What to Buy The 10 Best Foam Rollers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed The TriggerPoint GRID 1.0 Foam Roller can be used to relax both large and small muscles By Julie Laing Julie Laing Julie Laing has been a writer and editor for 25-plus years and enjoys exploring how health, movement, and food intersect. She is the author of “The Complete Guide to Pickling,” a food columnist for the Flathead Beacon, and a reviewer and recipe developer for numerous other publications. health's editorial guidelines Updated on April 5, 2023 Medically reviewed by Laura Campedelli, PT Medically reviewed by Laura Campedelli, PT Laura Campedelli, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. learn more Fact checked by Richard Scherr Fact checked by Richard Scherr Rich Scherr is an updates strategist and fact checker for Dotdash Meredith brands, including Health and Verywell. He is a seasoned financial and technology journalist who served as editor-in-chief of the Potomac Tech Wire for nearly two decades, and is a regular contributor to the sports pages of The Baltimore Sun. He has also been a news editor for America Online and has contributed to the Associated Press and The Washington Post. health's fact checking process Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Pinterest Email this page In This Article Expand Jump to a Section Our top picks Reviews Our Testing Process What to Know Your Questions, Answered Who We Are We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Health / Kristin Kempa Whether you're sore after a tough workout or stiff from sitting at a desk all day, a foam roller can bring the relief you need. By helping massage your muscles, this increasingly popular tool releases tension and moves blood and oxygen through muscle tissue. With just your body weight and a foam roller, you can relieve tightness, reduce muscle soreness, and decrease inflammation. Because regular use of a foam roller increases blood flow, it makes muscle tissues healthier, too, according to Kathleen Ingalls, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy with her own practice in Montana. She explains that even muscles that get stiff from staying in the same position all day, like sitting at a desk (not just muscles that are sore after exercise), can benefit from foam rolling. Compared to some exercise equipment, foam rollers tend to be straightforward. Most are cylindrical, long, and mainly made of foam (of course). Yet they vary widely in firmness, length, diameter, texture, and special features. To help you find the right foam roller, we had our editors test a variety of popular options for a seven-day period. Each day, we used the foam roller for a series of five stretches for 30 seconds each. Then we evaluated the foam rollers on effectiveness, comfort, ease of use, and value. A physical therapist on our Medical Expert Board also reviewed this article for medical and scientific accuracy surrounding what to look for in a foam roller, how to use one, and for how long. Our Top Picks Best Overall: Trigger Point Performance GRID 1.0 Foam Roller at Amazon Jump to Review Best Budget: Amazon Basics High Density Round Foam Roller at Amazon Jump to Review Best Splurge: Hyperice Vyper Go at Amazon Jump to Review Easiest to Use: Lululemon Double Roller at Lululemon Jump to Review Best for Lower Body: OPTP Black Axis Firm Foam Roller at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Deep Self-Myofascial Release: 321 STRONG Foam Roller Deep Tissue Massager at Amazon Jump to Review Best Deep Tissue: LuxFit Premium High-Density Foam Roller at Walmart Jump to Review Best Gentle: OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Density Foam Roller at Amazon Jump to Review Best Trigger Point: Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls at Amazon Jump to Review Best Travel: Brazyn Morph Foam Roller at Amazon Jump to Review Best Overall Trigger Point Performance GRID 1.0 Foam Roller 5 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Academy.com Why We Like It: For an affordable price, this foam roller has a length suitable for numerous exercises, an effective surface with varying textures, and a firm core. It’s Worth Noting: This roller is ideal for beginners, so more advanced users may want an option with additional features. The TriggerPoint GRID 1.0 foam roller checked all the boxes during testing because it was easy to use and provided instant relief to sore muscles. The firm core, a hollow plastic tube, had minimal give, yet the external foam layer had rounded grooves soft enough to release knots without digging in too intensely. We were also pleased that it takes up minimal space and that we could even store items in the core when not in use (a towel, instructions, jump rope, etc.). With exercise guides on the packaging and access to online instructional videos, the TriggerPoint is aimed at both those transitioning from a smooth roller and advanced rollers looking for a texture upgrade. Its surface makes it roll pretty quickly, but the 13-inch length helps with staying centered on it. Compared with longer designs, it is less cumbersome when rolling hard-to-reach muscles, like an inner leg. After just one day of use, we felt relaxed and loose with elongated muscles, with