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People use foam rollers for self-myofascial therapy. Some of the reported benefits of foam rolling include aiding recovery, improving range of motion, and preventing injury to the tissues that surround and support the body.

Exercises that involve a foam roller may also improve core stability. However, experts still need to confirm the benefits of using a foam roller.

There are various types of foam rollers to choose from. Some have a smooth texture, whereas others have a textured surface. Foam rollers may also differ in density and size. Each provides different intensities of self-myofascial therapy.

Keep reading to learn more about how foam rollers work and for details on some of the top foam rollers available for purchase.

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Foam rollers consist of a solid foam cylinder. Each foam roller has a different degree of density and size. To use a foam roller, people roll their body weight over the affected muscle area. This helps loosen tight areas of a muscle.

Another possible effect of foam rolling is an improvement in the hydration of the muscle and surrounding tissues. Experts suggest that squeezing the soft tissue like a sponge soaks the tissue in the fluid surrounding the muscle, which improves the motion between the different layers of connective tissue.

Researchers have not yet confirmed the benefits of foam rolling on training effects. The available studies on the effects of self-myofascial therapy focus on the short-term benefits.

One study tested the benefits of foam rolling as a warmup activity and a recovery strategy. Overall, the researchers conclude that foam rollers had a minor effect on performance and recovery.

In some situations, foam rolling increased sprint performance and flexibility and reduced the sensation of muscle pain. However, the study also found that foam rolling may be a better warmup activity than a recovery tool.

A person must tighten their core to maintain stability and balance due to the unstable surface of the foam roller. Researchers indicated that some people might notice improved core stability, power, and balance with regular use of a foam roller.

Currently, experts have not agreed on an optimal foam roll program describing the duration, pressure, and roll rhythm necessary to improve recovery and range of motion.

To confirm the benefits of foam rolling, researchers need to conduct high-quality experiments. High-quality studies require larger populations that evaluate the effect of specific programs and assess the same outcomes.

Foam rollers available on the market have different characteristics.

Each feature has a different function, and people should learn about these differences before selecting the best foam roller for their needs.

Shape

Foam rollers come in various shapes and sizes, including:

  • Cylinders: These may be useful for larger areas of muscle, including the thighs.
  • Half-round: A person can use either the flat or rounded side, depending on their needs.
  • Balls: These may be useful for smaller areas of the muscles, such as the arch of the foot or between the shoulder blades.

Density

Another factor to consider is the density:

  • Standard density: These rollers have a medium firmness, which may help with deep massage and exercise while providing some cushioning.
  • Soft density: These rollers are softer. Those who want a higher level of comfort as opposed to a deep massage may choose this standard of density.
  • Firm density: These may be more suitable for those looking for a deeper and more intense massaging effect.

Texture

Foam rollers can come in a variety of textures. Some may be smooth, while others have ridges or small spikes.

Ridges and spikes may help provide a deeper massage on tight muscles.

Size

Smaller, textured foam rollers provide deeper tissue compression.

However, longer foam rollers may be more appropriate for larger muscle areas, such as the back. They also provide more stability when people foam roll their leg muscles.

People may find better precision with a small foam ball roller.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller

For a high-density material

AmazonBasics do not focus on fitness or medical products. They are a private label developed by Amazon that manufactures different products, including household, home improvement, and office items.

The AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller is 6 inches (in) in diameter and is 12, 18, or 36 in long. According to AmazonBasics, this foam roller consists of high-density molded polypropylene.

It maintains its shape with moderate-to-heavy use. It is a suitable foam roller for people with different body types.

Prices start at around $30.00 for an 18-in foam roller on Amazon.

Gaiam Restore Muscle Massage Therapy Foam Roller

For a range of colors

Gaiam is a lifestyle brand that provides different yoga and fitness products. Some of the available product categories include yoga mats, yoga gear, and fitness equipment. Gaiam also manufactures fitness, yoga, and lounge apparel.

The Gaiam Restore Total Body Foam Roller is 36 in long with a 6-in diameter. This size is ideal for working the entire body. According to Gaiam, this foam roller loosens and soothes tight and sore muscles.

People can use this foam roller to stretch, align, and massage the body. Balance training is another potential benefit of using this product.

Prices start at around $19.99 depending on the color, for an 18-in foam roller on Amazon.

TriggerPoint Core Foam Roller

For a textured roller

TriggerPoint provides different at-home massage therapy tools that empower people to move and feel better. The company designs products that mimic the touch of a massage therapist for people of all ages, sizes, and athletic abilities.

The TriggerPoint Core Foam Roller contains an ethylene-vinyl acetate foam with a patented GRID pattern.

According to TriggerPoint, the multidensity GRID pattern provides compression to the affected muscles that is ideal for self-massage, pain relief, and improved flexibility.

The foam roller comes in three different sizes:

  • 4 in by 12 in
  • 5.5 in by 18 in
  • 5.5 in by 36 in

This foam roller has a 325-pound weight limit.

Prices start at around $21.99 for a 12-in foam roller on Amazon.

ProsourceFit High Density Speckled Foam Roller

For lower budgets

ProsourceFit focuses on manufacturing affordable and professionally sourced fitness products that any person can use to improve their health.

The ProsourceFit High Density Speckled Foam Roller measures 6 in diameter and measures either 12, 18, 24, or 36 in long. This foam roller contains an eco-friendly, high-density expanded polypropylene.

According to ProsourceFit, this foam roller reduces back pain, leg cramps, and muscle tension. People can use this product for self-myofascial release, stretching, and Pilates exercises.

Prices start at around $9.99 depending on the color, for a 12-in foam roller on Amazon.

One alternative is a muscle roller stick. This differs from a foam roller in the way a person applies pressure.

Foam rollers use a person’s body weight, whereas muscle roller sticks rely on a person’s hands to apply the pressure. Muscle roller sticks also come in a variety of sizes and textures.

Another alternative is a foam massage ball. These may suit people targeting specific muscle areas. Similar to foam massage balls, people may also use tennis balls.

People may wish to consider speaking with a doctor before using foam rollers or an alternative to ensure they use the equipment correctly.

Learn more about myofascial release tools here.

Foam rolling is a popular method for recovering after exercise. Researchers have not confirmed the reported benefits of foam rolling, however.

Some people report that foam rolling can accelerate recovery, strengthen core muscles, improve flexibility, boost balance, expand the range of motion, and prevent injuries.

Different types of foam rollers exist, and the best product depends on a person’s individual needs. Some foam rollers are smooth, whereas others have a textured surface that provides a deeper and more intense sensation.