No matter how you enjoy the outdoors, you are putting significant stress on your body. Going to trainers, physical therapists, or massage therapists daily isn’t a feasible option, and that’s why you need the best foam roller.
Foam rollers have gained a lot of traction in recent years as recovery tools that target sore muscles and trigger points easily. Foam rollers are undeniably easy to use and highly effective, not to mention being an accessible self-care tool. There are many options on the market, and ultimately the best foam roller will be the one that feels best to you.
6 Best Foam Rollers of 2021
Best Overall: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
The TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller ($34) boasts a unique design meant for ultimate customization when targeting problem areas all over your body. Despite being hollow, this rigid roller is built to last. The exterior is covered in EVA foam with a multidensity design, so users can utilize different hardness levels where they see fit.
High and firm ridges on the edges are designed to feel like fingertips. The flat and low sections are more akin to palm-level massage, so it’s easy to switch back and forth, depending on the muscle groups and level of tightness.
This TriggerPoint roller is an impressive tool in and of itself. And it has the bonus of an accompanying one-year warranty if you are not satisfied with the product. Further, this roller’s purchase comes with access to an instructional video library that will help you perfect your therapeutic and myofascial release techniques.
- Hyperfocused therapy techniques
- Light and durable
- Trusted brand
- Length of roller too short for some
Best Budget: AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller ($15)
It should come as no surprise that the Amazon empire has found its way into the training and muscle recovery business. And they have created one of the most affordable and best foam rollers for back issues on the market.
These high-density foam rollers from AmazonBasics are made from polyethylene to maintain firmness while in use. They are strong enough to support everybody yet light enough to be a welcome addition to any gym bag.
Like other rollers, the high-density round foam roller from AmazonBasics ($15) works wonders in promoting blood flow and providing focused therapy to pinpointed areas of your body. The soft tissue therapy provided by proper use of the AmazonBasics roller can work wonders in improving flexibility, loosening tight muscles, and improving range of motion.
With a handful of different sizes and designs to choose from, this affordable option from AmazonBasics is an excellent introductory roller for those curious about their benefits.
- Simple, firm construction
- Different designs and sizes available
- Not very durable
- Slightly raised seams can be irritating
Best Vibrating Foam Roller: Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller
The Hyperice Vyper 2.0 is the best vibrating foam roller. And many users would agree that it works wonders for muscle tightness, soreness, and recovery. Whereas most standard foam rollers boast an 18% increase in range of motion, the Hyperice Vyper 2.0 ($159) can achieve up to 40% in the same category. This roller can do everything that a standard foam roller can, with the addition of vibration technology.
Of course, it is the bonus of vibration that customers are paying for with the Hyperice Vyper. With three vibration settings, users can fully customize the therapy they are receiving. More than just a roller, the Hyperice vibration settings add another level of massage that will be a godsend for the sorest muscles.
Additionally, the compact design with rechargeable batteries makes it easy to bring along anywhere. It is definitely an investment, and we wish the battery life was better. But, if you want to take your foam rolling to the next level, this is it.
- Vibration technology increases therapeutic potential
- Improves range of motion
- Durable design
- Short battery life
Most Portable: Brazyn Morph Collapsible Foam Roller
If you are looking for the best foam roller for back issues and are constantly on the move, consider the Morph Collapsible Foam Roller by Brazyn ($69). Without question, the Morph Collapsible foam roller is the most portable roller on the market.
When collapsed, this roller is smaller than two folded shirts. When expanded, it meets all industry-standard size recommendations. Users can easily fold up the roller to stuff into a backpack or suitcase. By simply pulling on the attached strings, it is quickly ready to use.
The foam is firm and dense enough to work out any muscle tightness or soreness issues, allowing for thorough loosening before workouts and proper recovery afterward. As a bonus, the Morph Collapsible Foam Roller from Brazyn is made from bamboo and recycled aluminum, making it the most environmentally friendly roller on the market.
