The Best Foam Rollers

By Carlen Oliveira

February 11, 2021

In times like these, we’ve had to learn to live without a lot of non-essential things that helped to keep us mentally sane and physically active. I, for one, lived for live music and stopping to pet people’s dogs on the street — neither of which are acceptable these days. I’m sure I'm not alone when I say that I also trips to my massage therapist for granted as well. Whether it was a birthday surprise to get some R&R or more of a physical therapy session, having a trained professional work out those unforgiving knots is a luxury that can’t come back soon enough.

But until then, foam rollers can be a great alternative. Foam rollers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and textures; they also let you perform your own deep tissue massage from the comfort of your home. Just place the roller under a specific area and use your body weight to roll out your tight or sore muscles. Not everyone enjoys foam rollers; I have a love-hate relationship with mine. They can be difficult to maneuver and uncomfortable at times, but with a little practice and once you find the sweet spot, they can help to stimulate and relax your muscles, improve blood flow and even help increase your range of motion.

If you’ve ever tried to shop for a foam roller, you’ll know that there's more to them than picking out a colour and the size. We'll walk you through the best models to buy below.

1. Editor's Pick: LuxFit Foam Roller

ProsCons
  • Three-year warranty
  • Three different colours
  • Four different sizes
  • Very stiff
  • May be too big for some users

Key Specs

Length: 12”, 18”, 24”, 36”
Diameter: 6"
Surface: Smooth
Material: Polypropylene

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These inexpensive, yet high-quality foam rollers are available in four different sizes so no matter your height and weight, you can find one that will work for your body type.

The LuxFit foam roller is the perfect choice for all of your physical and massage therapy needs. This extra-firm foam roller is made from molded polypropylene and uses a smooth surface that works to repel liquids. With the ability to hold its shape over time and especially after long-term use, LuxFit also provides a three-year warranty on its products so you don't have to worry about buying another one any time soon. For pain relief and improved flexibility and range, this is a good foam roller to consider.

2. Best Dual Roller: Reehut Foam Roller

ProsCons
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Includes introductory rolling guide
  • Comes with carrying bag
  • Not available in longer sizes
  • Plastic inside may break after repetitive use

Key Specs

Length: 13"
Diameter: 5.5"
Surface: Textured and smooth
Material: EVA

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These lightweight rollers are a great investment for beginners as well as experienced rollers who enjoy both a deep-tissue and surface-level massage.

If you’re torn between choosing a smooth or a textured roller but don’t want to have to shell out the big bucks, the Reehut foam roller is here to save the day. This 2-in-1 foam roller includes a 13” textured foam roller to help relieve deep tissue muscle tension while its soft foam 13” roller is great for beginners who are just beginning to use foam rollers for post-workout activities.

3. Best Soft Roller: Yes4All Premium Medium Density Round PE Foam Roller

ProsCons
  • Anti-slip material
  • Can support up to 250 pounds
  • Wide range of colours and lengths
  • Loses shape over time
  • No instructions on how to properly roll

Key Specs

Length: 12”, 18”, 24”, 36”
Diameter: 6"
Surface: Smooth
Material: Polyethylene

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This medium-density foam roller is the perfect affordable alternative for people who are conflicted about buying a soft or firm roller.

Dense foam rollers can be great for experienced users, but sometimes, a firm roller is too intense or painful for casual or new users. This Yes4All premium foam roller finds a happy medium between soft and dense rollers to give you the relaxing massage of a soft roller without the intensity of a firm roller. These lightweight and portable rollers come in three different colours and four different lengths to help maximize blood flow while giving yourself a satisfying massage.

4. Best Firm Roller: ProsourceFit High-Density Foam Roller

ProsCons
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • May generate static
  • Loses shape over time
  • May cause pain if not used properly

Key Specs

Length: 18"
Diameter: 6"
Surface: Smooth
Material: Polyethylene (EPP)

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Best suited for athletes, this small roller is a great way to work on those tight muscle groups after a hard workout. It helps to promote faster recovery and reduce soreness.

We ask our bodies to do a lot of things for us which often leads to the overuse of our muscles. Firm rollers can help dig deep and give you an intense, concentrated way to relax your muscles, which is especially beneficial for athletes. This shorter 18” foam roller from ProsourceFit was made from high-density expanded polypropylene that’s easy to clean and makes for a great travel buddy. Although this smaller roller isn’t as stable as longer models, you can more easily target specific areas like the back, calves, hamstrings and glutes.

5. Best Textured Roller: TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller

ProsCons
  • Five colour options
  • 500-pound weight limit
  • Purchase comes with online instructional videos
  • Expensive
  • Texture may not be prominent enough for some users

Key Specs

Length: 5" -13"
Diameter: 5.5"
Surface: Textured
Material: EVA Foam

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Made to withstand up to 500 pounds, this durable and versatile foam roller is a trusted tool used by professional athletes, trainers and massage therapists alike.

The TriggerPoint GRID foam roller uses a multi-density exterior that features high, firm ridges and long tubular lines to resemble a massage therapist's fingers, while the low and flat sections are made to feel like a palm. This patented design is constructed from high-quality materials made to hold its shape after repeated use. It can also hold up to 500 pounds.

Factors to Consider Before Buying A Foam Roller

When shopping for foam rollers, there are three main factors to consider that will have an impact on what type of roller you buy — density, texture and size. A roller's density, size, shape and texture will vary depending on your experience level and how you plan to use them. Consider these points below:

Density: The density of your roller will have an impact on how deep your at home massage really is. Low density rollers are soft to sit on and are commonly used in group exercise classes, and can be useful if your body is sore after an intense workout. If you’re new to the world of foam rolling, you should start out with a soft roller until you learn proper technique and your muscles adjust to using a roller.

On the other hand, for some people, foam rollers that are too soft won’t provide enough pressure and can get deformed after repetitive use. Denser rollers are better suited for long term use and are sure to give you a deep, intense massage. But be warned, if you don’t like the uncomfortable and extreme feeling that comes from a deep-tissue massage, firm rollers might not be for you. You should also be careful when using dense foam rollers, if it's used the wrong way, it can lead to bruising and impact your mobility.

If you’re unsure which is better for you, you can always settle for a medium-density foam roller, which is great for all sorts of uses. It will also help give you a sense of what you like and don’t like about foam rollers.

Texture: Foam rollers that are textured with bumps, waves or lines are meant to emulate the hands of a masseuse and work to really dig into pressure points on your body to give you a deep massage and knead out knots.

Some rollers even have a few different types of textures on them to help you choose the right type of pressure you need for that day. These types of rollers are better suited for more experienced users who know how to properly roll out their muscles. Smooth rollers are basically what the name suggests - they have no texture across the whole length of the roller. This style is great for people just beginning to use rollers since they’re not as intense as their textured counterpart and are also usually the cheaper option.

Size: As if there wasn’t already enough to consider when it comes to choosing a foam roller, they also come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Long foam rollers are usually around 36 inches in length and are a great choice if you’re buying your first foam roller. They’re ideal for using on your back and offer more stability than short rollers when being used on the lower half of the body. Short foam rollers can range anywhere from 4-24 inches and are better suited for working on specific areas like the arms or the calves and are perfect if space is limited or if you need to take your roller with you on the go.

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