Foam rollers are tube shaped self-massage devices that help you work out those knots and tight spots that are constantly nagging you. You can use them to warm up before working out, and afterwards for recovery. They are also useful for anyone looking to improve their flexibility and muscular health – it feels great once you get used to it!
With today’s research showing just how bad sitting all day is for your overall health, foam rolling seems like a must for anyone with an office job or daily routine in a similar setting. On the other end of the spectrum, athletes should be rolling to prevent injury, decrease recovery time, and improve athletic performance.
Buying guide: Let’s get into our foam roller reviews!
This is Mobility Guardian’s comprehensive review of the best foam rollers on the market. We’ve tested and reviewed all of these rollers for your benefit, let us help you to choose the best foam roller for your needs and lifestyle.
|The Grid||$$$||One of the best rollers on the market hands down. Features variable contours and durable construction. I would recommend this roller to anyone, it's the best roller out there right now for the price.|| (5 / 5)|
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|Generic EPE Foam Rollers||$$||Great for beginners on a budget. The construction is solid, however not quite as good as the EVA foam rollers. They're a little less expensive and still offer the same benefits of use.|| (4 / 5)|
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|j/fit EVA Rollers||$$||The j/fit models are great for beginners or individuals wanting a softer roller. These EVA foam rollers are much more durable and only a bit more expensive than EPE rollers.|| (4 / 5)|
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|Rumble Roller||$$$$||Great for the experienced roller looking for more stimulation. If you're new to foam rolling, avoid the Rumble Roller. This roller features heavy textures used for deep penetration.|| (4 / 5)|
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|AccuPoint Roller||$$$||Our second pick for the best foam roller. It's a hybrid between the surface texture of The Grid, and the Rumble Roller so you get the best of both worlds for a smooth or targeted roll. Great for anyone who rolls regularly.|| (4 / 5)|
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|Barracuda Cork Roller||$$$$||Another beginner beware warning: this 100% cork roller is advertised as the toughest on the market. I recommend this to those who want the deepest tissue massage out there.|| (5 / 5)|
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The Grid is our top pick out of all of the foam rollers. It has textured areas so that you can get into those hard to reach hip flexors and other problem areas. It also has flat areas for beginners and larger muscle rolling. Coming in at around $40 and having such durable construction, you really can’t go wrong choosing The Grid foam roller as your first roller. I own one myself and have been using it for over two years with no complaints, the thing is solid. You can pick up a Grid roller in three different sizes: the Mini which is 5-inch, the Original is 13-inch, and the Grid 2.0 is 26-inch. There is also an additional X Extra Firm 13-inch version that features a more rugged construction and a more firm surface for the advanced rollers. Click here to read our full review of The Grid Foam Roller.
Sizes available: Mini (5-inch), Original (13-inch), X Extra Firm (13-inch), Grid 2.0 (26-inch)
Durability: Extremely durable, rugged surface and inner core.
Review rating: (5 / 5) and Mobility Guardian’s top pick!
Cons: Not many!
EPE foam rollers get our recommendation for beginner rollers who have never used a foam roller, and aren’t looking to spend a lot of money to try one out. They receive excellent reviews all around, and get the job done right when it comes to tissue massage. They are a little bit softer than most EVA rollers, so again that’s a great feature for anyone just starting out with rolling as it can be a bit uncomfortable when you start. These EPE rollers can be found in a wide variety of sizes and almost every colour. So if you’re just starting out and on a limited budget, check out these rollers for a fairly durable and reliable option.
Sizes available: 6″x6″, 12″x6″, 16″x6″, 24″x6″, 36×6″
Durability: Fairly dense, and durable model
Review rating: (4.5 / 5) Mobility Guardian’s budget and introductory pick!
Cons: It may feel lackluster after you get used to foam rolling and want a more firm roller. The shape can be lost with extended use.
If you’re going for a smooth foam roller, the j/fit is one of my favorite picks. It features a heat class seal and the highest density of EVA foam available. They also claim that their roller is the “longest lasting available”. I’ve found that the EVA rollers are much more durable than the EPE foam rollers, so if you have a bit more room in your budget go for an EVA. These rollers feature really great and solid construction for a reasonable price, enjoy a classic smooth foam roller massage with this device. They’re available in a wide variety of colors and sizes as well.
Sizes available: 12″, 18″, 24″, 36″
Durability: Extremely dense and durable model featuring heat seal
Review rating: (4.5 / 5) Mobility Guardian’s favorite smooth foam roller
Cons: You may want to upgrade to a firmer roller as you gain experience.
The Rumble Roller is one of the more unique rollers featuring a surface covered in firm but flexible bumps for deep tissue stimulation. It’s a great and durable roller made with high quality materials, but I would not recommend it for a beginner as the surface is quite unique and requires more control and experience to get the most benefit from. If you want to check out this roller, I would suggest one of the intro picks or The Grid before moving onto one like the Rumble Roller. Once you’re more experienced having access to those hard-to-stimulate spots can be quite the treat.
