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

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

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

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

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.