- Most portable roller on the market
- Hits all targeted muscle groups
- Eco-friendly design
- Can collapse during use
- Ridge design isn’t comfortable for everyone
- More expensive than standard rollers
Best 2-in-1: MOBOT Official Foam Roller Water Bottle
The MOBOT Official Foam Roller Water Bottle ($60) is a unique item on our best foam roller list, as it doubles as both a foam roller and water bottle. This roller falls into the same category as the Morph outlined above. The MOBOT water bottle is also impressively portable.
The bottle is made from strong 100% recycled stainless steel. It can hold 40 ounces of water, serving as a great reminder to stay hydrated during workouts. The overlying EVA foam is high-density and rigid, so users can deeply target any problem areas on their backs, legs, glutes, or shoulders.
While a bit shorter than other rollers, that is the compromise for having a highly portable, multiuse roller like the MOBOT Official Foam Roller Water Bottle.
- Inventive and multiuse design is great for the minimalist
- Short usable surface area
- Expensive depending on the size
Best Half Round: ProsourceFit High-Density Full- and Half-Round Foam Rollers ($8-24)
The ProsourceFit High-Density rollers ($8-24) are some of the most affordable rollers on our list and can target the same muscle groups as the highest-end models. This roller is made of high-density expanded polypropylene, making it firm enough to work through recovery on all parts of the body. The simple design is ideal for new users and traditionalists alike. And it is both easy to transport and clean after use.
ProsourceFit offers its high-density foam rollers in multiple sizes as well as in round and half-round designs. As you become more acutely aware of its proper use and what your body needs, it can be useful to have both half- and full-round rollers in your workout toolkit. And, at this price point, you won’t break the bank by expanding your arsenal of recovery instruments.
- Simple, functional design
- Full- and half-round options
- Multiple sizes available
- Not the most durable
- Too firm for some
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Foam Roller
Differences in firmness, length, texture, and portability all play into choosing a foam roller, and each variable serves its purpose.
Arguably the most important factor in choosing a foam roller is its density or firmness. Soft rollers may not provide the level of massage required for deep muscle soreness. Excessively hard rollers can cause bruising or trauma if not used correctly.
Soft rollers are designed to prioritize comfort over deep tissue massage. Less-firm rollers are suitable for those with sensitive muscles or are new to foam rolling. As you improve your technique and your muscles get used to the pressure, you can move up to harder rollers.
Firm rollers are designed for deep and intense massage and muscle therapy. If you are a very active person, a hard roller can help you target and penetrate deep into sore muscles. This style of roller is also ideal for myofascial release.
Rollers with a medium level firmness can, as you may imagine, do it all. They are suitable for both massage and yoga or Pilates exercise routines. Proper use will still allow you to access deep tissue while maintaining comfort and cushion found in less-firm rollers.
As with firmness, different lengths each serve their purpose, and it is up to you to decide what is most important for your specific muscular needs.
Long or full-size rollers generally measure around 36” in length. At this length, these rollers are suitable for larger muscle groups. Full-size rollers allow you to access your entire back when laid perpendicular to your spine. These rollers are also great for other large muscle groups like those found in your upper leg. The longer length also lends itself well to many Pilates or core exercises that require you to lay it vertically along your back.
Shorter rollers, 24” or less, are excellent for pinpointing smaller muscle groups like specific areas of your back, arms, or legs. If you have isolated problem areas around your body, a shorter roller may be a perfect choice. As a bonus, the shorter lengths are also more portable.
The texture is another noticeable difference between foam rollers. The differences can be spelled out simply between smooth and textured rollers.
Smooth rollers are traditional and have been the go-to for some time. They provide equal pressure across the targeted area. Like softer rollers, smooth rollers are a good choice for beginners, as they are not as intense as their textured counterparts. Generally speaking, smooth rollers are also often more affordable.
