How to Find the Best Foam Roller in 2021 – Easy Relief for Your Sore Muscles
When you feel sore after a workout, you just need to wait for it to pass.
That’s a piece of ‘common wisdom’ that everyone who’s been to the gym has heard at least once. But is it correct?
Well, no! When your muscles are hurting, you should do something about it!
But what can you do?
Don’t worry – there are quite a few options available, and one of the best is using a foam roller to massage your muscles and get a bit of additional workout in.
Today you’re going to find out about the best foam rollers available!
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- Best Foam Rollers: Comparison Chart
- What are Foam Rollers and How do They Work?
- The Benefits that Foam Rollers Can Offer to You
- How to Pick the Best Foam Roller: The 4 Factors You Should Consider
- The Best Foam Rollers in 2021: Top 5 Recommendations
- 1. AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller – The Best Smooth Foam Roller
- 2. TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller – The Best Foam Roller Overall
- 3. Prosource Fit High Density Extra Firm Foam Roller – The Best Budget Foam Roller
- 4. LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller – The Best Long Foam Roller
- 5. NextRoller 3-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller – The Best Vibrating Foam Roller
- Foam Roller FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- The Final Verdict
Best Foam Rollers: Comparison Chart
Not everyone has time to read full-length reviews, and I appreciate that – that’s why I made this quick reference chart which compares the best foam rollers of 2021 to each other:
|Our Top Picks|
|The Best Smooth Foam Roller|
|The Best Foam Roller Overall|
|The Best Budget Foam Roller|
|The Best Long Foam Roller|
|The Best Vibrating Foam Roller|
What are Foam Rollers and How do They Work?
When you first lay your eyes on a foam roller, you’ll probably think that it looks rather simple, like a round piece of foam with some grooves on it if you’re lucky.
How can something like that help you?
Well, foam rollers are much more than just simple pieces of foam – or at least the good ones are – and if you use them properly, they can help a lot. Here’s how.
The application of a foam roller leads to something called myofascial release – the relaxation of muscles through the application of a low-intensity force.
This promotes better blood flow in the muscles and eliminates knots, allowing your muscles to be more flexible and perform better without any internal rubbing and stress.
To achieve this effect you only need to place the roller on a hard surface, out the body part you want to roll onto it and gently move back and forth. There’s more technique to it than that, but that’s the gist of it.
While foam rolling does help you feel better in the long run, it can be quite painful while you’re doing it. Don’t worry; this is completely normal.
But what do you feel pain while foam rolling?
That’s because foam rolling is breaking up the tiny knots that form in your muscles after micro-tears are healed. After exercise, it hurts because your muscles are already sore and tender, but it helps reduce that soreness by relieving the tension in the muscle, so it’s good overall.
The Benefits that Foam Rollers Can Offer to You
If they’re used regularly and properly, foam rollers can offer a ton of benefits – but there are some that you’ll be able to notice after just one use!
I’ve listed just some of them, but there are many more that I had to leave out:
- Using a foam roller leads to myofascial release, making your muscles more relaxed and more flexible.
- This also leads to better blood flow in the muscles allowing them to be more hydrated and improving their range of motion.
- Constantly stimulating your muscles this way, before and after exercise, reduces the risk of injury due to stiff muscles.
- If you have had an injury recently, regular foam rolling before you got it and during the recovery will speed-up the recovery process.
- Foam rolling also helps you recover quicker after an exercise since it relaxes your muscles and promotes better blood circulation.
- You can also use a foam roller to help reduce the tension in your back and neck from long hours of working at a computer or a desk.
How to Pick the Best Foam Roller: The 4 Factors You Should Consider
There are so many foam rollers on the market – after all, it’s so easy to make one since anyone can just throw out a piece of foam and call it a roller.
It’s more difficult to make a good one and even more difficult to find one.
To help you with that I’ve made a list of everything you need to consider when buying one – read on to find that out!
Foam rollers started out being rather simple but, over the years, many different, distinct types developed, each with a specific purpose in mind.