Sizes available: Half-size, Full-size
Durability: Long lasting construction made from high-quality materials.
Review rating: (4.5 / 5)
Cons: Doesn’t roll very well. Isn’t very good for larger muscle massaging.
The AccuPoint is actually the first foam roller I ever purchased. It’s almost a hybrid between The Grid and the Rumble roller, featuring smooth areas, and also contoured bumpy areas to get those tricky problem spots. I recommend this roller to anyone because it does have that amazing versatility that you won’t find in other rollers. There are some complaints about durability, but I haven’t encountered any myself. Being able to roll and massage tissue differently based on how you position the roller makes this an awesome addition to your self-massage arsenal.
Sizes available: 13″x5″
Durability: Durable core and rugged surface finish
Review rating: (4 / 5) Mobility Guardian’s all around pick!
Cons: Not many!
The Barracuda Cork Roller is by far the most unique roller I’ve ever used and reviewed. It is definitely the toughest roller that I’ve had the delight of using, and is an interesting product to say the least. Buying and using one of these bad boys is not for the faint of heart, be forewarned that this will be one of the more grueling foam rolling sessions you’ve ever had. However at some point in your self-massage career, you may be ready to unleash this beast on your well conditioned muscles and fascia. When you’re ready, enjoy this almost 18-inch roller that will provide the deepest massage possible and release tension from those stubborn trigger points. While this roller is a bit more expensive than most, it’ll be the toughest roll you’ve ever experienced.
Sizes available: 6″x17.5″
Durability: Solid cork construction, will NEVER lose it shape like some rollers might.
Review rating: (5 / 5)
Cons: Brutally tough on the muscles, although that may not be a bad thing for some!
Tips on choosing a roller
Now that you’ve checked out our foam roller view, you probably still have a few questions on how to pick the best one for you. It is widely recommended that beginners use less dense foam rollers at first to gauge how much pressure can be handled before moving on to the firmer and denser models. The goal isn’t to apply so much pressure it becomes painful, it is to allow those areas to relax. This can still be easily achieved with a less dense foam roller. Once you can handle it, firmer rollers will allow easier targeting of tight areas, and tend to be more durable. Examples of less dense rollers would be the EPE or EVA soft foam rollers:
Durability – How durable do you want your foam roller to be?
If you want your foam roller to last, durability is an important quality to keep in mind. While the best foam roller isn’t always going to be the most expensive one, paying a few extra bucks up front can save the inevitable replacement cost of the cheap basic type. In general, if you’re just starting out I would recommend an EVA roller or The Grid. Both of these rollers are reasonably priced, and will likely not need to be replaced for a very long time (think several years). Aside from buying a foam roller, make sure that you store your roller in a safe place and give it a wipe down once you’re finished with it – this will go a long way in preserving the surface which is likely to break down first.
Surface texture – what types of foam rollers are out there?
My general guideline is to start simple at first, think the EPE Roller, or the j/fit Roller. Starting with these smooth surfaces will give you a chance to adjust your weight and feel how the roller works before you go jabbing it with squares and grids and the like. If you’re really set on doing specific tissue massage, I would recommend you going with the AccuPoint Roller which gives you the best of both worlds. There are soft smooth areas alongside bumpy areas so you can have some textures to play with as you gain some more experience.
What size foam roller should you get?
This is another really common questions I hear – what size of foam roller is best for me? I generally recommend the mid sized rollers (around 12-16 inches) for the averaged size person. If you’re taller you may want a longer roller (think 16-24″) so that you can hit all of the parts of your body while rolling without adjusting the positioning. There are also smaller sized rollers that are suitable for travelling and storage. I wouldn’t normally recommend them for anything other than those reasons as they require a lot of re-positioning and extra work to get the stimulation you need.
I always say “buy once cry once” when it comes to purchases that will be used on a regular basis. However sometimes we do have budgetary restrictions. My budget picks would have to be the j/fit Roller for a smooth roller, and the AccuPoint Roller for a varied-surface. These are both really solid models for affordable prices; you can’t go wrong with picking either of them.
Our Top Picks
- Top pick overall: The Grid
- Beginner’s choice: EPE Roller
- All around pick: AccuPoint Roller
- Favorite smooth roller: j/fit EVA Roller
Learning to use your roller
Here’s a really comprehensive video on how to foam roll your ENTIRE body, check it:
Here at Mobility Guardian we produce video, image, and text tutorials on how to foam roll and do other mobility related exercises; so you’re in the right place. Here are a few categories on our site where you can find roller exercises, resistance band exercises, and some stretches.Find Mobility Guardian on Google+