those feelings lasting during the seven-day testing period and afterward. Price at time of publication: $37 Product Details: Shape: CylinderLength: 13 inchesDiameter: 5.5 inchesTexture: 3D gridDensity: FirmFeatures: Printed exercise guides on packaging, online instructional videos Best Budget Amazon Basics High Density Round Foam Roller 4.8 Amazon View On Amazon Why We Like It: Lightweight yet dense foam and a great price make this roller both effective and affordable. It’s Worth Noting: This roller has such smooth, lightweight foam that it may roll out from underneath you. Sometimes simple is the answer for exercise equipment—especially when it’s affordable. That was our reaction after testing the Amazon Basics Foam Roller. The smooth surface of this roller lacks the ridges and texturing of some pricier options, but its firmness can still provide relief. We really appreciated its denser foam and felt it was better than the softer texture and ridges of the others we tested, especially for the even pressure it gave when rolling out knots. Despite its density, the smooth foam is lightweight and doesn’t turn sticky even after a sweaty workout. But we did feel it was more likely to roll away than some of its competitors, making rolling on a yoga mat or carpet helpful. Price at time of publication: $14 Product Details: Shape: CylinderLength: 17.75 inchesDiameter: 5.75 inchesTexture: SmoothDensity: FirmFeatures: Not listed Best Splurge Hyperice Vyper Go 4.6 Amazon View On Amazon View On Nordstrom View On Backcountry.com Why We Like It: The adjustable vibration speed and hourglass shape of this battery-powered foam roller make it comfortable and effective. It’s Worth Noting: We won’t sugarcoat it—this device is expensive and has a learning curve. The Hyperice Vyper Go comes with a high price tag and a learning curve, but it may be just the upgrade you need if you are an experienced roller training for a big event like an ultramarathon. With grooves that fit the contours of various body parts and three vibration speeds to adjust the intensity, we’re convinced this product is more effective than a nonvibrating roller. During testing, it relieved tightness almost immediately. We could tell it had really worked out some kinks in the neck and hips, but we also didn't have that foam roll soreness that sometimes happens with new routines. Adjusting to the vibrating feature may take practice, especially if you are used to working out tension on no-batteries-required foam rollers. Once you get used to it, the vibration can help you glide with the roller and smoothly reach the end range of each rolling exercise. Price at time of publication: $149 Product Details: Shape: HourglassLength: 10.6 inchesDiameter: 3.9 inchesTexture: ContouredDensity: FirmFeatures: Power supply and plug adapters for charging, 2-hour battery, 3-speed vibration, app for exercises, and automated speed Affordable Home Gym Equipment Everyone Raves About—All Under $30 Easiest to Use Lululemon Double Roller 4.8 Lululemon View On Lululemon Why We Like It: It’s versatile with a softer, larger-diameter outer roller bolstered by a firmer, narrower roller that can also be used separately. It’s Worth Noting: The cost may seem high, but you really are getting two rollers with different functionalities that store neatly as one. If you’ve tried a foam roller and felt bruised and sore enough that you never went back, you may have a friend in the Lululemon Double Roller—two friends, actually. This pair slides snuggly together to save space. The slender inner roller provides a supportive core when rolling large muscles on the softer outer layer, and then you can slide it out to put targeted pressure on specific points. When we tested these rollers, they were easy to pull apart and slide back together, and their length opened up a range of exercises. Overall, we found them very comfortable and great for beginners who aren't sure how dense they'd like their foam roller to be. Price at time of publication: $64 Product Details: Shape: CylinderLength: 20 inchesDiameter: 5 inchesTexture: Grooved and spiraledDensity: Medium and firmFeatures: Two rollers Best for Lower Body OPTP Black Axis Firm Foam Roller 4.8 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Optp.com Why We Like It: The large size and smooth, firm structure make this roller the top choice for loosening and relaxing lower-body muscles. It’s Worth Noting: This roller isn’t a good traveler, so you’ll need a place to store this roller in your home or workout space. This roller is a giant but a helpful one. Its size lets you hit large areas in one pass, making it a good fit for lower-body exercises. Our editor, who is developing sciatica, used it mainly on hips and thighs to great relief. And we found that rolling for 15–20 minutes noticeably improved sleep. We also liked this roller for releasing tension in a tight upper back and could align it both perpendicular and parallel to roll from shoulder blades to hips. The size does have some drawbacks—mainly that it won’t fit in a gym bag and takes up storage space. But, during testing, the length felt more comfortable than shorter rollers, and the firmness seemed effective on tight spots, making it worth finding room to store and use