Textured rollers are more advanced and better suited for users comfortable with their rolling technique. The added features on these rollers, like ridges and bumps, are meant to precisely target problem areas.
Textured rollers — like the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller above — will often have multiple features on one roller to promote customization. They are specifically designed to mimic a massage therapist’s hands and are a good way to isolate knots or problem areas.
Your foam roller’s portability is a worthy consideration depending on your lifestyle and level of muscle soreness. If you only plan on using your roller occasionally or at home, perhaps you won’t have to worry about how easy it is to bring with you. If you have chronic muscle pain and travel a lot for business or pleasure, a more portable option is the way to go.
Some rollers are explicitly designed with portability in mind. Still, even if not designed for portability, many shorter rollers can easily fit in a standard gym bag.
Without a doubt, the four features outlined above are the most important things to consider when shopping for the best foam roller for back or muscle issues. That said, there are a few other considerations to take into account. For many, outdoor fitness and environmental ethics go hand in hand. If that is important to you, some companies are producing their rollers from recycled or sustainable materials.
Some foam rollers and materials are also better suited for yoga and Pilates workouts than strictly rolling. If you plan on using your roller for exercise routines, this is a good thing to keep in mind.
Will a Foam Roller Help My Back?
Back issues are not to be taken lightly. Small bothers can quickly become chronic problems with little warning. If you have considerable and consistent back pain and soreness, we recommend seeing a professional to address the issue.
That said, foam rollers can be an incredible addition to your self-care tool kit. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and foam rollers can do wonders in preventing back issues from developing or worsening. When built into your daily workout or stretching routine, foam rolling can genuinely help relieve tension, tightness, and soreness in your back.
Which Foam Roller Is Best for Me?
There is a lot to consider when purchasing a foam roller, and the best foam roller for you may not be the best for your friend. Rollers vary most notably in terms of firmness, length, and texture. You can generally mix and match the best of each category to find the ideal roller for your specific needs. Check out the Buyer’s Guide above to learn more about the differences between rollers and which may be the best for you.
Can a Foam Roller Help Sciatica?
Sciatica causes pain that can branch down from your lower back through your hips, buttocks, and legs — radiating along the sciatic nerve. While foam rollers are not a cure for sciatica, they can help manage the pain associated with this condition.
Rolling can be a quick and easy way to promote the myofascial release. Depending on your level of sciatic pain and your comfort with a roller, it can be a highly effective pain management technique. Given how affordable foam rollers are, most experts recommend that their sciatica patients keep one on hand.
What Is the Best Foam Roller for Beginners?
If you have never used a roller before and are apprehensive about the technique or pressure associated with using one, there are plenty of introductory options available. Less-firm rollers are most forgiving on your muscles, and smooth rollers distribute pressure more evenly. Both of these factors are welcome features for beginners as they ease their way into the world of targeted self-care.
Can You Foam Roll Every Day?
Not only can you foam roll every day, but some experts would also argue that it is an integral part of injury prevention and workout recovery. Some people treat foam rolling just like stretching. They strive to do it before and after every workout to relax tight muscles and to improve flexibility and range of motion.
A caveat, however, is if you start to feel or instigate pain while rolling. Over-rolling muscle groups can cause further pain, bruising, and potentially do more harm than good. Listening to what your body needs is critical when foam rolling.
How Long Should I Foam Roll?
Foam rolling can feel good — like, really good. However, you can overdo it. For the best results, try targeting an area for 30 to 90 seconds at a time, resting and stretching for 30 seconds, and repeating up to two more times. You should avoid spending any more than 5 minutes on specific muscle groups. And it is better to underwork a muscle group than overwork it.
Overworking an area can cause bruising or even worsen injuries. Remember, foam rollers are meant for prevention and healing. The last thing you want to do is misuse or overuse yours to the point of making muscle pain or tension worse.
Have a favorite foam roller we missed? Let us know in the comments below for future updates to this article.