As massage therapists, we are constantly recommending self-care techniques. One of our favorite methods to recommend is utilizing a foam roller between massage sessions for relieving common aches and pains. In this post, we share our “Foam Roller Buyers Guide”, a guide to some of the best foam rollers out there.
Foam rollers help facilitate stretching, massage sore muscles, aid in injury recovery and are useful props for your athletic practice.
Now that you’ve made the decision to utilize these tools, you must pick a roller to purchase. How hard can it be? It’s a piece of foam. Pretty straight forward, right!?!
Well… You actually may be surprised by the wide array of rollers out there!
There are a lot of factors and options to consider. There’s price, density, length, diameter, and more to ponder when making this seemingly simple decision.
But, no need to fret, I’ve compiled this easy to read “foam roller buyers guide” to steer you in the right direction for your rolling needs.
Foam Roller Buyers Guide
Before we get too far into this guide, we want you to think about your primary use for your roller. This factor will play a significant role in determining the right roller for you!
Some Factors to Consider:
- Do you intend to utilize the roller in your yoga practice?
- Will it primarily be used for passive stretching?
- Do you intend to travel with your roller?
- Will it sit in your spacious workout room?
- What type of massage pressure do you like?
- Will you be using your roller for balancing activities?
The density refers to how firm the roller is. This is arguably one of the most important factors when choosing a foam roller to fit your needs. Typically rollers come in soft, medium, and firm densities.
Soft rollers are a little more forgiving. They have a bit more of a cushiony feel. For folks with sensitive muscles or who don’t enjoy a real deep massage, these rollers create a less intense experience. Ideal for someone with fibromyalgia or other body sensitivities.
Medium rollers have universal appeal. Their versatile nature makes them good for self-massage as well as props for yoga and Pilates. A good beginner roller.
Firm rollers are good for those seeking a more in-depth, intense experience. They often appeal to athletes and other active individuals.
Shape and Size –
The typical foam roller that comes to most people’s minds is 36″ in length and 6″ in diameter. However, this is not the only size and shape that rollers come in. Depending on your intended use, you may find that a different combination suits your needs.
The width or the diameter of a roller can vary. While typically 6″, there are 4″ diameters rollers as well. Because they are closer to the ground, they provide less of a balancing obstacle and thus are ideal for folks recovering from injuries or the elderly.
While longer rollers are ideal for a wide variety of applications, you may consider a shorter roller if you are short on space or if you intend to travel with your roller. Typically rollers are 36″ long, but they also come in the smaller 18″ or 12″ size as well.
Half Moon –
While the standard roller is a full circle, some rollers are only half circles. This design is also good for the elderly and people in physical therapy recovering from injuries. These rollers have less risk involved than the full circles because they are easier to balance on.
Ridge or Bumps –
These rollers provide a bit deeper massage experience. They help more effectively break up fascial restrictions than their smooth counterparts.
Foam rollers can range significantly in price. You can get some for $9 and some for $190. In my experience, the $9 ones are often just as effective as the $190 ones. It’s all a matter of what your rolling goals happen to be.
My Foam Rolling Recommendations
Simple/Inexpensive – This is a good basic roller. It’s versatile and great for beginning rollers. With no extra bells and whistles, it’s the simple and practical choice.High-Density – This high-density roller is great for the more advanced roller or extreme athlete. It comes in four lengths, making it a good choice to bring on your next outdoor adventure. Shorty – With massaging bumps, this shorty provides both the travel capability and the deep massage attributes athletes appreciate.
Semi-firm – Coming in two lengths, this is a quality semi-firm roller than will stand the test of time and last for years to come! Half-Round – This half-round roller is the perfect rehabilitation aid for those recovering from an injury.Smaller diameter – With a 4″ diameter, this roller keeps you closer to the ground, reducing your risk of injury. Perfect for an older population! Soft – This durable roller was designed for those with a higher sensitivity level. If you are the type who doesn’t like deep pressure, this is the roller for you.
Massaging – The “rumble roller” was designed to manipulate soft tissue, just like a massage therapist. Vibrating – With three vibration levels, this is the Cadillac of foam rollers. It penetrates deeper and more effectively into sore, achy muscles. It’s lightweight and has 2+ hours of vibration per use. Eco-Friendly – This cork roller is the eco-friendly choice for your rolling needs.
Dual Purpose – Now how cool is this one. A water bottle/roller, this is great for runners and climbers alike.
Collapsable – The ultimate roller for those on the go. You can collapse this roller to flat and pack it like nobodies business! Now that we’ve given you some options to consider, until you come in to see us for your next massage, get rolling, your body will thank you!