daily. Price at time of publication: $24 Product Details: Shape: CylinderLength: 36 inchesDiameter: 6 inchesTexture: SmoothDensity: FirmFeatures: Not listed The 8 Best Resistance Bands of 2023 Best for Deep Self-Myofascial Release 321 STRONG Foam Roller - Medium Density Deep Tissue Massager Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On 321strong.com Why We Like It: With a moderate density that feels firm yet soft, this roller can help less experienced rollers find relief, and advanced rollers work soft tissue and sensitive body parts. It’s Worth Noting: The length could be limiting when working hamstrings and other large muscle groups. When you want to give yourself a massage that feels like you’ve just been on a pro’s table, this roller may be the answer. Designed to help relax muscles that feel tight after repetitive motions like running and hiking, this roller’s grooves dig in deep like fingers during a massage. This roller’s medium-density foam grips well against a yoga mat but doesn’t stick to bare, sweaty skin. The construction shows two seams, but they weren’t irritating during testing. The combination of small knobs and larger flat portions enhance this foam roller’s versatility and makes it easy to shift on the roller and target delicate areas. Weighing just a pound and coming in just over a foot long, this roller can be easily transported and stored. Price at time of publication: $27 Product Details: Shape: CylinderLength: 12.75 inchesDiameter: 5.25 inchesTexture: 3D gridDensity: MediumFeatures: Technique and exercise pamphlet, downloadable ebook Best Deep Tissue LuxFit Premium High-Density Foam Roller 4.8 Amazon View On Walmart View On Luxfitproducts.com Why We Like It: The width and length keep you higher off the ground and give you the flexibility to access muscles from different angles. It’s Worth Noting: It may be too intense for beginners. Long, wide, and dense, LuxFit’s Premium roller presents a smooth, extra-firm surface and plenty of space to work from various angles. In testing, it proved well-designed for getting after tight areas in deep tissue. The 6-inch diameter means less effort when leaning into the roller to target tight muscles, and the roller’s weight made it possible to roll slowly and evenly across its surface. As we tested, we felt this was the most effective foam roller of the bunch and was comparable to getting an acupuncture massage. Even our feet felt less tight, with one of our editors feeling less plantar fascia pain after a week of use. However, we have to admit that the intensity may be too much for some people, so it’s only ideal for experienced rollers or anyone who really needs deep tissue work. Price at time of publication: $40 Product Details: Shape: CylinderLength: 36 inchesDiameter: 6 inchesTexture: SmoothDensity: Extra firmFeatures: Not listed Best Gentle OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Density Foam Roller 4.6 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Optp.com Why We Like It: The softness of this roller lets you limit pressure when you need a gentle stretch and massage of sore muscles. It’s Worth Noting: You can’t actually “roll” on this roller due to its shape. Our favorite gentle foam roller doesn’t roll at all. Instead of rolling slowly across it, the best technique is to lay on it and let your body relax into the foam as your muscles expand. Its half-moon shape makes it stable and comfortable, so test sessions felt more like gentle stretching than intense foam rolling. The width of this roller helps it fit along your spine and provides shoulder support. It may also come in handy for balance and stability exercises. If you're experienced with foam rolling, you may be surprised by the subtle work of this model. We liked how it felt along the vertebrae, back, and neck, especially on low-energy evenings that made a long foam rolling session uninviting. We found that this roller couldn’t be easier to use—if you can lay flat, you can use it. Price at time of publication: $30 Product Details: Shape: Half-cylinderLength: 36 inchesDiameter: 3 inches tall by 6 inches wideTexture: SmoothDensity: SoftFeatures: Not listed Best Trigger Point Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls for Myofascial Release 4.4 Amazon View On Amazon Why We Like It: Just a little gentle pressure on these tiny, hard balls can provide relief in small, hard-to-reach areas. It’s Worth Noting: It may take a little more effort to find the right spot that needs relief. Long, cylindrical foam rollers can be great for getting after larger muscles, but sometimes small and targeted efforts create the best effect. That’s why we included Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls in our tests and deemed them ideal for pinpointing where muscles felt tight or sore. These balls are much harder compared with foam rollers and have a grippy rubber surface. However, their size can make them unstable and prone to slipping out and rolling away. We particularly liked that we could use these after finishing a foam rolling session to focus on still-tight areas. It just took gentle body weight pressure to feel a difference, and muscles felt looser even after one session. And while we think they're good for tackling tight knots, they are