I can’t cover all the types here, but I’ll do my best to give you an overview of the most important ones:
Smooth foam rollers – These are the most common foam rollers you’ll see – they look like thick, smooth foam cylinders. They’re the most basic type of foam roller, and one of the most widely used ones since they’ll fit most people quite well and they’re a good starting point if you’re just getting into foam rolling.
Textured foam rollers – For the most part these rollers look like basics ones, but they’re not smooth. Their surface is textured, usually similar to a car tire. The bumps and grooves on the surface can be mild or extremely pronounced, depending on the individual model.
The texture is designed to dig into your muscles in order to hit certain trigger points and break up muscle knots more effectively. However, they might feel uncomfortable to use.
Half round foam rollers – These foam rollers look like a regular foam roller that was cut in half length-wise. They’re made for people who don’t want their roller to move during exercise. This can be because they can’t move as much (due to injury or recent surgery) or they don’t have enough space and so on. They’re especially good for use with your feet and treating plantar fasciitis.
Foam sticks – These are basically your regular rolling pins covered with a layer of foam, providing a middle point between the flexibility of the pins and the function that foam rollers provide. Using them on areas like your back and neck is much easier than with regular foam rollers.
Vibrating foam rollers – These are foam rollers that have a built-in vibration function. They come in many shapes and forms, but most of them are like regular smooth rollers. They offer that extra bit of functionality and comfort and act almost like electrical massagers.
Foam balls – Yes, rollers also come in the shape of balls, and they’re constructed the same way. Still, some don’t consider these balls to be foam rollers at all, but that’s a matter of debate. They are better for targeting specific parts of the body and work well for curved areas.
The size of foam rollers can vary greatly – there are extremely long and extremely short rollers out there and what will fit depends on you.
You need to consider all of the different dimensions when picking a roller in order to get the right size for you.
Length – Foam rollers can be as long as 36 inches or as short as 4 inches, and there’s a big difference between the two.
Longer rollers are great for use on your back since they can cover everything from your neck to the base of your spine. Due to their size, it’s best if you use them at home.
Shorter rollers around 20 to 24 inches in length are much better for areas like your arms and legs since they’re more maneuverable. Extremely short rollers that are up to 15 inches work well for areas like your feet and hands and are the perfect size to carry with you to the gym.
Diameter – The diameter of most rollers is somewhere around 5 to 6 inches which is a comfortable size for most adults. However, you might want to choose a lower thickness if you’re a shorter person or if you want a more targeted massage from your roller.
While all rollers are made out of foam, they don’t all feel the same, and that’s not just up to the texture.
Not all foam is the same.
Some types of foam are denser than others, and that leads to a foam roller that feels harder or softer. Their effectiveness, purpose, and comfort depend largely on that, as you’ll see right now:
Low-density rollers – These rollers are relatively soft, and they tend to be the best for beginners who are still getting the hang of foam rolling. You should move on to a denser one as time goes one though since these rollers can’t provide the relief that denser ones can and they’re less durable. Most of them are colored white.
Medium density rollers – You’ll find these rollers in a wide variety of colors, but the most common one is blue. They’re made out of foam that’s around the middle on the density scale, and they present a good choice if you’re moving up from the beginner rollers or you need a bit more pressure but not as much as the harder rollers offer.
High-density rollers – Most of these rollers will be black, and they’re made for the people who need to put as much pressure on their bodies as possible during foam rolling. If you’re the type who likes a rough massage, these are the right rollers for you.
While rollers seem rather simple on the surface, they can have a surprising amount of additional functions to offer.
Some rollers contain a vibrating function, for example, making them quite similar to electrical massagers.
Others have a heating function, allowing you to feel a bit more comfortable and to get your blood flowing easier by heating up your body.
There are even those with multiple segments, made, so each segment moves separately while you’re using it, giving you a unique experience.
You need to explore all the options in order to find the right one for you.
