Buyer's Guides Foam Rollers Training Gear

Best Foam Rollers in 2020 – Top Models and Full Buyer’s Guide

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exercise rollers

Foam rollers are an emerging trend that helps people and athletes recover faster and take better care of their muscles, joints, and ligaments. Most rollers out there share a lot of similarities, although some are vastly different from the rest, which can make shopping a bit confusing. This is why in this guide we will go over the best foam rollers on the market for this year. We will also discuss their features, compare their strong sides, and later on, we will dive even deeper into the whole process of choosing the right foam roller for you.

Best Overall – RumbleRoller Textured Foam Roller


Our Rating: (5/5)

The RumbleRoller is one of the most common and famous foam rollers out there. Its popularity stems from the premium materials used in it as well as the unique design of its massaging surface. It comes in three convenient sizes and two softness settings, making it ideal for a larger audience.

The materials on this foam roller are one of the main reasons it costs more than other similar models. Everything here is free of phthalates and other chemicals. The roller is also latex-free, non-absorbent, and fully waterproof. The contoured surface allows for both deep tissue work and point-of-pain therapy. When it comes to softness, there is the Original density (blue) RumbleRoller and the Extra firm (black) RubleRoller. For beginners, I recommend the blue one as it is still harder than most other “hard” models out there and will still take some time to get used to.

In terms of variety, there is plenty. First off, the roller comes in three available sizes – Compact, Mid-size, and full size. the compact is 12 inches long, the mid-sized one is 22 inches and the longest full-sized version is 31 inches. Of course, the different lengths are good for different purposes with the smallest being great for a carry-on roller, while the largest is great for large muscle groups like quads, back muscles, and others. The rollers also come in two color options – black and dark blue based on the softness of the material. As a whole, this might be a bit pricier than normal rollers but is well-worth your money and consideration. I personally recommend the mid-sized roller as it is fairly practical but works great for both small and larger muscles.

Pros

  • Premium materials
  • Has two softness options
  • Three size options
  • Excellent for large muscle groups
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Good for beginners

Cons

  • A bit more expensive than other foam rollers
  • Even the soft version is a bit on the firm side

Best Vibrating – Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Hyperice Vyper 2.0 vibrating fitness roller is without a doubt one of the most advanced products in this niche and it comes with a matching price tag. While it does seem like a one-trick pony at first, there is a lot going on underneath the foam and this particular model works very well even as a standalone foam roller, not to mention it packs a potent vibration motor that can further relax your muscles and ligaments. Vibration is shown to improve circulation in the muscle, its flexibility, and also relief conditions such as muscle soreness. It works in a very similar way to modern-day massage guns but has a more general effect, especially when its spread out by the large roller.

The vibration motor here lies in the core of the roller and has three vibration settings that are suited for warm-ups and recovery massages. The roller is also quite compact measuring around 12 inches in length, and 5 inches in width. It weighs around 3 lbs further adding to its compact and easy-to-carry nature. The exterior foam wraps around the solid core and has two recovery zones – a smooth one and a grooved one, even though the grooved zone doesn’t feel nearly as good as some properly grooved rollers like the RumbleRoller. It is also much softer than the RumbleRoller making it better-suited for beginners and runners that want to increase their range of motion or just want to wind down after a long run.

On a single charge, the roller can use its vibration motor for more than 2 hours on its lowest setting, although it drains the battery much quicker if you use it on its highest setting. The highest setting is meant for self-myofascial release treatment which doesn’t require a lot of time, either way, so you can count on the battery to last you a few workouts. The low battery life on the highest vibration setting is one of the major downsides. The other one is the noise it can sometimes make in the same vibration setting. There have also been quality concerns among customers with the roller’s vibration malfunctioning after just a few months of use. All that comes at a price that is higher than any other roller out there which makes things a bit tricky. If you are new to rollers, I’d suggest to skip this one and save a lot of money by buying a normal contoured roller.

