Best Foam Rollers for Muscle Recovery, Pinpoint Massage, and More

Find the best foam roller for muscle recovery and loosening up pesky knots.

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If only massages weren’t so expensive. A thought that has crossed the mind of many a trainee the day after a heavy lifting session. Thankfully, self myofascial release, the scientific term for self massage, has become an excellent option with the recent innovations in foam rollers. You can now proactively deal with your muscle soreness at home without needing a wad of cash. 

While we may not be able to do anything to drop massage parlor prices, we can help guide you towards the best foam rollers out there on the market. There are now a large array of rollers, each fulfilling different niches and with wide ranging price points, and we’re positive there is an option that fits your needs. 

Best Foam Rollers

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine.

Best Foam Roller Overall

Our pick for best overall roller goes to the GRID. It provides a great balance between hardness and softness, with a solid, hollow core covered by EVA foam. This construction gives it great versatility among novice users and the experienced athlete alike. 

Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller

Aside from the basic features, we love the smartly designed zones of the GRID roller that are designed to mimic the hands of a masseuse. There are flat portions that act similarly to a palm and channelled portions that work more like fingers. The roller is sturdy enough to be integrated into workouts, and there are whole workout programs designed round this roller alone.

Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller
Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller
Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller

Trigger Point GRID foam rollers are popular for many reasons. They're affordable, effective, and have a design that works well for loosening up stiff muscles and aiding recovery. 

Who Should Buy the Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller

  • People who want a versatile foam roller for all kinds of massage. 
  • Buyers looking for a roller that can also be integrated into workouts. 
  • Consumers looking for some different color options for their roller. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller

  • Trainees who want more targeted muscle rolling. 
  • Athletes who want a more advanced roller, like a vibrating roller to help them recover. 

The Trigger Point GRID has something for everyone and is a great purchase if you need to cover all the bases and relieve your muscles. 

Best Foam Roller For Beginners

The simplest of the rollers on this list, the Rogue Foam Rollers are a classic design updated for use with improved materials. The EPP molded foam is easy to keep clean and ensures that they retain their shape well with use. You can choose a shorter 18 inch version if you need something more portable and affordable, or a longer 36 inch if you don’t.

Rogue Foam Roller

One of the workhorses of the gym, these foam rollers are affordable, durable and very versatile. You’ll be able to massage basically any muscle group you want and there are two different density options available: standard with a 1.5lb per cubic foot and ultra firm at 2.8lb per cubic foot.

Rogue Foam Roller
Rogue Foam Roller
Rogue Foam Roller

With a simple design and upgraded construction materials, the Rogue Foam Roller is a no frills, basic roller that will help ease muscles after a hard training day. It's also lightweight and comes in multiple lengths and firmnesses. 

Who Should Buy the Rogue Foam Roller

  • Lifters who want a well priced roller.
  • Athletes who don’t want a super firm roller (go with the standard). 
  • Consumers looking for a reliable roller that is easy to clean. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Rogue Foam Roller

  • Athletes looking for smaller, more easily portable foam rollers.
  • Trainees who need more pinpoint foam rolling. 
  • Buyers who prefer rollers with a less regular surface. 

An upgraded version of the early foam rollers, these are incredibly versatile at home or in the gym and are much more durable than the older generation — well worth a look.

Best Collapsible Foam Roller

There are more gyms and workout destinations for us to travel to than ever before. Now it’s a breeze to find a powerlifting gym, CrossFit gym or even just a well equipped major gym chain virtually anywhere in the world. Hence why having a collapsible foam roller like the Brazyn Morph could be something to look into.

Brazyn Morph

Handbuilt in Germany, these rollers are made from top quality aluminium and bamboo and are tested with loads to over 350lbs. You won’t have to worry about the longevity of this product. There are two different options for surface design, one more gentle and one more intense, and weighing in at only 1.5lbs, you aren’t going to go over your luggage allowance with one in your bag.

Brazyn Morph Foam Roller
Brazyn Morph Foam Roller
Brazyn Morph Foam Roller

The Brazyn Morph foam roller is an excellent choice for road warriors and athletes on the go. It collapses flat and takes up less space than your conventional foam roller. 

Who Should Buy the Brazyn Morph

  • Anyone who needs a super portable foam roller. 
  • Consumers who want an easy to assemble, but durable roller. 
  • Athletes that want a versatile, general purpose roller. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Brazyn Morph

  • Buyers who have a tighter budget. 
  • Trainees who prefer not to have to set up their foam roller. 
  • Lifters that need a more pinpoint foam roller. 

The Morph is the ideal option for those who have minimal space in their gym bag, but want to make sure they can loosen up before training, even if they’re on the road. 

Best Vibrating Foam Roller

Now in it’s 2nd iteration, the Vyper is an obvious innovation to the foam roller. There’s no denying that the vibration feels great and anecdotally, many people feel that it makes a difference loosening up tight muscles compared to non-vibrating models. The question you have to ask yourself is whether it’s worth the price difference. 

