Foam rollers are a proven tool for faster muscle recovery, increasing range of motion, and better workouts in the gym. Here is a breakdown of the best foam rollers for every kind of athlete and gymgoer.
The foam roller is one of the top tools that you see in the gym, training facility, the local YMCA, and wherever it is that you go to do work.
The explosion in popularity of this self-massage 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).
Want to jump straight to the best of the best? The TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller (click here to shop at Amazon) continues to be my top-rated, all-purpose foam roller for self-massage and myofascial release.
There are some serious benefits to foam rolling:
💪 Promotes blood-flow to target areas, increasing circulation
💪 Kickstarts recovery by jostling tight and sore muscles and ligaments
💪 Lessens the severity of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
💪 Increases range of motion and flexibility
So, the benefits of foam rolling are free-range legit.
Good to know!
But foam rollers are not all built equal.
Over decades of training as a high-level athlete and now as a coach, I’ve had the chance to try them all.
No matter what your training and recovery goals are in the gym, there is a foam roller for you.
Let’s dive right in.
1. The TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller
⭐⭐⭐ Best overall foam roller
The TriggerPoint Grid is the first foam roller I ever bought, and it is my day-to-day roller that I use before working out, after working out, or when my hips and back are tight and I simply need to loosen up those creaky bones.
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 (the Grid can handle up to 500lbs according to the manufacturer’s specs).
As you can see below, it’s part of my recovery toolkit (not pictured: my EMS machine and collection of nine thousand shaker bottles).
The best part about the Triggerpoint rollers is that you know you are going get 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 sags and deforms under your weight, grinding any rolling motion to a stop.
The TriggerPoint rollers roll smoothly, providing a jerk-free rolling experience, while also not slipping out from underneath you.
The TriggerPoint roller comes in a huge variety of sizes and colors (check TriggerPoint’s storefront on Amazon for a full listing of size and color options here), and the Grid, for a 12-inch model, costs around $30.
2. Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller
⭐ Best low-cost 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.
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 a 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 (check here for current prices on Amazon).
For cheapness, sturdiness, and overall utility the Amazon Basics High-Density foam roller is your go-to (and is also available in a variety of lengths and color combinations).
3. The Rumble Roller
⭐ Best foam roller for very muscular athletes and gymgoers
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 therapist’s 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 hardcore, 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.
It’s a little pricier than your 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.
Rogue Fitness sells them through their website, and with lengths of 13″ to 31″ you have plenty of options for going hard-core with your self-myofascial release.
4. TriggerPoint Grid VIBE Vibrating Foam Roller
⭐Best vibrating foam roller
Why would you want a foam roller that vibrates?
By combining the recovery boosting effects of foam rolling with the proven recovery-boosting power of vibration therapy, you get a 1-2 punch that improves range of motion and cuts down the severity of muscle soreness.
Which means you can get back to working out, sooner.
There are a surprisingly large number of these types of rollers on the market, with plenty of cheapo knockoffs, but my favorite vibrating foam roller of all time is the TriggerPoint VIBE.
It’s pricier than the competition, retailing for around $100 (check Amazon for today’s pricing and availability), but the quality is hard to beat.
The VIBE has four different vibration speeds, a battery that lasts two hours on a full charge, and the shell is the medium-density rubber foam that you expect from a TriggerPoint roller.
5. TRX Rev Foam Roller
Although TRX is best known for their suspension straps, they also make a range of fitness and training gear, from slam balls to yuppers—foam rollers.
The TRX Rev is a medium firmness roller. EVA foam bubbles help dig at sore muscles and target pesky knots.
The core is solid, and the 14-inch roller is light and small enough that you can toss it in your gym bag.
TRX sells the Rev for around $40 (check Amazon for current pricing), and with a smooth rolling experience and the foam bubbles kickstarting recovery you will leave DOMS in the rearview.
6. Brazyn Morph Portable Foam Roller
⭐ Best foam roller that you can travel with
Foam rollers are bulky pieces of recovery gear. Especially the full size ones, which makes hitting the road with them problematic. (That’s where tools like massage balls and muscle roller sticks can come in very handy.)
But for the gymgoer and athlete who prefers rolling it out, Brazyn Morph’s solution for this is the elegantly designed Bravo Series foam roller. Roll out your knots and soreness, and when done, the roller can be flattened to approximately two inches in thickness.
Basically the same thickness as a folded sweater.
Although the foldable design might make you think it’s less capable of handling full bodyweight—not so. The aluminum and bamboo construction is rated for up to 350lbs.
Brazyn Morph proudly makes these in Europe, and while the roller is a little pricier (around $70 on Amazon—check for current pricing and availability), this thing is a soreness-busting roller that you can finally take on the road with you.
7. ProSource Fit Half Foam Roller
⭐ Best half foam roller
Even though they don’t roll, half foam rollers are a staple in my recovery and mobility work.
I love using them for my back, especially my lower back which tightens up from hours of sitting every day. They are also a great tool for mobilizing your sacrum, the upper back, a stretching tool for calves and ankles, and much more.
ProSource Fit makes an excellent half roller that is dirt cheap, with a 12” model that is less than $10 (check Amazon for current pricing).
Made with high-density black foam, and weighing next to nothing (less than 0.2 pounds), a half roller is a fantastic tool for increasing the range of motion in those creaky joints and self-myofascial release.
Take the Next Step
Choose the foam roller that is the best for you. You will speed up muscle recovery, increase range of motion, and improve athletic performance.
Pick the right roller for you and your training goals and get to work!
🏆 The TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller is the best quality all-purpose roller
🏆 The Rumble Roller is perfect for dense and muscular athletes
🏆 Prosource Fit’s Half Roller is the top half roller
🏆 Amazon Basics High-Density Foam Roller is the best value pick