Foam rollers can be game-changing. Real talk. From massage rollers to exercise rollers, they can be the difference between smashing a week of home workouts and winding up with DOMS so deadly you can barely walk after day one.
If you’re on the fence (perhaps you've tried a foam roller for a few minutes at the end of a gym workout before), then read on for everything you need to know about the recovery and mobility tool, including the benefits of foam rolling. The whole package! Let's get into it.
What is a foam roller?
Put simply, a foam roller (sometimes termed a 'massage roller', 'muscle roller' or occasionally a 'back roller') is a cylinder typically made of compressed foam.
In recent years, the recovery method has gone from a habit reserved for athletes, to common practice amongst runners and workout fiends. Some foam rollers are smooth and some are textured. Put simply, different designs offer varying levels of muscle massage.
As PT and founder of The Workshop Gymnasium, Lee Mullins explains: 'This simple tube can also improve mobility, prevent injuries and decrease fascia adhesions', further adding that foam rolling regularly is 'as close as you can get to daily physio or massage appointments'. (The next best thing? A massage gun. Here's WH's top picks.)
What are the benefits of foam rolling?
Releases muscle and fascial tissue
Quicker recovery between workouts
Increased range of motion
Can increase feelings of relaxation
What type of foam roller is best?
Foam rollers are an affordable and accessible way to gift yourself some pre-workout mobility and flexibility or post-workout myofascial release, increase blood flow to repair muscles and reduce soreness.
While there are varying sizes, shapes and areas to roll, one thing's for sure – anything that can mimic a deep-tissue massage, promote better recovery from workouts and can be bought at a number of price points is a winner.
The best type for you will depend on what you're looking for, so think about what you need.
Smooth foam rollers are best for beginners, textured (with knobs or ridges) are best if you want to get deeper into the muscle.
The length of your foam roller is largely personal preference, although shorter ones can be easier to transport.
17 best foam rollers to buy now
These foam rollers are our edit of the very best foam rollers. We've highlighted their best assets.
Best back massage roller
1. Lululemon double foam roller mini
Best vibrating foam roller
2. Hyperice Vyper 2.0 foam roller
Best trigger point foam roller
3. TriggerPoint Grid Roller
Best yoga roller
4. Yoga-Mad foam roller
Best grid foam roller
5. TriggerPoint GRID2.0 foam roller with instructional online videos
Best long foam roller
6. Gaiam Muscle Therapy foam roller
Best soft foam roller
7. BLACKROLL standard foam roller
Best core balance foam roller
8. Core Balance foam roller
Best cheap foam roller
9. ResultSport foam roller with exercise book and A3 poster
Best foam roller set
10. Blackroll Unisex adult foam roller set
Best textured foam roller
11. Fitness-Mad foam roller with tread pattern
Best trigger point foam roller set
12. ELVIRE foam roller massage set
Best smart foam roller
13. Therabody Wave Roller™ Smart Foam Roller™
Best foam roller for runners
14. Umi by Amazon foam roller
Best foam roller for back pain
15. KG Physio foam roller
Best collapsible foam roller
16. ICCO Pro adjustable and collapsible foam roller
Best fitness foam roller
17. NRG trigger point foam roller
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