Hyperice Vyper 2.0

This roller has two hours of vibration time once it’s lithium ion batteries are charged, and there are three separate modes for different intensities, ranging from 45, up to 92 hertz. Sporting a German engineered polypropylene shell with specially arranged grooves to better transmit vibration, it is even cleared by the TSA. 

Hyperice Vyper 2.0
Hyperice Vyper 2.0
Hyperice Vyper 2.0

The Hyperice Vyper 2.0 takes foam rolling to the next level with its vibrating technology. Set different speeds and pulse intensities to hit sore spots and fatigued muscles exactly where you need to. 

Who Should Buy the Hyperice Vyper 2.0

  • Athletes who want to take their rolling to the next level. 
  • Trainees looking to combine the best of two recovery modalities. 
  • Lifters who want a well built, high tech foam roller. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Hyperice Vyper 2.0

  • Consumers with a tighter budget. 
  • Athletes who want more targeted rolling. 
  • Lifters looking for a smaller, more portable roller. 

The Vyper 2.0 is the pricest roller on this list, but the vibration is potentially a game changer. If you find it helpful and have the cash, this product won’t let you down after an active day. 

Best Foam Roller For Deep Tissue Massage

Sometimes, a large surface area just won’t do. If you need to penetrate into the deeper layers of muscle, you need a more aggressive foam roller like the RumbleRoller. With its specially designed surface that mimics thumb pressure, this roller is very effective at getting into the deeper tissues that can be hard to reach otherwise.

RumbleRoller

With three different lengths available and two different levels of firmness, the RumbleRoller has all your potential needs covered. The original is a good upgrade if your current roller isn’t having quite the same effect you want it to, but the Xfirm is 36% firmer still and should be enough for even the tightest muscles. 

RumbleRoller Foam Roller
RumbleRoller Foam Roller
RumbleRoller Foam Roller

The RumbleRoller is meant for targeting pesky muscles and getting deep into the tissue for maximum massage. The pressure from these rollers is intense and they're capable of working on stubborn knots where other rollers can't reach. 

Who Should Buy the RumbleRoller

  • Athletes who need more intense pressure for muscle recovery. 
  • Trainees who have hard-to-reach knots. 
  • Buyers who want an easy to clean foam roller. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the RumbleRoller

  • Trainees with sensitive skin. 
  • Lifters who want a softer foam roller. 
  • Consumers who need a more portable roller. 

If your current foam roller feels a bit wimpy, or if you just have a really high pain tolerance, then the RumbleRoller is definitely the foam roller to consider on this list. 

Best Handheld Foam Roller

Unlike all the other rollers on this list, the Grid STK roller is a handheld roller. If you train alone, this roller probably won’t be the best purchase, as the design means that it is very difficult to roll out large parts of your body. But if you have a training partner or loving partner willing and able, this roller can really work some magic.

Grid STK Foam Roller

Constructed with the same EVA foam as in the GRID roller, the STK is really well constructed and will not suffer from durability issues. It also has the same smartly designed channels for different kinds of pressure. We love this roller for use on the quads after a squat day. It’s convenient, and the fact you can manually control pressure is important when your delayed onset muscle soreness is intense.

Grid STK Handheld Foam Roller
Grid STK Handheld Foam Roller
Grid STK Handheld Foam Roller

The Grid STK foam roller takes all the benefits of the original GRID roller and places them in the palms of your hand. It's perfect for rolling out quads or calves, and ideal for those who want to control the pressure they put on their muscles. 

Who Should Buy the Grid STK Foam Roller

  • People who can call on a training partner to help with rolling. 
  • Lifters who like to control pressure manually. 
  • Anyone who needs extra work on their thighs and calves. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Grid STK Foam Roller

  • Athletes who train alone and need a more general purpose roller. 
  • Trainees who prefer a less dense foam roller. 
  • Consumers who dislike the variability of manual pressure. 

The STK roller is a solid hand roller for nailing spots you can reach. With a willing partner, you can really dig into some areas that are hard to access with other rollers.

Best Pinpoint Foam Roller

While technically not a foam roller, lacrosse balls are actually excellent tools for self massage. You could actually use any type of ball, but most people find tennis balls too soft and golf balls too hard. Lacrosse balls are right in the middle in the goldilocks zone. 

Lacrosse Balls

There are a host of reasons why you should consider lacrosse balls, but for us, there are three main ones. First, lacrosse balls are cheap and ubiquitous. You can find them at most sporting goods stores in the US, and even outside the US they’re easy enough to find. Second, they are the most portable tool on this list. Everyone has space for one and they’ll never be confiscated on a flight. Finally, they are really great at pinpointing muscles that are often hard to reach with other rollers.

Lacrosse Ball Pinpoint Roller
Lacrosse Ball Pinpoint Roller
Lacrosse Ball Pinpoint Roller

It's hard to beat a lacrosse ball when it comes to pinpointing hard to reach muscle areas. Softer than a golf ball, but more firm than a tennis ball, they're the perfect balance to help loosen up deep, pesky knots. 

