Best Foam Rollers of 2021
|Price||$34.95 at REI||$100 List|
$99.99 at Amazon
$69.95 at Amazon
$99.96 at Amazon
$28.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Great topography, super durable, affordable, exceptional ergonomics||Awesome topography, great vibration settings, user-friendly, durable, great ergonomics||Ideal for travel, excellent topography, great foam density, good ergonomics||Neoprene sleeve to add heat, varied topography, user-friendly interface||Softer than other rollers, well-designed surface texture, solid ergonomics|
|Cons||Might be too firm for some||More expensive, might be too firm for some people||More expensive than simpler choices||May be too technical for just basic foam rolling needs||Less durable|
|Bottom Line||We would recommend this roller to most users, from first timers to the most limber among us||This small, perfectly textured, and ergonomic vibrating roller will help loosen your muscles after those hard workouts||We love that we can pack this beautifully textured roller flat for easy transportation||A unique roller that is chock full of techy features that we love, but aren't sure we need for the high price tag||A surprisingly delightful foam roller that delivers everything except the durability we crave|
|Rating Categories||TriggerPoint Grid||Premvida Arrow Vibr...||Brazyn Morph Collap...||LifePro Surger Pro||321Strong Medium De...|
|Foam Density (25%)|
|Specs||TriggerPoint Grid||Premvida Arrow Vibr...||Brazyn Morph Collap...||LifePro Surger Pro||321Strong Medium De...|
|Weight||29.10 oz||47.80 oz||24.62 oz||46.17 oz||11.92 oz|
|Material||EVA foam, hollow core||Foam||Foam||Neoprene||EVA|
The TriggerPoint Grid is one of the most popular self-massage tools in recent memory. These rollers can be seen everywhere, from physical therapists' offices to the gym and in the homes of many athletes and weekend warriors. Its popularity was earned by it being a versatile and durable tool for self-care — characteristics we attribute to its unique design. It has a hollow core, made possible by .2" of hard plastic tube surrounded by a half-inch of multi-density EVA foam. This foam resists breaking down over time, and that, mixed with the rigid hollow core, makes this one of the most durable rollers we've had the pleasure of using. The topographical features of the TriggerPoint roller are modest but just right. The surface texture strikes a perfect middle ground between being super bumpy and completely smooth. Combined with the harder sections of foam and tight diameter of 5.35", these features allow you to pinpoint specific muscle groups. This stellar roller weighs in at 1.8 pounds, and at a length of just under 13", it travels pretty well. Our experience has shown that everyone, from beginners to the most experienced athletes, enjoys this roller.
We found that the relatively short length of the TriggerPoint made it slightly less versatile than others we tested. Those with broad shoulders may find it a little too narrow to roll out their backs. People looking for a firm roller also might find that the TriggerPoint isn't firm enough for their more intense foam rolling sessions. That said, the foam that coats the hollow role isn't as firm as some, but it also isn't especially soft. We think it hits just right, but this, of course, is completely subjective based upon what your body craves. Those criticisms aside, we feel this is the best roller for the widest variety of people and needs.
Of the vibrating foam rollers we tested, the Premvida Arrow was our favorite, without question. With its intuitive and beefy three-position dial, controlling the three levels of vibration is simple. This interface was the most user-friendly we saw in our collection of rollers. The extra firm EVA foam exterior features dual massage zones to tailor your experience further. The vibrations, combined with the moderate 6" diameter, help to further release tight and stubborn muscle groups. The battery lasted us two hours and 44 minutes on full power during our testing. The charging port is tucked under a removable cover, protecting it from becoming contaminated by sweat, dust, or the dog hair that might reside on your floor. Premvida provides a one-year warranty for registered products, which is a great bonus.
There were a couple of things that we didn't like about the Premvida Arrow. First, we found it a little undersized for those testers with wider backs. That said, since it is a vibrating roller, we didn't feel as inclined to recline with it horizontally across the back. Of course, it all comes down to individual preference, but we personally don't love the sensation of our spinal cords vibrating. Secondly, we wish there was a built-in battery indicator, as you need to plug it in to find out the current battery level. Our main gripe, however, is how loud it is. At an average of 75 dBa, it is very noticeable and even distracting. The Arrow is also on the pricier side, but if you are looking for a massage tool with the ability to go deep, we think you'll be glad you paid up.