Pros

  • Excellent for runners
  • Revolutionary vibration setting
  • Quite soft
  • Powerful motor
  • Eco-friendly EPP foam
  • Easy to carry around

Cons

  • Can be noisy
  • Long-term durability is questionable
  • Very expensive
  • Battery doesn’t last a lot on the highest vibration setting

Best for Runners – TriggerPoint CORE Multi-Density Solid Foam Roller


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

TriggerPoint is a brand that has pioneered the foam roller industry for quite some time now and their products are among the best budget ones out there. Their CORE foam roller is competitively priced, comes in 3 size options, and is excellent for runners thanks to its grid pattern and moderate compression. That same grid pattern also makes the roller good for pain relief, improved flexibility, and myofascial massages. Unlike flat rollers, this one can get into the deeper layers of your tissues and muscles, allowing for better blood and lymph circulation and better overall performance.

There are three parts of the grid that mimic different parts of the hands that would massage you in a professional studio. There is a high and firm part that mimics fingertips, a tubular part which mimics the fingers themselves, and a flat part which resembles the palm of a therapist. The longest version of the Core roller allows for the best rotation between these parts.

The materials here are also top-notch. Everything is made out of EVA and EPP with a solid and tough core surrounded by a much softer layer of EPP foam. That two-layer construction is quite resistant to the elements including water and sun, and there shouldn’t be any concerns about the long-term durability of the roller.

Lastly, as I mentioned, the roller comes in three different sizes – 12, 18, and 36 inches. The 12 inch one is, by far, my favorite as it is extremely portable and it is also 4 inches in diameter, while the other two are 5.5 inches wide.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Solid build quality
  • Moderate compression
  • Has three parts in its grid patterns
  • Comes in three sizes
  • Lightweight & portable

Cons

  • Can sometimes have a chemical odor
  • Can be too hard for some beginners
  • The diameter of the 12 inch version is quite small

Best Half Roller – ProsourceFit High Density Half-Round Foam Roller


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Half rollers have their set of advantages and disadvantages over the traditional full-circle foam rollers. For once, they are much more static and don’t allow for a lot of movements. While this isn’t ideal for people that want a dynamic stretch or a massage that rolls through their muscle groups, it is ideal for people that have mobility issues or just don’t have the space to do all the stretching. They are also quite stable and can be used on most surfaces. Flat (or half) rollers are also ideal for people with neck and waist issues.

The ProsourceFit high-density half-round foam roller is a part of their line up of differently shaped and sized rollers. This is one of their least expensive models and it comes in three sizes – 12 inches, 18 inches, and 36 inches.

The roller is made out of high-density EPP (expanded polypropylene) making it durable and resistant to water, sweat, and heat. It is also fairly easy to clean and maintain. The 12 inch version is also extremely practical as you can bring it along most of your workouts. Lastly, one of the best features about this foam roller is that it is priced extremely well and is, in fact, the cheapest option from this list.

Pros

  • Extremely cheap
  • Excellent for physiotherapy
  • The smaller sizes are easy to carry
  • Comes in three size options
  • Good for people with neck and waist injuries
  • Easy to maintain

Cons

  • Not very durable in the long run
  • Can be too static for some people
  • Not very soft

Best GRID Roller – 321 STRONG Foam Roller


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

There are a lot of grid foam rollers out there but not all of them are as practical and affordable as the 321 Strong Foam roller. While it is a bit on the firm side of things, it does have a grid pattern that helps with a lot of conditions, mainly muscle soreness.

In terms of its dimensions, it measures 12.75 inches in length and has a 5.25-inch diameter. It also weighs just under 1 lbs. All that makes it very easy to carry around in your fitness bag and even easier to use on some smaller muscle groups. Unfortunately, there aren’t bigger sizes, meaning you won’t be able to work on your whole back or other large muscle groups at the same time. The grid pattern has three different surfaces allowing the roller to be used in situations like pain-relief massaging, muscle relaxation, and deep-tissue massages.

Style-wise, there are 15 different color combinations you can choose from, including some very interesting ones such as Alien, Sunrise, Aurora, and more. As a whole, for a grid foam roller, the 321 Strong roller comes at a bargain price. That, combined with the free ebook you are getting makes it one of the best deals out there currently.

