A Definitive Guide: Selecting the Best Foam Roller
Why Do You Need a Foam Roller?
Before I dive into helping you select a foam roller I want to address the main two reasons why you should be using a foam roller.
- Reduce injuries. Warming up with a foam roller, can greatly reduce the severity and likely hood of injury. A foam roller will activate the muscles and begin to pump blood through.
- Decrease recovery times. Using a foam roller after exercising will mimic a deep tissue massage. This has two benefits. Improved blood flow, which helps carry nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and the removal of toxins.
Foam Roller Guide
There are very few guides online so I created this page to help you select the best foam roller possible.
Essentially, there are three types of generic foam rollers: Polyethylene EPE foam rollers,EVA foam rollers and moulded foam rollers.
From there we get into the brand specific foam rollers, which tend to outlast and outperform their generic counterparts: Trigger Point: The Grid foam Roller, Rumbleroller and the Pro Unit.
Foam Roller Breakdown
|EPE Foam Roller||$24.99 + S&H||Pool Noodle||Generic EPE Foam Rollers are of a low quality, but they are relatively inexpensive. They're an excellent introductory foam roller|
|EVA Foam Roller||$12.99 - $52.94 + S&H||Smooth||EVA Foam Rollers will last longer than an EPE Foam roller. They're slightly more expensive, but they generally last twice as long.|
|Molded Foam||$24.99 + S&H||Smooth||Molded foam rollers are relatively new. They're a better option than an EPE foam roller. They'll last longer and they have a similar price point.|
|Rumbleroller||$44.95 - $175.03 + S&H||Smooth, Small Flat Square Ridges||Rumblerollers are the most intense roller on the market. If you're new to foam rollers, stay clear. Rumble rollers can target hard to reach areas like hips and shoulders better than the competition.|
|Trigger Point - The Grid 2.0||$64.94 - $100.73 + S&H||Smooth, Small Flat Square||The best foam roller currently on the market. They're incredibly durable and the contours help to provide a better roll than the generic brands.|
|Muscle Stick||$25.56 + S&H||Small Ridges||The muscle stick is perfect for traveling. While it's not as effective as a standard 12" foam roller it's great when you're constantly on the road.|
In order to select the best foam roller for your needs ask yourself the following questions;
1) How often do you plan on using your foam roller?
I primarily do my rolling at the gym, so my EVA roller has stood the test of time. If you’re using your foam roller several times a week avoid purchasing a generic EPE foam roller or an EVA roller. Both of these will quickly elongate and begin to oval.If you plan on using a foam roller daily I would spend the money and purchase either The Grid or a Rumble Roller. I’ve used everything from The Grid, the Rumbleroller and all three types generic rollers, the Grid remains the most versatile foam roller on the market.
2) How long have you been foam rolling for?
Although it varies from person to person, if you’ve just started using a foam roller chances are it hurts like hell. If you fall under this category you can start with a standard EPE foam roller. These aren’t very dense and will start to break down scar tissue and lengthen your muscles. As your scar tissue breaks down so will your EPE foam roller at which time you can opt to upgrade to a superior foam roller such as a Rumbleroller or the Triggerpoint 2.0 Grid.
3) What area are you planning on foam rolling?
I use two rollers depending on which area I’m targeting. Nothing is better than the Rumbleroller for hit hard to reach areas such as your hip flexors or your shin muscles. The grooves can target those areas far more efficiently than any of the other options on the market place. That said, the Rumbleroller is highly ineffective for rolling large muscles, such as your IT Band, which require longer “strokes”. The reason being is that the Rumbleroller doesn’t roll as effectively due to it’s bumps, it’s easier to roll with a perfectly round roller.
This is an important question you need to ask yourself, what is your budget? Purchasing a cheap foam roller is significantly better than avoiding them all together. Foam rollers start in the $10-$15 range and as a result it’s a relatively cost effective way to experience the benefits of deep tissue massage in the comfort of your home. If you’re active and can afford to spend more you will certainly find a more expensive roller a great investment.
Individual Foam Roller Reviews
The Pro Unit 5 in 1 Training System Review
The Pro Unit 5 in 1 Training system is essentially a workout swiss army knife, it contains a foam roller, push up handles, ab roller and fitness straps all in a 10 pound weighted shell. I make use of the straps immediately after using a foam roller. The push handles and ab roller are great for getting a workout in when you don’t have time to hit the gym! if you order today and use the promo code: “ProDiscountRF” you’ll receive an additional $39.95 off of the original sale price.
I decided to review the EPE, EVA and Moulded foam roller together because they’re all quite similar. You can buy these foam rollers in a variety of lengths and sizes, the most common being 6″ X 36″. These foam rollers are relatively inexpensive and a great introduction to foam rolling. If you’re finding that you begin rolling on a daily basis you’ll quickly notice all three of these options lose shape very quickly. EPE foam rollers are made out of Polyethylene which is used in a variety of manufacture red goods. This type of foam roller breaks down rather quickly and if used consistent enough could be deformed in as little as a month. EVA is a fairly durable foam which allows it to keep it’s shape for a longer period of time relative to EPE foam rollers. They have a glossy finish and are more aesthetically appealing than EPE foam rollers. Moulded Foam Rollers are made out expanded polypropylene, which is a little more rigid and heavy duty than either the EPE or EVA foam roller. Moulded foam is a newer material being used in the Foam Roller industry. If you’re a larger individual these will tend to work better than their counterparts because they won’t deform as much during their day to day usage.
The rumble roller comes in two density, blue (original) and black (x-firm) with black being the denser of the two options. Generally speaking the black option is too firm for most athletes using a foam roller. Unless you have dense muscle mass and a high tolerance to pain the black option wouldn’t be recommended. The rumble roller is the most expensive roller on the market but will outlast any other foam roller on the market. A key distinction with the rumble roller is the square grooves which were designed to feel more like a massage than a conventional roller could achieve. This has added value for some applications including rolling your feet and your hips out. However, I find the square grooves to be a little excessive on larger areas such as your hamstring, IT Band and quadriceps. I use a combination of a rumble roller and a conventional moulded foam roller after working out. The rumble roller is sold in three sizes, standard, compact and extra compact.
The Grid Foam Roller provides a middle ground between the ridges that the rumble roller provides and the smoothness that a conventional foam roller offers. The counters vary over the length of the grid foam roller which helps to target smaller hard to reach areas such as your hips. However, they’re not as large as the rumble roller and are more suitable to rolling the larger areas of your body out as well. The grid is sold in a variety of sizes ranging from a conventional 6″ X 36″ down to a 5″ X 5.5″ mini roller suitable for traveling.
The stick is less effective than any of the conventional foam rollers because you don’t use your body weight. The muscle stick was designed for travel, so unlike a conventional foam roller you don’t actually like on it. Instead you use your arms to roll the muscle stick across your body. For travel, it’s a suitable replacement for a standard foam roller. The other added benefit is it’s effective for targeting hard reach places such as your hip flexors. A word of caution when investigating other options; many of the competing brands are cheaper but they often are flimsy which results in a very poor self myofascial release session.
Now that you have seen the options for the best foam roller on the market, its up to you to pick what meets your needs and is in your price range.
As you know, foam rollers are still relatively and are being created all the time by new and old manufacturers. For that reason, the comparison chart above will be updated as new foam rollers are added to the list. Or if you feel like we missed a superior product that needs to be included on the list, let me know in the comments below!