The AmazonBasics High-Density lives up to the branding — basic. But when basic and functional gear is available for an affordable price, we love to indulge. This roller uses molded polypropylene and is the firmest foam roller we tested; it also holds up well under pressure, earning it a high score in our durability metric. It's completely smooth with no topographical features and comes in four lengths: 12", 18", 24" and 36". We tested the 36" and found it to be a great length for most exercises, though it can be awkward to use in smaller spaces. Still, this back to basics approach is straightforward and easy to use. Because it is a standard roller, it is very ergonomically effective and versatile in its simplicity.
The AmazonBasics roller can be a bit more slippery than rollers that boast bigger nodules across their surfaces. Ultimately, the smoother surface might slide a bit across your hardwoods, but it doesn't detract from the overall usability. If you are looking for a simple, affordable, and user-friendly product, you cannot go wrong with this standard roller.
The Brazyn Morph Collapsible utilizes a clever and simple system to pack flat in just a few seconds. We were dubious of the mechanism's stability even though Brazyn claims it will support 350 pounds. In an effort to test this, we jumped on it repeatedly and even laid two adults on it simultaneously, and it didn't buckle. It's constructed from bamboo, recycled aluminum, and recycled foam, and we appreciate the use of recycled materials and renewable resources like bamboo. When this roller is folded flat, it's just over 14" long by 6.5" wide and 1.9" tall. When it's ready to use, we found its length a perfect size for us; it's wide enough to roll out the upper back efficiently while still being packable. The latex-free EVA foam also inspires confidence in the longevity of this product. Our favorite thing about the Brazyn Collapsible is the versatile topography. The exterior is soft enough for use on more sensitive areas but firm enough to get into the knots in your meaty quads if that is what your body needs.
We found that users new to the Brazyn Morph had a tendency to only partially open the foam roller, and as such, we recommend checking to make sure it's fully deployed. This isn't something that takes away from this roller's ability to loosen knots, but it is something to be aware of. Furthermore, due to the paneled design devised for collapsibility, this model does not roll as smoothly as others we tested. But, if you often find yourself on the go looking for an easy-to-pack roller, we highly recommend adding this one into rotation.
The Invincible Fitness set includes a whole crew of goodies to help you loosen your muscular knots, no matter where they reside. The main roller is made of chemical-free expanded polypropylene foam and is virtually odorless upon arrival. It is of medium density compared to the other rollers in our roundup and on the smaller side, stretching to only 12" in length with a 6" height profile. We love that this affordable set also includes a standard massage ball, a peanut ball, a muscle roller stick, three resistance bands, and a 96" strap with 12 loops for stretching. Amazing.
The topography of the Invincible Fitness foam roller is bland; it does not have any unique features across its smooth surface. The medium-density foam is also not as durable as higher-density options, but we do love that it is chemical-free. If you are looking for a burly foam roller, the Invincible Fitness roller won't be for you. If you are new to foam rolling and want to try it out in conjunction with other self-massage tools, this bundle cannot be beaten — especially for the price.
Why You Should Trust Us
Ally Arcuri leads this review armed with a lot of therapeutic exercise knowledge. Ally worked in a physical therapy clinic in South Lake Tahoe for 6 years before relocating to San Luis Obispo to encourage people through therapeutic exercise routines. She is an accomplished runner, professional yoga teacher, and an overall fitness enthusiast with a degree in exercise kinesiology. She believes that the key to physical success lies in balancing strength, endurance, and mobility.
Jason Peters, our other tester, has spent years training as a national-level rock climber. After his competition career, he transitioned into training youth athletes. With such strenuous training programs, recovery is a huge component of staying healthy. Foam rolling is a key element to Jason's recovery program; he has spent hundreds of hours working with foam rollers.
We considered over 40 rollers before buying the top contenders to test in our office filled with athletes. We had skiers, mountain bikers, runners, and rock climbers test these rollers for dozens of hours. We utilized a consistent, full-body rolling routine targeting most major muscle groups to give us a full picture of each model's performance. We also consulted personal trainers and physical therapists to hone down how they use foam rollers with different clients.
Analysis and Test Results
Your experience level and intended use will help you define which of these tools is best for you. Be honest with yourself about what you need in a roller. Though there are many uses for these tools, the most common is simply as a self-massage aid. As your muscles grow tight after a hard workout or just sleeping a bit funny, it is recommended that you roll out that muscle group to help it recover and break up the fascia adhesion. You can also use these versatile tools as balance trainers or as general home exercise equipment. All in all, foam rollers are fairly inexpensive tools that offer great returns to almost everyone who employs them.
