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Getting your heart rate up, breaking a sweat, and building strength are primary components of maintaining physical health—but what you do after a training session is crucial too. "Post-workout recovery is everything," says fitness trainer André Crews. "You cannot get stronger and faster without taking care of your body."
Byrdie Researched & Approved
Our best overall pick is the Bala Hourglass Roller, which features a unique contoured design, lightweight yet dense construction, and chic color selection. For a more affordable option, consider the Amazon Basics High-Density Foam Roller, which is made from extra-firm yet lightweight foam to give you a good roll every time.
While rest days and daily stretching are part of the equation, gentle massage has shown to be one of the most effective ways to prevent exercise burnout and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). And as it turns out, foam rolling is one of the best self-massage techniques, allowing you to access all your hard-to-reach muscles anytime, anywhere.
"Foam rollers are used to decrease fascia tension," says physical therapist Lisa Mitro, PT. She explains that fascia is the thin tissue surrounding your muscles, and it can sometimes get stiff. According to group exercise instructor Fred Edwards, "A foam roller is really going to relax the muscles and release any tension you may have."
We conducted hours of research on the best foam rollers, evaluating each on features to help you get a good roll like design, material, size, weight capacity, and ease of use. We also looked at extra features like color. After considering dozens of products and consulting a physical therapist for expert recommendations, we landed on these best in show.
Scroll down for the best foam rollers to help ease muscle aches and pains.
Best Overall: Bala The Hourglass Roller
Lightweight yet dense
Bala is known for functional fitness accessories with a sexy aesthetic, and the Hourglass is no exception. This thoughtfully designed foam roller is lightweight yet dense with unique contouring and a cinched middle.
At 19 inches long and 5 inches in diameter, it's not the most compact option on this list. Still, it can be used for workout recovery techniques, including breaking up tight muscles, stretching, and yoga flows for enhanced flexibility. The chic color selection doesn't hurt either.
Material: Foam | Dimensions: 19 x 5 inches | Color: Charcoal, blush, sand
Best Budget: Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller
Lightweight yet firm
Four sizes available
Can feel raised seams
Amazon makes a great wallet-friendly roller. Molded from extra-firm yet lightweight foam, the high-density design doesn't waste time working out your kinks. It's 6 inches in diameter and comes in four lengths ranging from 12 to 36 inches.
Material: Molded polypropylene foam | Dimensions: 4 sizes available | Color: Black, blue, speckled
Best Splurge: Therabody Wave Roller Smart Foam Roller
To take your at-home physical therapy to the next level, you might consider investing in the Wave Roller. This high-tech foam roller has a wavy surface and a vibrating feature to provide efficient full-body massage with just the right amount of pressure—and it's no louder than a soft purr. It connects to the Therabody app through Bluetooth to offer a more customized experience.
Material: EVA foam | Dimensions: 12 x 5 inches | Color: Black
Best Grid: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
Targets trigger points
500-pound weight capacity
Great color selection
Too short for some
Foam rolling can help break up trigger points, potentially preventing muscle spasms, soreness, and fatigue. The Grid's crosshatched exterior was designed specifically for targeting these sensitive spots. Not only that, but this exceptionally durable roller boasts a 500-pound weight capacity.
Material: EVA foam | Dimensions: 13 x 5.5 inches | Color: Black, camo, mint, lime, orange, pink
"Use a foam roller for at least 90 seconds to get the most benefits."—Lisa Mitro, Physical Therapist
Best Semi-Soft: OPTP Super Soft Density Foam Roller Super Soft Density Foam Roller
"I love OPTP foam roller products because they come in different sizes and densities and last a long time," says Dr. Mitro. Made of semi-soft foam, the beginner-friendly Pro-Roller promises gentle relief from muscle tension. Although this product is on the pricier side, its superior design will outlast competitors, which makes it worth the spend.
Material: Foam | Dimensions: 36 x 6 inches | Color: Teal, black, orange
Best Extra-Firm: 321 Strong Deep Tissue Massager
3D gridded surface
Lightweight yet dense
Too short for some
If you like deep-tissue massages, you'll appreciate this extra-firm roller from 321 Strong. The three-dimensional gridded surface is designed to mimic the pressure of a person's fingers, thumbs, and palms. It targets all your stiff muscles without being overly painful or too uncomfortable to use.
Material: Foam | Dimensions: 13 x 5 inches | Color: Black, blue, multi
Most Versatile: Lululemon Double Roller Lululemon Double Roller
Lululemon's Double Roller flaunts a versatile two-in-one design. You can use the hollow exterior to roll out your hips, arms, and legs, then pull out the sculpted inner cylinder to massage hard-to-reach areas throughout your back. They can also be used together for a little extra density.
Material: Foam | Dimensions: 20 x 5 inches | Color: Rose, pink, marbled
Best Vibrating: Hyperice Vyper Go Massage Roller
Loosens stiff muscles
The Vyper Go looks kind of like a Bluetooth speaker, and while it does connect to the Hyperice app, it's actually a cutting-edge foam roller. This self-massager leans on vibration therapy to loosen and relax stiff muscles throughout your body. Measuring just 11 x 4 inches with a rechargeable battery, it's also travel-friendly and TSA-approved for carry-on luggage. This is one of the more expensive options, but its tech-savvy design justifies its cost, in our opinion.
Material: Polypropylene foam | Dimensions: 11 x 4 inches | Color: Black
Best Extra-Long: Gaiam Restore Total Body 36" Foam Roller
The Gaiam Restore is 36 inches long and 6 inches in diameter. While the size isn't ideal for travel, it's great for double-leg and full-body rolling. Made of semi-firm foam, it promises gentle relief from muscle tension, and the durable design is backed by a three-year warranty.