Pros

  • Well-priced
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Grid pattern
  • Easy to carry around
  • Easy to use
  • Comes with a free eBook

Cons

  • Quite hard
  • Not ideal for beginners
  • Doesn’t come in more than 1 size

For Back Massage – Acumobility Foam Roller


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

With most foam roller brands out there going with the traditional approach, some take a risk and try to revolutionize the industry with a unique and highly-functional design. The Acumobility Ultimate back roller is one of those products and even though it is a little expensive, it is one of the best rollers out there for your back and for people with back issues in general.

The roller targets the back muscles via two main mechanisms. First, it has a really wide diameter which allows you to comfortably lay on it and not move too much in order to get the message going. Second, it has a deeply contoured surface that gets deep into your back muscles and fascias. It is slightly longer than 11 inches making it quite narrow meaning most people will have to massage both parts at different times. In the future, there might be a longer model but for now, this is its main disadvantage.

The roller is definitely on the firm side which isn’t ideal for beginners but some people love having a firmer roller for their back muscles. It is ideal for upper back rolling, shoulder rolls, hip rolls, and glute rolling. The roller is actually quite durable both in the long run and in terms of its weight capacity. It can support 1000lbs of weight on top of it which is a statement for its rigidity. The foam on top is EVA making it easy to clean and maintain.

Pros

  • Unique design
  • Contoured surface
  • Can support a lot of weight
  • Excellent for back rolls
  • Designed by chiropractors

Cons

  • Quite short with no optio nfor a longer model
  • Quite firm (can be a good thing)
  • A bit expensive

Best Budget Foam Roller – The Original Body Roller


Our Rating: (4/5)

While most foam rollers focus on different aspects such as practicality, comfort, material quality, long-term durability and massaging features, others focus on one prime thing – affordability. the Original Body Roller is one of the older models on the market and is well-established for a single good reason – it is cheap!

Prices aside, this roller is also functional and surprisingly practical. It measures 13 x 5.5 inches making it short enough to be portable and to fit in your bag and has a good diameter that will allow for better rolling. It is also very lightweight, weighing less than 2.5 lbs. It is a moderately firm roller making it ideal for runners, cyclists, or anyone else that wants to move a step higher than the entry-level soft rollers. It also has a grid layout with three different zones, mimicking the massager’s fingers, fingertips, and palms.

The heavy-duty EPP construction is easy to maintain although it does absorb certain scents and is prone to discoloring depending on how you treat it. It won’t get brittle, though, and it will last quite a while before it starts tearing. One thing I wouldn’t recommend with this roller is using it on rough surfaces such as asphalt or rough concrete. There are 6 color options but no size options, unfortunately. It is ideal for leg and arm rolls and is ultimately one of the good all-rounders that comes at a bargain price.

Pros

  • Bargain price
  • Good for runners
  • Grid pattern
  • Well-sized
  • Easy to carry around

Cons

  • No size options
  • A bit harder to maintain

Foam Rollers Buyer’s Guide

As you might’ve already noticed, foam rollers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, contours, and more. They are a large and diverse group of accessories that all serve a similar purpose – to relax your muscles and tendons and help your body properly recover from physical stress or long periods of inactivity.

Before we get into their specific features in order to help you choose the right one for your needs, let’s discuss the different types of rollers out there…

Types of Foam Rollers

There are a lot of ways foam rollers are classified by and divided. Most of the time, though, you will see people talking about full-circle and half foam rollers that get their names from their shapes. The benefits of half foam rollers don’t always outweigh the drawbacks, as static rollers tend to be harder to use and don’t allow for a lot of movement. On the other hand, that makes them good for people with mobility issues and also keeps them well-grounded while you put pressure onto different muscles.

Full rollers can be further divided into Grid rollers or Flat/plain rollers. Grid foam rollers have a contoured surface that gets deeper into your muscles when pressed upon them and most fitness experts claim that they are more effective at relieving sore or extremely fatigued muscle groups. Most of the grooves on the grid rollers can even be divided into sections which have different effects on your body.

If you want to learn how to properly warm up even without a foam roller, click here!