There are many factors to consider in choosing the right roller for you; length, ergonomics, topography, foam density, durability, and other features. Let's break it all down.
We always purchase our gear for full-price and test it without considering the price tag. Only once we have scored each item across our board of metrics do we revisit its cost. This helps us ensure that we are providing unbiased, relevant information to you.
Value and durability go hand-in-hand, in our opinion. It doesn't seem worth it to spend your hard-earned money on a foam roller, or anything else, that isn't going to hold up through a variety of imposed demands. With foam rollers, value was actually a fairly tricky thing to assess. Some rollers are super soft and offer a more beginner-friendly approach to rolling. However, those products are often the ones that do not hold up because they lack the foam density of burlier options. These rollers tend to be a bit less expensive because of the simple support they provide.
The Amazon Basics and 321Strong rollers are two of our favorite values. Both offer versatility for an affordable price, though the Amazon Basics roller outshines the 321Stong in terms of durability. Versatility is important when it comes to value as well. We love knowing that we are spending our money on items that can be employed in various ways. In that vein, the Invincible Fitness set knocks it out of the park because the otherwise simple roller comes with a plethora of other fitness and self-care tools. The top-scoring TriggerPoint Grid is also a tremendous value. It's a few more dollars upfront but is highly durable and effective.
Ergonomics is essentially the science of ensuring that a thing is designed so that human bodies can use it efficiently and safely. The ergonomics of a foam roller are the most important factor when it comes to using them, which is why we chose to weight this metric more heavily than the others.
To determine the ergonomic fortitude of each roller, we tested each one at length on specific body parts. We took notes about how our bodies felt as they melted over the shapes of the rollers. We assessed how well each roller was able to penetrate our tissues to get deep into our fascia. The easier it was to assess and loosen muscle groups across the board, the higher the roller scored in this category.
For example, the TriggerPoint Grid offers great ergonomics because of its size and shape. Those two elements combine to make this roller excellent for almost every body part you would want to roll out. On the flip side, more unique rollers tend to have less wide-reaching ergonomic properties. Throughout our testing, we found that the simple rollers, such as the AmazonBasics and 321Strong offered better ergonomics than more niche options like the Epitomie Fitness VIBRA.
Our ultimate choice when it comes to ergonomics is the Invincible Fitness bundle. While the foam roller itself leaves a bit to be desired, the sheer amount of differently-shaped tools covers all the ergonomic bases. Each tool included in this bundle is specifically designed to serve one or more areas of your body.
Foam density is another key factor in the feel of your roller. While there are exceptions, generally, the softer the foam, the more gentle your foam roller will be. The downside to soft foam is that it tends to break down faster and will need to be replaced sooner.
The softest foam roller (and, indeed, the most gentle) was the Gaiam Restore. This is the only roller we tested that employed jersey knit foam and was by far the easiest on our weary muscles. While by no means pillowy, the Restore is gentle enough for beginners to use with ease. We loved using it to roll out our tighter-than-average IT bands since it offers a more gentle touch than other options. It is an affordable choice for anyone looking to perform self-massage with an eye for therapeutics. This roller scores low in this metric and in durability precisely because of these traits, but don't let that deter you if you need something more gentle for recovery or to help you work up to something firmer on particularly tender areas.
In our opinion, the Brazyn Morph and the 321Strong are the best densities for most people looking for a roller. A little firmer than those two is the TriggerPoint Grid. We found the TriggerPoint a bit too firm for a beginner's first couple of rolling sessions, but it is by far the most versatile of densities. Its foam is actually one of the softest we tested, but there is not much of it before getting to the rigid core. This helps you manipulate your body weight on the roller to get the experience you need most.
The firmest roller in our testing was the Premvida Arrow. Is it like rolling on a PVC pipe? Not quite, but it is not at all gentle. A step softer than that is the LifePro Surger Pro, another vibrating option. However, the slightly softer surface doesn't feel that way if you turn the vibrations up too high. In general, we found that vibrating rollers tend to be a lot harder because of the hardware needed to execute the technological demands of the vibrations. Even those covered in soft foam have less give because of how hard their centers are.
