Foam rollers have gained a lot of traction in recent years as a key recovery tool. Whether we’re working at the desk, lifting weights, or skiing moguls, our muscles get worked and foam rollers target tight areas and trigger points to help get us back to our baseline.
Like upgrading to an electric toothbrush or gas grill, foam rollers are simple, easy to use, and highly effective. And though rolling out can be less than enjoyable, we feel relief and greater mobility afterward.
For outdoor enthusiasts and athletes, foam rollers are an accessible self-care tool. Though there are many options on the market, the best foam roller will be the one that feels best to you.
To learn the differences between designs, be sure to check out the buyer’s guide and FAQ section at the end of this article. We’ve even put together a comparison chart to see how the foam rollers stack up against one another.
Below are our picks for the best foam rollers of 2023.
The Best Foam Rollers of 2023
- Best Overall Foam Roller: Roll Recovery R4
- Best Budget Foam Roller: AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller
- Best Vibrating Foam Roller: Hyperice Vyper 3.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller
- Best Portable Foam Roller: Brazyn Morph Collapsible Foam Roller
- Best Massage Wheel: Chirp Wheel+
- Best Massage Ball: Rawlogy Cork Massage Ball
- Best Long Foam Roller: OPTP Pro-Roller Soft
Roll Recovery R4
- Materials High-density EVA foam
- Texture Rounded bumps
- Dimensions 18 in. x 6 in.
- Weight 2 lbs., 9.6 oz.
- Anatomically contoured face
- A large diameter gives better leverage to apply pressure
- Quality high-density foam is durable
- Very firm
AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller
- Materials Polypropylene foam
- Texture Smooth
- Dimensions 18 in. x 6 in.; 24 in. X 6 in; 36 in x 6 in
- Weight 4.3 oz.
- Simple, firm construction
- Different designs and sizes available
- Not very durable
- Slightly raised seams can be irritating
Hyperice Vyper 3.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller
- Materials Polypropylene foam
- Texture Contoured
- Dimensions 13 in. x 5.4 in.
- Weight 2 lbs., 11 oz.
- Vibration technology increases therapeutic potential
- Improves range of motion
- Durable design
- Short battery life
Brazyn Morph Collapsible Foam Roller
- Materials Bamboo, aluminum, foam
- Texture Raised nubs
- Dimensions 15.5 in. x 6.5 in. (2 in. wide when flattened)
- Weight 1 lb., 9.6 oz.
- 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
- Materials EVA foam, ABS plastic
- Texture Dimpled and contoured
- Dimensions 4 in. x 5 in.; 6 in. x 5 in.; 10 in. x 5 in.; 12 in. x 5 in.
- Weight Varies
- Unique design targets muscles between shoulder blades
- Three sizes offer a range of pressure
- Less versatile
Rawlogy Cork Massage Ball
- Material 100% sustainable cork
- Texture Smooth
- Dimensions 1.9 in., 2.5 in.
- Weight 0.7 oz., 1.4 oz.
- Light and packable
- Great for targeting small muscles
- Sustainable materials
- Less effective for targeting big muscle groups
OPTP Pro-Roller Soft
- Soft foam is ideal for newcomers to foam rolling
- Available in various size options
- Won’t be the best for deep tissue work
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
- Hyper-focused therapy techniques
- Light and durable
- Trusted brand
- Length of roller is too short for some
- Some may find the diameter to small to get leverage
RumbleRoller Original Textured Foam Roller
- Great soft tissue massage
- Perfect tool for warming up
- Doesn’t apply pressure evenly
TriggerPoint Rush Roller
- Textured surface for pinpoint treatment
- More expensive than similar options
- Can cause discomfort during use, may not be ideal for users who are new to foam rolling
ProsourceFit High-Density Foam Rollers
- Materials Expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam
- Texture Smooth
- Dimensions 12 in. x 3 in.; 18 in. x 3 in.; 36 in. x 3 in.