How to Choose a Foam Roller

Learning which features to pay attention to isn’t very hard, especially with foam rollers as they only have a few key factors that can make a difference in their performance and quality. Those are:

  • Size
  • Shape
  • Hard or Soft
  • Materials used
  • Durability
  • Price

Size

In terms of the size of the roller, there are two key things you need to pay attention to. One of those is the length of the roller and the other is its diameter. Typically, most rollers come in three lengths – small, mid-sized, and large. Smaller rollers are around 10-14 inches are meant to be practical and easy to carry around so that you can work on your legs, arms, or shoulders before or after your workout. They aren’t an ideal solution for your back, though. For that purpose, you have mid-sized and large rollers which are between 18 and 40 inches long.

Apart from length, look at the diameter of the roller. Rollers with a diameter below 5 inches will be lighter but also harder to use since you will roll pretty close to the ground and the roller will move around quite fast.

Shape

exercise rolling

Shape-wise there are two options – half rollers and full-circle ones. I’ve already gone into detail about the pros and cons of each type but to sum it up I can say the following – half-rollers aren’t really rollers and they are meant more for static stretching and people with mobility issues. Foam rollers, on the other hand, allow for a better range of motion and more dynamic warm-ups or cooldowns.

Hard or Soft

This is a question of great debate among the fitness communities but it seems to ultimately boil down to personal preference. While there is a certain amount of science behind soft or hard foam rollers, different people seem to experience different effects from both. Certain groups of people, however, like cyclists and runners benefit from moderately hard rollers, especially after a heavy and long workout.

If you are a beginner and have never used a foam roller, I suggest sticking with a softer model.

Materials used

The most common material used in foam rollers is EPP (expanded polypropylene) along with PU foam, and some others like EVA and EPA. All these are various plastic polymers, some softer others not so much. While a traditional foam roller has a solid core and a softer outer layer, there are more and more interesting designs that feature hollow cores and other various mixes of the mentioned materials. Polyurethane and polypropylene are good materials of choice since they are cheap and easy to maintain clean.

Durability

The durability of your foam roller is crucial to how good the investment is going to be. This is especially valid for long-term durability. While foam rollers, in general, are quite tough and durable, there are some that can get brittle with time. Others that have vibration motors inside them can also have breakdowns or battery issues.

Price

Last but not least, look for a foam roller that is well-priced. While vibration and some grid rollers can be awfully expensive, most good rollers are in the 20-50 dollar range, making them very affordable for beginners.

Benefits of using Foam Rollers

Since foam rollers are used to exercise self-myofascial release techniques, they can help various conditions such as:

  • Muscle tightness
  • Soreness of various muscle groups
  • Inflammation throughout the body’s musculoskeletal system
  • Foam rolling also increases one’s effective range of motion and joint health
  • It helps your body warm-up
  • Foam rollers are also extremely effective at cooling you down after a workout and letting your body settle in
  • They are a great relief for people that sit on a desk for long periods at a time

Apart from all that, foam rollers are also one of the cheapest ways to keep your body healthy and keep the blood and lymph streams moving, reducing the risk of vascular diseases and other inflammatory processes in your body.

If you are a runner and are wondering how often should you run, make sure you check out my article on that topic by clicking here!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best size for a foam roller?

While foam rollers with different lengths serve different purposes, there are universal one-fit-all sizes that are great for all parts of your body. A foam roller long around 35-40 inches is going to be versatile and good enough for most of your needs. For beginners, I recommend this size!

Do foam rollers actually work?

While there are multiple studies showing that a 20 and 60-second rollings provide the same results, there is no doubt that there are certain benefits that your joints, muscles, and ligaments get from using foam rollers before, during, or after workouts.

Should you foam roll every day?

Foam rollers prevent injury in the best way they can when they are used regularly. This can mean using them every day but that will prove useful only if you train often. Furthermore, if you have a desk job, you can also benefit from using foam rollers on a daily basis.

Is it better to use contoured foam rollers rather than flat ones?

While flat foam rollers are great for large muscle groups, textured rollers will give you the benefits of the feeling of a real massage being performed. Short, contoured rollers are great at targetted massages for isolated muscles.

Final Words

As simple as most rollers are, there are still a lot of features that truly separate the best foam rollers from the rest. When you are buying your first roller, make sure you have the size, shape, and materials in mind, as those features will greatly affect the performance of the said roller. Even if you aren’t sure, getting any roller is better than not having one at all, especially if you’re living a more sedentary lifestyle!