The Epitomie Fitness VIBRA is another vibrating option that offers excellent high-density EVA foam. Its interface is easy to read via color-coded lights, and the vibration settings are less noisy than other motorized options.
Topography simply refers to the ridges, grooves, and knobs that the surface of the roam roller features. Depending on your needs and preferences, this can be pretty interesting to experiment with and, if you can afford it, it's nice to have several options in your self-care kit. Ultimately, which topography is right for you all depends on how deep of a massage you are looking for. If you have tight muscles and are just working your way into your foam rolling journey, we recommend starting out with a medium-density foam roller with smooth topographical features. Knobs and textures can dig deep into tight fascia, but sometimes this can be too painful if you are just starting out.
If you think that a smooth roller might be too smooth and a harder, grooved roller might be too much, fear not — we have some options for you, Goldilocks! Our favorite middle-of-the-road roller, topographically speaking, is the Brazyn Morph Collapsible. It offers a cohesively textured surface and a bit of squish to truly split the difference between the rollers with thick knobs versus no knobs. Overall, this option provided us with everything we wanted out of a foam roller. The thumb-print-style divets can penetrate into sore muscles, but if you lighten your pressure, you can get by with a softer self-massage experience.
The TriggerPoint Grid also offers a balanced experience. The modest topography helps find those deeper knots while remaining a foam roller you'll want to use every day. The gentle features mixed with multi-density foam and a rigid hollow core make it one of the most versatile rollers we tested.
If you are looking for something with a bit more oomph, we recommend the Premvida Arrow roller. The topography of this roller is varied enough to offer a deep tissue, massage-like experience, but the knobs aren't so big that they feel like knuckles digging into your tender bits.
If you are intrigued by a heated foam roller, the LifePro Surger Pro might be a good choice for you. When used with heat, it has a neoprene sleeve that gives it a soft, unvaried surface texture. You can remove the sleeve to reveal a stiff but interesting surface texture, more equipped to dig deeper into your muscles. We love that this roller offers two different surface textures. And, in addition to this USB-powered heated sleeve that can comfortably reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit, it has a Bluetooth control panel that allows you to change the intensity of the vibration setting without changing positions.
The varied topography of the 321Strong is great for digging into smaller muscle groups or areas where you need more pinpointed attention. It strikes the perfect balance between aggressive and forgiving, making it a great choice for rolling out perpetually sore muscles. The chemical-free EVA foam that makes up the 3D surface is set up to mimic the feeling of a massage therapist's hands.
For beginners, it is important to find the balance between a bit of give and a mushy, worthless roller. This is often best found in a smoother, simpler topography. We really enjoyed the simplicity of the AmazonBasics roller, and we think you'll like it too, especially if smooth topography is more your speed.
In our experience, durability goes hand-in-hand with value. Shelling out cold, hard cash for gear and watching it fall apart or degrade after a few uses doesn't feel good. With this in mind, we took our collection of foam rollers through a rigorous battery of tests to determine how durable they actually are.
In addition to using these foam rollers for standard rolling purposes, we imposed heftier demands to see what these massage tools are truly made of. As you may expect, the softer, less dense rollers are more susceptible to abrasions, and in general, the vibrating rollers are coated in heartier, denser foam. The harder it was to mar each surface, the higher the roller scored in this category.
We found the TriggerPoint Grid to be the most durable because of its resilience beneath our bodies and fingernails. We also love the durability of the foam that coats the Brayzn Morph Collapsible. The foam coating of this travel-friendly roller is tougher than we expected, with no noticeable wear and tear after our testing regimen.
The Premvida Arrow is another that earned high accolades in the durability department. The Arrow is the Navy Seal of foam rollers — tougher than most, doesn't complain under pressure, and promotes deep muscular loosening. The control panel is impressive as well; commonly, we've seen small buttons and finicky toggle switches to change settings on the vibrating rollers. But the Arrow's mechanism is a basic rotating switch that feels strong beneath the fingers.
After hours of foam rolling for this review, we're feeling more limber and ready to train. Now it's time for you to consider your needs for your next massage tool purchase. You'll need to determine what kind of ergonomic support suits you best, what style of topography will best serve your muscle groups, and how much foam density you'd like. Once you figure those things out, it becomes much easier to decide and purchase a tool that will serve you for years to come.
— Ally Arcuri and Jason Peters
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