Looking for reviews of the most popular foam rollers on the market? Here are the best foam rollers for boosting recovery, decreasing muscle soreness, and improving mobility and flexibility in your muscles and joints.
The foam roller is one of the top tools that you see in the gym, training facility, the local YMCA, wherever it is that you go to do work. The explosion in popularity of the tool over the past decade has been remarkable. The appeal of it is understandable: instead of sitting and stretching—which can be a tad boring—foam rolling is engaging and targeted.
The premise of foam rolling is simple: it’s a form of self-massage that helps loosen muscles before and after exercise (also known as self-myofascial release).
There are some serious benefits to foam rolling:
- You promote blood-flow to targeted areas;
- You kick-start the recovery process so that you can bounce back faster;
- Foam rolling also helps to lessen the severity and duration of muscle soreness.
So, the benefits of foam rolling are free-range legit.
Good to know!
But does that mean all foam rollers are built equal?
In this quick guide to the best foam rollers on the market, we will cover three of them, one for advanced and really muscle-dense athletes, the softer (but still totally rollable roller) foam roller that appeals to a wide variety of people, and the most popular of them all, the original gangster of them all, the Triggerpoint Grid.
The Best Foam Rollers for Athletes and Gymgoers
Here’s what you need to know about picking out the best foam roller for you and your workout goals:
1. The TriggerPoint Foam Roller.
The Triggerpoint roller comes in different shapes, sizes and colors. They are bright (making them hard to lose, I suppose?), and mega durable. You can stand on one easily, although I certainly wouldn’t recommend it (can handle up to 500lbs according to the manufacturer’s specs).
It’s lightweight, the gridded format helps you carve out the nooks and crannies so that you can get at those problem areas, it comes in different sizes, and it’s easy to transport.
One thing the TP rollers provide is a smooth roll. Now, this might seem like a silly thing to mention, but there are rollers that don’t, well, roll all that smoothly.
You’ve likely noticed this if you ever tried rolling on foam that was too soft—it was would sag and deform under your weight, grinding any rolling motion to a stop.
Similar to some rollers which have “grids” with different ranges of depth along the side of the roller, which make a smooth roll difficult.
The TriggerPoint rollers are awesome for the fact that they roll properly, ensuring you a smooth and jerk-free rolling experience, while also not slipping out from underneath you.
The TriggerPoint roller also comes in a variety of sizes and colors, from your standard black to lime green, orange, pink, and even a camo color combo.
2. AmazonBasics High Density Round Foam Roller.
This particular foam roller is usually my go to at the YMCA, as they are often the only ones left after everyone raids the TriggerPoint rollers at the gym. Which is odd, given that they are an ideal balance of firmness and softness, making it ideal for all body shapes (i.e. people on the bony-side who find the harder rollers leave them feeling bruised and full of ouchies).
Unlike the really soft foam rollers, which can feel like little more than a soft mattress, this roller is a good combo of firmness and foaminess that make it ideal for noobs and advanced rollers. It’s also mega cheap, with the 12-inch model coming in at under $20 via Amazon.
For cheapness, sturdiness, and overall utility the AmazonBasics High Density foam roller is your go-to.
3. The Rumble Roller.
This bad boy looks more like a medieval torture device, and make no mistake, those little plastic fingers will reach deep into places and cause you some sweet, sweet pain. I love the Rumble Roller (full review of the Rumble Roller can be viewed here) especially for digging into my traps and around the shoulder blade. Cross your arms in front of your chest and let the plastic knobs attack the muscles around your scapula.
The Rumble Roller is designed for gymgoers and athletes with denser layers of muscle: if you are a really bony person this is not the roller for you.
The roll itself a little jerkier, but that’s to be expected with the length of the textured foam fingers. These fingers—designed to simulate the thumbs of a therapists hands kneading and digging into you—offer far more penetration into the muscle compared to the flattish grid of the TriggerPoint rollers or the totally flat AmazonBasics roller.
On top of the added depth of muscle ouchiness, the Rumble Roller actually comes in two different densities.
The blue model is their “regular” density, with the black one being 36% harder. The black model is for the hard core, with Rumble Roller themselves noting that it’s for users who have particularly thick muscle tissue that doesn’t respond well to typical massage pressure.
Use and abuse: there are two other features of the Rumble Roller that I appreciate bigly. The first is that the roller is water-proof (making it ideal for the sweatiest of the sweaty athletes). As a result, washing it every once in a while is all good. Secondly, the molding on the roller includes an antimicrobial to ward off the growth of gross bugs or microbes.
It’s a little pricier than you average foam roller, but when it comes to getting deep on your deep tissue massage this is as close as you are going to get to having a massage therapist work on you.
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