The Best Foam Rollers in 2021: Top 5 Recommendations
1. AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller – The Best Smooth Foam Roller
Here’s a basic but highly functional roller that’s well-suited for anyone who wants some tough massage. It’s made out of high-density foam, so it’s quite hard and able to withstand a lot of pressure.
It comes at a highly affordable price so anyone can buy it, even if you’re short on cash.
While it is mostly a smooth roller, it has some slight bumps on the surface that improve the feeling without being too intrusive.
The size is ideal for taking it to the gym with you, and it won’t weigh you down while you’re on your way.
Things I Liked
- The price is highly affordable for anyone
- It’s quite large with a 6-inch diameter and a length of 18 inches
- Made out of dense foam that’s quite hard
- Has some barely noticeable bumps on the surface that feel nice
- Comes in a wide variety of colors
- Lightweight and easy to carry around with you
Things I Didn’t Like
- Not as durable since it’s not well glued together
- Doesn’t come with any sort of warranty
Verdict: The AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller manages to marry affordability with functionality and looks good while doing it. It does have some slight problems with durability but the cost more than makes up for it and it’s great while it works.
2. TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller – The Best Foam Roller Overall
If you’re looking for a stylish and highly functional foam roller that you can take to the gym with you, this is the one for you!
It’s incredibly durable – and quite hard – while also being light due to a plastic base with a hollow core. The size is ideal since you can use it on most body parts, but it can still fit into your gym bag.
The outside has multiple ridges and bumps of different sizes that you can use on different parts of your body to massage yourself just the way you like.
You can get it in multiple colors, and if you don’t like your order you have a 1-year warranty covering your purchase, so it’s almost risk-free!
Things I Liked
- Highly durable and made from good-quality foam and plastic
- Made with a hollow core to be lightweight and easy to roll
- Large enough to be used on most body parts
- Small enough to carry to the gym with you
- Has a multi-functional outside texture
- Can be ordered in many different colors
- Comes with a 1-year warranty
Things I Didn’t Like
- The price is higher than for most rollers
- Can be too hard for some
Verdict: Overall, the TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller is definitely one of the best products on the market. Even though the price is high, it’s more than worth it in my opinion.
3. Prosource Fit High Density Extra Firm Foam Roller – The Best Budget Foam Roller
This foam roller proves that you can get a good, functional foam roller even if you’re on a bit of a tighter budget.
It’s made out of high-density foam, and it’s just as hard as it should be with more than enough thickness to support a full-grown person.
You can get it in three different sizes, each suited for a different purpose – 12, 18 or 36 inches are the choices. No matter the size it’s relatively lightweight and you can easily carry the smaller sizes to the gym with you.
It will last for a while, and it doesn’t come with any weird smells as most cheap foam rollers do – it performs and performs well.
Things I Liked
- One of the most affordable prices on the market
- The foam is dense and hard just the way it should be
- Comes in three different sizes – 12, 18 and 36 inches in length with a 6-inch diameter
- It’s lightweight and not to difficult to carry
- Doesn’t have any nasty chemical smells like other cheap rollers
Things I Didn’t Like
- The outside can be quite slippery since it’s completely smooth
- You only have one color option – black
- Starts noticeably sagging in the middle after a few months of use
Verdict: While the Prosource Fit High Density Extra Firm Foam Roller certainly is the most affordable foam roller it’s also better than a lot of its direct competitors. There are some issues with it, and it’s not the most durable one around, but you’ll get your money’s worth for sure.
4. LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller – The Best Long Foam Roller
This 36-inch beauty is a great foam roller for the price and certainly the best long foam roller that you can find right now.
It’s made out of durable, high-quality materials and it’s as dense and as hard as you might expect. While it is a smooth roller, it does have small bumps on the surface, so it isn’t slippery even when used on tiles.
Despite the size, it’s rather light, and you won’t have trouble moving it around.
The price is just a steal for quality like this, especially when you consider the size of it.