small, so you have to know exactly where to place them to find relief. Price at time of publication: $12 Product Details: Shape: RoundLength: 2.5 inchesDiameter: 2.5 inchesTexture: SmoothDensity: FirmFeatures: Two balls Best Travel Brazyn Morph Collapsible Foam Roller 4.6 Amazon View On Amazon View On Brazynlife.com Why We Like It: This roller was easy to use, provided gentle pressure, and collapsed to fit in about the same suitcase space as a pair of jeans. It’s Worth Noting: When expanding this roller to its full shape, the end disks need to lock into place against their stoppers to ensure it doesn’t collapse under your body weight. If we could describe this roller in a single word, it would be “pleasant.” Its firm yet cushioned surface felt responsive in testing. It performed as well as traditional foam rollers yet has the bonus of collapsing flat so that it is easier to take with you. Even though the initial impression was that it didn’t deeply work large muscles, we felt looser and more relaxed after a week of daily use. Plus, because it felt so great and gave a gentle stretch without causing pain or soreness, we realized we were more likely to use it every day. Thumb-sized nubs relieved tension in the upper and lower body without creating soreness, and our tester appreciated the accompanying booklet’s sequences, ranging from morning stretching to postrace self-massage. Price at time of publication: $70 Product Details: Shape: CylinderLength: 14.5 inchesDiameter: 5.5 inchesTexture: GridDensity: FirmFeatures: Collapsible, travel pouch, technique, and exercise booklet Our Testing Process First, we spoke to experts to determine the benefits of foam rolling and what makes for a quality foam roller. Experts we spoke to include: Kathleen Ingalls, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy with her own practice in Montana Janeen Miller, MS, CPT, CES, a wellness coordinator and exercise physiologist in cardiac rehabilitation for Providence St. Joseph Hospital Orange in California Theresa Marko, PT, DPT, MS, a board-certified orthopedic physical therapist & Certified Early Intervention Specialist with over 20 years of experience. To find our top picks, we tried out various foam rollers at home and while traveling. After the first rolling session on each roller, we recorded our impressions of the following areas: texture, density, muscle tightness, and muscle soreness. After a week of daily use, we noted whether we felt looser, more relaxed, and more agile with fewer pain points or knots. What to Know About Foam Rollers Who Should Use a Foam Roller Foam rollers have become popular partly because they can benefit everyone, from office workers and delivery drivers to gym goers and Olympic athletes. “Foam rolling is a very effective, important part of any workout,” says Janeen Miller, MS, CPT, CES, a wellness coordinator and exercise physiologist in cardiac rehabilitation for Providence St. Joseph Hospital Orange in California. Dr. Ingalls advises against rolling on sites of acute fracture or hematoma and areas swollen with edema or chronic swelling that "pits" when touched. She also recommends working with a physical therapist, personal trainer, or another expert until you grasp the purpose and technique of foam rolling and understand the sensations it can cause. “The pressure from a foam roll should not hurt us,” Dr. Ingalls says. “Too many people buy [foam rollers], hearing they are good, and then cause unnecessary pain when attempting to use one for the first time. Then all you have is a new dust collector in your home.” Price Foam rollers range widely in price, especially as you start adding special features like custom shapes and vibrators. The ones we tested ranged from around $20 for a basic design up to $150 for a battery-powered vibrating options. Between these extremes, prices fall closer together, so it’s worth looking for the features you want before comparing price tags. Types of Foam Rollers Most foam rollers are cylindrical, although variations include half-rounds and balls. Some are made of solid foam, but others might have a foam layer wrapped around a hard, hollow core. Firmness varies from ultrasoft to extra firm, and lengths typically range from 12 to 36 inches. If you explore our top choices, you’ll find different diameters, foam material, and textures too. Special features may include nubbed or contoured surfaces, low weight or an easy-to-pack design for travel, and battery-powered vibration. Foam Density Dr. Ingalls views foam density as a progression and starts clients new to this exercise on soft and smooth rollers. As you advance, firm yet smooth foam may be more effective, but you’ll want some experience before working on a stiff, knobby roller that can be used on trigger points or muscles with knots. “My advice is to start with the soft, smooth roller, meet your tissue where it is at, and progress if you would like to,” Dr. Ingalls says. Size and Shape When choosing the size and shape of a foam roller, experience and intent both come into play. For Dr. Ingalls, the sweet spot is short yet thick: “Primary use of a 12-inch long, 6-inch diameter roll will cover the entire musculoskeletal system,” she says. When helping her hospital clients pick a foam roller, Miller