Who Should Buy Lacrosse Balls

  • Consumers who need a super portable option. 
  • Lifters who want to dig into smaller, harder to reach muscles like the scapula
  • Buyers with a smaller budget. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Lacrosse Balls

  • Trainees with a lower tolerance for pain. 
  • Athletes who want a less pinpoint approach to foam rolling. 
  • Anyone that easily loses smaller objects. 

Lacrosse balls are an incredible option for self massage, especially if you travel regularly. The only caveat is that the pain can ratchet up quickly if you can’t fully control the pressure you’re applying.

What to Consider Before Buying A Foam Roller

Foam rollers aren’t hugely expensive, but they can be sizable. Before you fill your gym bag with an item that doesn’t match your needs, here are a few things to consider before purchasing.

Your Pain Tolerance

Foam rollers might feel a little uncomfortable as you tackle some tight spots, but they shouldn’t be painful. The goal is to help release the muscles, not to make you tense up again. Your pain tolerance will play a big part in this. If you have a relatively low pain tolerance, sticking to foam rollers with larger surface areas is the way to go. On the other hand if you are a bit of a masochist (we’re kidding of course), a smaller surface area will offer greater pressure. Some even use golf balls as rollers when they need something next level.  

Materials 

The materials used in a massage roller are going to have a large impact on the comfort of the foam roller. EPP foam (expanded polypropylene) and EVA foam (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) tend to be the softest options, then comes rubber, and finally after that you have hard plastics or even metal in some cases. The material used will obviously also affect durability.

Your Training

Make sure you choose a roller that is suited for the job. If you’re a powerlifter, for instance, there’s a good chance your pecs and your quads  might take a beating after heavy squat and bench training days. If that’s the case, you’re probably going to spend a decent amount of time rolling those muscles. Some muscle groups are harder to hit than others, and you want to make sure that whatever you purchase is going to help you reach the areas that are under the greatest stress.

Portability

Gym bags sadly don’t have endless space. The reality is, that with your shoes, shake, towel and change of clothes, there probably isn’t much extra real estate to spare. Some of the rollers on this list will be able to squeeze in there. If rolling regularly is key for you, then consider how portable the rollers are that you’re interested in. 

Your Budget

Budget is always a factor. With foam rolling, you want to pay attention to the price of the roller versus the versatility it offers. Some of the options out there are expensive, but extremely versatile and convenient to use. Others are cheap, but less convenient. At the end of the day, you’re better off paying for whatever you will use regularly. 

Versatility

Some of the foam rollers we have reviewed are incredibly versatile — able to conveniently massage almost every muscle on your body. Others are more niche and focus on a smaller group of muscles. Are you looking for a specific or a general solution? This is going to tie in with your budget.

Foam Rollers and the Research

Foam rollers are a relatively new product, so they have not been studied as extensively as some of the other equipment out there. That being said, there does seem to be a consensus emerging as to what they are and aren’t useful for.

A recent meta analysis in Frontiers of Physiology on the effects of Foam Rollers offers a great overview of the current science. In this research, the authors looked at 21 separate studies and compared the results (1). 

From the analysis, researchers suggest that foam rolling before a workout can be useful for short term flexibility and also,  surprisingly, seem to lead to a very small increase in sprint performance. 

There also seems to be a benefit of reduced muscle soreness from rolling after training. The authors are however keen to point out that the mechanisms for these results are still unclear and that it could be partly psychological, and that there is still no consensus as to best practice when using a roller. However, as foam rolling is incredibly safe and doesn’t seem to negatively impact performance, there seems to be little risk to including it in your routine, and many athletes do. 

Research Takeaways

We’re still in the early stages of research on foam rolling. With the wide array of products now out there, it is clear that there are benefits to be had from using foam rollers. However, our aim isn’t to tell you conclusively which style of roller is unequivocally best, or how long you should be spending and on which parts of your body. Rather, this list is a starting point to help you identify your preferences. 

Our advice

Use foam rollers if you feel like they help you, but be sure to get off the floor and working on building your muscles too!

Check out our in depth guide on how to use foam rollers for more

FAQs

What is the best foam roller?

We think the best foam roller over all is the GRID foam roller. It’s one of the most popular, comes in a variety of sizes, and is a solid foam roller for tricky spots as well as broader areas like your whole back.

Should foam rolling be painful?

There is going to be a certain level of discomfort yes. Note that this means that the pain shouldn’t be unbearable. If you find that there is pain and it is unusually intense, then we’d recommend talking to a coach or a physiotherapist to find out more about what is going on. In normal circumstances, foam rolling will be uncomfortable but should start to become less so as you and your muscles acclimate to it.

If I foam roll for longer will the effects be better?

If you find that long time duration rolling is really beneficial for you, then more power to you. Everyone has an individualized response to different exercises. For more on this, see our guide to muscle recovery.