Things I Liked
- Made out of high-quality materials and fairly durable
- The foam is high density and more than hard enough
- It’s lightweight for its size and easy to use
- There are small bumps on the surface that stop it from being slippery
- Comes at a highly affordable price point
- 6-inches thick and able to support an adult with ease
- Has a 1-year warranty
Things I Didn’t Like
- Doesn’t come with other color options
- Smells weird for a long while
- The company might spam you with ads after you get it
Verdict: I have to say that the LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller has one of the best price-to-quality propositions out there right now, though it does have its problems – especially the weird smell that won’t go away.
5. NextRoller 3-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller – The Best Vibrating Foam Roller
Here’s something different – a roller with a vibrating function!
It is easy to adjust and comes with 3 different speeds that you can switch through to get just the type of vibration you want!
The vibration is powered by a rechargeable battery that can work for up to two hours before running out and it charges back up rather quickly so you can use it at the gym without worrying about it.
Its surface is grooved, and the material is quite hard so you can get an intense experience out of combined with the vibration. It’s a perfect marriage between a roller and a massager.
Things I Liked
- Made out of hard, durable materials and tough to break
- The charge lasts for up to two hours of use
- You can adjust the speed of the vibration to your liking
- The perfect size to carry with you to the gym – 13 by 6 inches
- The surface has a bunch of different grooves and bumps
- It is able to support a lot of weight without falling apart
- Charging it is easy and it can charge quite fast
Things I Didn’t Like
- It’s heavier than most other rollers on the market
- The higher speed setting can be quite loud
- The price is extremely high
Verdict: the NextRoller 3-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller adds functionality and value through vibration function. This is definitely a roller worth considering if you’re looking for a serious equipment.
Foam Roller FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
I’ve already told you a lot about foam rollers – what they are, how they work, what they can be used for and so on.
However, you probably still have a few questions left, and I’ll try to answer them right here!
Can foam rolling be dangerous?
If you do it properly, no, it isn’t. As with everything, it can be dangerous if you don’t use the proper technique or you overdo it. Always make sure to check out how to properly use your roller to avoid any injuries.
Should I feel pain when I’m using a foam roller?
Yes, that’s part of the process, but you shouldn’t feel too much pain. The ‘feel good’ pain from a foam roller is different from something like a sharp, tearing pain, for example.
How much pain is too much pain?
If you’re feeling slight, ‘feel good’ pain while foam rolling, that’s okay, and it’s just part of the process. However, if you’re feeling extremely intense, sharp pain, burning pain or you’re feeling pain for a long time after using the roller, you should probably stop and check if you’re doing something wrong.
How often should I use a foam roller?
Using it before and after a workout is usually the best way to go about it. You can use it more often than that but that might be overdoing it – but you know what your limits are better than I do.
How do I clean my foam roller?
For the most part, wiping your foam roller with a damp cloth after using it is more than enough to keep it clean. You should also make sure that you’re using it on clean surfaces to avoid dirt and dust sticking to it.
Can a foam roller help with my cellulite?
It can help a bit, but only in the short term. Foam rolling can break up and loosen your muscles allowing your fat to lie flatter, which will make it look like you don’t have cellulite. But, ultimately, cellulite is a genetic condition, and if you’re predisposed to it, you’ll have it no matter what.
Which areas should I avoid when rolling?
Not a lot of them, but you should avoid your neck, your head, your genitals and possibly your hands. You should also avoid any area where you have stitching, or you’ve recently had surgery on or any area that’s swollen or in extreme pain. You should also avoid rolling areas with rashes, cysts or anything similar on them.
Can anyone use a foam roller?
If you’re physically able to use it, then yes, you can. Even people in a wheelchair can use one. Your children can also use them, but make sure they get a soft one to start with.
The Final Verdict
All of the products here are good but there can be only one that’s the best, and I’m sure you want to know which one it is.
While the former is certainly the best roller around in most aspects, the latter offers something that not a lot of rollers do, and that’s a vibrating function.
The most important thing is – they will help provide relief for your sore muscles. You just need to choose which one you like better and which functions you need.
So, now that you know everything you should go and find the best foam roller for your sore muscles.