favors a 36-inch length for full-body self-myofascial release, a smaller roller for travelers, and a more stable half-round roller for those concerned about balance and strength. Texture For foam rollers, the texture often goes hand in hand with density. Smooth foam, starting soft and gradually increasing in firmness, will be more comfortable for most people as they learn how to best incorporate a foam roller into their daily routine. Miller explains that textured rollers are designed to provide a deeper massage with trigger point therapy to muscles, but they can often be painful. If you’re new to foam rolling, you may want to start out with a smoother roller. More Foam Rollers to Consider While these foam rollers didn't fully meet our expectations, they may still be of interest to you: Lifepro 4-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller: We felt like the intense vibrations of this foam roller compare to a massage gun, and we believe it could be as effective. Still, the high price tag made us prefer a more traditional foam roller and a separate massage gun over this all-in-one solution. OPTP Pro Soft Roller: Easy and comfortable to use, this soft roller could be the right choice for beginners. Ultimately, we found it too soft to go after sore areas and knots developed during boxing workouts but helpful in encouraging flexibility. Gaiam Restore Deep Tissue Muscle Massage Foam Roller: The firm foam ridges of this roller were effective but quite uncomfortable until we adjusted to them. The shortness also required good balance, especially with the iliotibial band (the muscle tissue on the outer thigh) stretches. Your Questions, Answered Is it OK to foam roll every day? You can use a foam roller daily—in fact, you’ll likely need to roll consistently for several days to feel a significant change. “Personally, I use a foam roll every evening to undo everything I do in my day,” Dr. Ingalls says. “Get ready for tomorrow by undoing today's tension is my motto.” While foam rolling is often seen as a post-workout practice, it can also help after static and repetitive motion, like driving, watching TV, knitting, or playing an instrument. How long should you foam roll for? When you first start foam rolling, Dr. Ingalls recommends spending three minutes rolling slowly over each site to relax and change the chemistry of each muscle. In time, you may pass over some sites in 30 seconds but want 10 minutes to relax in another area. “The guarantee is that as you progress, you will feel better physically, but it all hinges on your understanding of what you are rolling on, why you are rolling, and how you are rolling,” Dr. Ingalls says. Is foam rolling the same as myofascial release? Foam rollers can provide self-myofascial release, as can therapy balls and roller massagers. Using your body weight to apply controlled pressure can release tension in muscle tissue and improve blood flow. A 2022 study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science found that self-myofascial release using tools like foam rollers can increase the range of motion and decrease soreness but reported no benefit with increased discomfort. Dr. Ingalls agrees, noting that if your body initially recognizes a foam roller’s pressure as painful, that sensation will lessen with time. She explains that the pain will eventually become a tolerable tool you can use to guide you toward the areas that need to be relieved before your condition gets worse. Can a foam roller help prevent injury or relieve sore muscles? People often aim for muscle relief when using a foam roller, but studies have found it can also help prevent injuries. A study at University of Frankfurt, published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, found foam rolling could reduce muscle fatigue after exercise, improving performance and decreasing the risk of injury. Rolling before and after working out was found to be equally effective. How long should a foam roller last? Material and density play the biggest roles in how long a foam roller lasts. A soft, open-cell roller will eventually break down. Once it starts to collapse and lose its cylindrical shape, it is time to replace it. Closed-cell and rubber rollers may never need replacing, even after daily use. Dr. Ingalls says she has been using the same firm, closed-cell, textured roller for 13 years. Who We Are Julie Laing has been a writer and editor for 25-plus years and enjoys exploring how health, movement, and food intersect. Professionally, she is a cookbook author, food columnist, recipe developer, and product tester. Personally, she prefers yoga and other physical activities that let her stretch and strengthen using her own body weight and travel under her own steam. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit 2 Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Ferreira RM, Martins PN, Goncalves RS. Effects of Self-myofascial Release Instruments on Performance and Recovery: An Umbrella Review. Int J Exerc Sci. 2022 Jun 1;15(3):861-883. Fleckenstein J, Wilke J, Vogt L, Banzer W. Preventive and Regenerative Foam Rolling are Equally Effective in Reducing Fatigue-Related Impairments of Muscle Function following Exercise. J Sports Sci Med. 2017 Dec 1;16(4):474-479.