or contours. It's also available in an 18-inch and 36-inch model to suit all sizes and shapes.


The SPRI Super High-Density Foam Roller is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars by Amazon customers. Positive reviews mentioned this foam roller's durability, simple construction, and the hardness of the foam material. Some negative reviews complained that this foam roller was too firm for their muscles, while others said that it was not firm enough to meet their expectations.


You can purchase this foam roller at Amazon, Target, and SPRI.


Phenom 3 Speed Vibrating Foam Roller

Monument Phenom 3 Speed Vibrating Foam Roller - Myofascial Recovery | Release Tension, Stiff Sore Muscles; Enhance Mobility, Performance, and Pliability Training Deep Tissue Massage (Black)
  • ATTACK POST WORKOUT SORENESS: Tired of feeling sore after a CrossFit WOD or gym workout? This is the perfect tool to combat soreness. Preprogrammed frequencies allow the gel molded foam nodules to drive the vibration right into where you need it the most. The pulsations combined with rolling help flush out metabolites helping rejuvenate your sore muscles and decrease muscle tension.
  • BEST IN CLASS ERGONOMICS: Carefully designed taking your body’s anatomy and biomechanics into account. This is the only vibrating fitness roller that allows you to roll out your sore back muscles while supporting your spine. The dual function spine grove was also designed to roll out your Achilles tendon reducing tension from one of the most commonly injured areas in all sports.
  • SIMPLE TO USE: Designed specifically to help you recover faster, avoid injury, and increase mobility. With just 3 vibration frequencies scientifically backed to decrease recovery time, we make it easy for any athlete from elite to amateur to hit your fitness and athletic performance goals. Just turn it on and start rolling against the foam to relieve your stiff, achy, sore muscles.
  • INTEGRAL PART OF ATHLETIC SUCCESS: Used by professional athletes, trainers, therapists as a key part of daily recovery and injury mitigation. Ideally used to promote the increase of muscle pliability, mobility, flexibility, and range of movement by up to 40%. Used by professionals to bust down knots, scar tissue, and trigger points decreasing stiffness and pain. Perfect for calves, hamstrings, back, glues, IT band, quads and shoulders
  • Portable, Rechargeable, Convenient – Includes aca rechargeable lithium ion battery capable of up to 3 hours of use time. Built in handle allows you to take to the gym, box, studio, or office without hassle. Also includes 1 year manufacturer’s warranty, quick use instructions, and AC charger.

If a standard foam roller isn't quite intense enough, then the Phenom 3 Speed Vibrating Foam Roller might be more your style. As the product name implies, this foam roller offers vibration as well as traditional self-massage. The roller's surface has many bumps, as well as a wide channel to support your spine when rolling your back. The vibration feature includes several preset frequencies for increasing blood circulation, relaxation, and loosening muscles. The foam roller's motor recharges with a wall plug-in. It also features a detachable carrying handle.


The Phenom 3 Speed Vibrating Foam Roller is rated 5 out of 5 stars by Amazon customers. Customer reviews discussed this foam roller's long battery life, strong vibration, and varying strength levels. This foam roller is currently available from Amazon.

Brazyn Morph Trek Foam Roller

Brazyn Morph Bravo Foam Roller - Collapsible & Portable Muscle Back Massager for Myofascial Release Massage (Midnight Blue)
  • IT FITS IN YOUR EVERYDAY BAG SO YOU CAN ROLL MORE OFTEN: Your body and mind are your greatest assets. Regular foam rolling has been proven to have huge benefits on both. With the world’s first truly portable roller, you can manage pain and speed your recovery no matter where you are. ROLL MORE, FEEL BETTER, and CONQUER THE DAY with your Morph!
  • NOT MADE IN CHINA: We get it, $68 may seem like a lot to spend on a foam roller, but The Morph is not your typical roller. It takes a team of European craftsmen (and craftswomen) nearly an hour to assemble over 60 individual pieces into this one of a kind FOLD FLAT mobility tool (no drain pipes covered in foam here). The result is the most convenient and usable roller on the market… making it the most effective foam roller available.
  • AS EASY AS PULL AND PUSH: With a quick tug on the easy pull ropes, your Morph will expand into a full size, 5.5” diameter muscle roller. It’s 14.5” long so it will span across your entire back. When you’re finished, push firmly on the disks at the end of the roller and it will collapse back down. It’s now ready to be stashed back into your daily bag. Collapse. Stash. Go.
  • PORTABLE, STURDY, AND KINDER TO THE ENVIRONMENT: The Morph Bravo weighs in at only 1.5 lbs and collapses down to less than 2 inches thick (slimmer than two folded shirts). But don’t let the slender form fool you, The Morph has been tested to support up to 350 lbs. Science! With a form factor that small, there's no reason to leave recovery and mobility training at home.
  • MADE WITH BAMBOO AND RECYCLABLE ALUMINUM. One Roller Per Purchase. AS SEEN ON SHARK TANK.

The Brazyn Morph Trek Foam Roller is a pretty standard foam roller but with one key feature: it collapses flat for​travel and storage​. This roller was debuted on Shark Tank in 2017 and is now available to consumers. Despite its special folding feature, it reportedly supports up to 350 pounds so it won't collapse during use. Removable covers make it easy to keep your foam roller protected and clean while on the road or trail.

The Brazyn Morph Trek Foam Roller is rated 3.8 out of 5 stars by Amazon customers. Positive reviews mentioned this foam roller's unique portability and overall effectiveness. Negative reviewers felt that the foam roller was too hard and didn't provide a good self-massage. This foam roller is available from Amazon and Brazyn Life.


Verdict

Choosing the right foam roller can make or break your experience with recovery and self-massage. If this is your first foray into foam rolling, we recommend sticking with the traditional SPRI foam roller. While the foam material is pretty hard, your rolling technique is the ultimate determinant when it comes to the pressure applied to your joints and muscles. We feel it's best to stick with this tried-and-true foam roller before expanding into the world of contours, bumps, and vibrations.