Material: Foam | Dimensions: 36 x 6 inches | Color: Gray
Best Hollow: Nike Recovery Foam Roller
Lightweight yet firm
Too short for some
Nike's take on the foam roller is this hollowed-out cylinder. It's lightweight yet extra-firm with a textured surface designed to target various muscle groups. At just 13 x 5 inches, it's small enough to pack in a suitcase, and you can save even more space by stashing clothes in the hollow core.
Material: Polypropylene foam, plastic | Dimensions: 13 x 5 inches | Color: Black
Best Collapsible: Brazyn Morph Foam Roller
Not as dense as other options
This collapsible roller is a great option for travel. The Brazyn Morph is 15 inches long and 5.5 inches in diameter, but it's under 2 inches thick when folded flat. And it weighs just a pound and a half, so you'll hardly notice it in your suitcase or backpack. All things considered, the 350-pound weight capacity is pretty impressive too.
Material: Foam, bamboo, recycled aluminum | Dimensions: 14 x 5.5 inches | Color: Black, navy, orange, sage
Best Bar: Tiger Tail Massage Stick
Hard to access back
Unlike its cylindrical counterparts, the Roadster is a bar-shaped massager with non-slip handles on both ends. Though it's not the best for accessing your back, this foam roller makes it easy to target trigger points and potentially break up scar tissue in your thighs, shins, and calves.
Material: Nonporous foam, plastic | Dimensions: Three lengths available | Color: Black/red
Best for the Back: Acumobility Ultimate Back Roller
Unique wheel design
1,000-pound weight capacity
The Acumobility Roller is by far the best option for working out the muscles in your neck, shoulders, upper and lower back. Thanks to the unique wheel shape and textured surface, it gets into all the crevices along your spine and shoulder blades. At 3.4 pounds, it's on the heavier side for a foam roller, but it makes sense considering it can support up to 1,000 pounds of weight.
Material: EVA foam | Dimensions: 11 x 7 inches | Color: Black
Best for Hard-to-Reach Areas: Addaday Bioscillator Full Body Vibrating Peanut Massager Foam Roller
The Peanut is clutch for accessing hard-to-reach areas, like your back and shoulder blades. This rubberized foam roller also uses vibration therapy to help loosen up your muscles and speed up recovery. Weighing a little over 3 pounds, it's relatively heavy, but the rechargeable battery and compact design make it more portable than others.
Material: Foam, rubber | Dimensions: 7 x 4 inches | Color: Blue
Best Basic: GoFit Pro Foam Massage Roller
Lightweight yet dense
If you don't need all the bells and whistles, the GoFit Pro is a solid choice. This basic foam roller is lightweight yet dense and durable enough to last several years. Measuring 24 inches long with a 6-inch diameter, it's also big enough for full-body rolling.
Material: Foam | Dimensions: 24 x 6 inches | Color: Black
Our best overall pick is the Bala Hourglass Roller on account of its unique contoured design, lightweight yet dense construction, and chic color selection. For folks on a budget, we recommend the Amazon Basics High-Density Foam Roller. If you're interested in a higher-tech option and can swing the price, the Therabody Wave Roller won't let you down.
Meet the Expert
Lisa Mitro, PT, DPT, FMSC, is a licensed physical therapist offering mobility-focused programs for athletes recovering from injury.
André Crews is a trainer at Ladder. His program focuses on functional weight training and strengthening exercises.
Fred Edwards is an on-demand group fitness trainer at Studio Sweat.
What to Look For in a Foam Roller
Size and Shape
Different shaped and sized foam rollers will massage different parts of your body. Generally, the standard cylinder foam roller can massage most of your body. However, a slimmer stick or ring/ball-shaped foam roller can target your back, shoulders, and other hard-to-reach areas more efficiently.
Hard vs. Soft Foam
Typically, foam rollers are made from high-density foam. These are very firm and can maintain their shape for long periods of time. If you're looking for a softer massage, look for a roller made of low-density foam. Just remember that these may not keep their shape as well as their high-density counterparts, so they may need to be replaced frequently.
Texture and Other Features
Foam rollers can either come smooth or textured. Smooth foam rollers are great for beginners, whereas textured foam follers allow you to create a targeted massage to rub out any kinks or knots. If you really want to take your massages to the next level, you can also look for foam rollers that offer vibration and heat.
How do you use a foam roller?
Simply grab a foam roller, place it under some part of your body, and roll back and forth to give yourself a massage. But don’t be surprised if your first foam rolling experience feels a little intense. Crews adds, “Whether you’re new to working out or a fitness enthusiast, you will likely experience a degree of discomfort the first time you foam roll."
What does a foam roller help with?
Foam rollers offer a bunch of benefits. Although more research is needed, it has been found to prevent sore muscles and relieve pain. it also improves range of motion.
Is foam rolling better than stretching?
Not really. In fact, foam rolling is actually a great activity to combine with stretching in your warmup and cooldowns. One study found that when combined, foam rolling and stretching improved flexibility and performance in adolescent athletes more than doing them individually.
How long should you use a foam roller?
You can use your foam roller up to five to six times a day in three to five-minute intervals. You can even try it 10 minutes before bedtime to help put you to sleep.
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Why Trust Brydie
Theresa Holland is a freelance copywriter and product reviewer specializing in fitness and lifestyle. She compiled insights from three experts for this story, including two fitness trainers and a physical therapist, who offered product recommendations and insight into the benefits of foam rolling. Theresa has tried self-massage devices and workout equipment from several of the featured brands, including Bala, Therabody, GoFit, Lululemon, and TriggerPoint. A Byrdie contributor since 2020, she covers exercise equipment, wellness gadgets, and beauty tools.
7 best foam rollers, according to experts. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/select/shopping/best-foam-rollers-ncna1283458
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