- Weight 3.1 oz., 3.9 oz., 6.7 oz. (depending on dimensions)
- Simple, functional design
- Full and half-round options
- Not the most durable
- Too firm for some folks
Foam Roller Comparison Chart
|Roll Recovery R4||High-density EVA foam||Rounded bumps||18 in. x 6 in.||2 lbs., 9.6 oz.|
|AmazonBasics High-Density |
Round Foam Roller
|Polypropylene foam||Smooth||18 in. x 6 in; 24 in. X 6 in; 36 in x 6 in||4.3 oz.|
|Hyperice Vyper 3.0||Polypropylene foam||Contoured||13 in. x 5.4 in.||2 lbs., 11 oz.|
|Brazyn Morph Collapsible |
|Bamboo, aluminum, foam||Raised nubs||15.5 in. x 6.5 in. (2 in. wide when flattened)||1 lb., 9.6 oz.|
|Chirp Wheel+||EVA foam, ABS plastic||Dimpled and contoured||4 in. x 5 in.; 6 in. x 5 in.; 10 in. x 5 in.; 12 in. x 5 in.||Varies|
|Rawlogy Cork |
|100% sustainable cork||Smooth||1.9 in., 2.5 in.||0.7 oz., 1.4 oz.|
|OPTP Pro-Roller Soft||EVA foam||Smooth||36 in. x 4 in.||Varies|
|EVA foam||Gridded||13 in. x 5.5 in.||1 lb., 8 oz.|
|RumbleRoller Original |
Textured Foam Roller
|EVA foam||High-profile bumps||13 in. x 5 in.||14 oz.|
|TriggerPoint Rush Roller||EVA foam||Raised ridges||13 in. x 5.5 in.||1 lb., 15 oz.|
|ProsourceFit High-Density |
|Expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam||Smooth||12 in. x 3 in.; 18 in. x 3 in.; 36 in. x 3 in.||3.1 oz., 3.9 oz., 6.7 oz.|
Why You Should Trust Us
Our GearJunkie team of gear testers includes hikers, runners, climbers, skiers, and outdoor adventurers, and we constantly put our bodies to the test. We are weekend warriors that walk dozens of miles in the mountains with overnight packs on our days off. We’re also professional guides that rely on our physical abilities to pay the bills.
As outdoor recreationists, we know firsthand the importance of good recovery. After a big objective in the mountains, rolling out and stretching sore muscles is key to getting outside again as soon as possible. It’s also key to enjoying everyday life with better mobility, flexibility, injury prevention, and stress relief.
While testing for the best foam rollers, we considered and used a wide variety of shapes, materials, densities, and sizes for a range of applications and targeting various body areas. In addition to our objective tests and personal experience, we also considered the most innovative, popular, novel, and legacy products available today. These foam rollers serve a range of athletes, muscle groups, storage needs, and price points.
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 like the OPTP Pro-Roller Soft are designed to prioritize comfort over deep tissue massage. Less-firm rollers are suitable for those with sensitive muscles or who 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 like the Roll Recovery R4 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 inches 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 inches 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.
If your persistent knots are in hard-to-reach areas, specifically shaped rollers like the Chirp Wheel+ can target muscles that a regular foam roller of any length might miss.
The diameter measures how thick the foam roller is or the circumference. Foam rollers with larger diameters can be easier to apply more pressure because you can get more leverage on them.
The most popular diameter seems to be around five inches. We would not recommend buying anything less for a general-use foam roller because it can be hard to press down on it. Typically foam rollers with smaller diameters are specially made for calves, soleus, or Achilles.
The Roll Recovery R4 was one of the largest diameters we tested at 6 inches, making it easy to apply a lot of weight.
Your foam roller’s portability is a worthy consideration depending on your lifestyle and level of muscle soreness. If you only plan on using a 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, like the Rawlogy Cork Massage Ball. Still, even if not designed for portability, many shorter rollers can easily fit in a standard gym bag.
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, but may be limited in reaching deep muscles or tendons.
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 Roll Recovery R4 above — will often have multiple features on one roller to promote customization. They are specifically designed to specifically target muscle groups for the best massage. mimic a massage therapist’s hands and are a good way to isolate knots or problem areas.
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.
There are even foam rollers that vibrate, such as the Hyperice Vyper 3.0. These foam rollers plugin to charge and will offer a vibrating rolling experience to help increase the range of motion above non-vibrating foam rollers.
Finally, there are virtually limitless colors and patterns available. Naturally, this is a fun — albeit functionally inconsequential — feature to consider when purchasing your first foam roller.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 and bruising, and potentially do more harm than good. Listening to what your body needs is critical when foam rolling.
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 then 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 to 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.
Yes. When used properly, foam rollers may help soothe and treat IT band tightness. Many athletes have successfully addressed IT band tightness with regular foam rolling.
From a side plank position, place your bottom thigh on the roller. Using your forearm to support your torso, move your arm so the roller rolls from the side of your hip to the side of your knee and back again. Some discomfort is normal, but stop and rest if you feel excessive pain.
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