Best Foam Rollers For Muscle Recovery 2020

Make self-care easy and affordable with these great foam rollers.

While we would all love to get a massage or see a specialist to aid in our recovery process, that tends to be expensive and simply unrealistic. Thankfully there is an alternative to this self-care dilemma in foam rollers. While massages work to release tight and sore muscles, so too do foam rollers but they offer the benefit of being affordable and easy to use.

The benefits of foam rolling are extensive and investing in a quality recovery tool can really help move recovery along faster and increase overall performance (1). It works to ease muscle pain and reduce inflammation while also increasing range of motion as a result of loosening up all of those tight spots. As a simple way to stretch, not only will you bounce back faster from a workout and reduce that achy feeling, but also increase your mobility and flexibility in the process (2). One overall, and often overlooked, benefit of foam rolling is that it can help you relax. Breaking up those tight, tense muscles will help you feel more calm, cool, and collected.

What To Look For In A Foam Roller

  • Size and shape: Many come in different lengths and other rolling tools are out there like a massage stick or ball.
  • Intensity level: Each provides a different level of intensity in terms of design and material for intended use.
  • How active you are: If you will use it regularly, make sure it is durable and will handle your frequent needs.

We’ve put together a list of these soft tissue tools with a number of foam rollers, rolling sticks, and rolling balls to offer diversity and ensure you get everything you are looking for. Check out this list of the best foam rollers for muscle recovery.

Best Advanced: RumbleRoller Textured Muscle Foam Roller

foam rollers

RumbleRoller brings an ingenious design with this foam roller. Specially designed with firm, but flexible bumps, it allows you to gently roll over those sore spots as it kneads the contours of your body. It can erode trigger points, help bring that much needed flexibility and mobility back, and gently stretch soft tissue for relief. With multiple sizes and varying degrees of firmness and density, this foam roller is waterproof and non-absorbent, latex-free, and molded with a natural synthetic to prevent the growth of anything nasty. As an advanced design, RumbleRoller hits home with this foam roller.

Pros: The firm but flexible design allows for great results as it contours to your body. With different sizes and degrees of firmness, the options are there for whatever your needs are.

Cons: It is expensive and you may find other high density rollers for cheaper. If you aren’t used to foam rolling, the design could be too much.

Price: $59.95 for 22 inches

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Best For Targeted Pain: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

foam rollers

TriggerPoint makes the first foam roller to feature a multi-density exterior built around a hollow core. Tested for durability and effectiveness, this product is trusted by athletes and professionals alike. The design built around a hollow core allows this roller to keep its shape and integrity so it can better serve you. By decreasing muscle and joint pain, increasing circulation, improving flexibility and range of motion, and promoting better balance, this dense, firm foam roller allows you to target certain spots for pain to really attack all of those unwanted painful areas.

Pros: Constructed well and seems to last a while, this foam roller will help target those stubborn spots of targeted pain. The durable design and hollow interior will allow it to keep its shape.

Cons: It is on the more expensive side and may cause more pain for those not used to such a dense foam roller.

Price: $59.99 for 26 inches

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Best With High Density: 321 STRONG Foam Roller

foam rollers

This high density foam roller from 321 STRONG is comfortable to use and is great for all levels. The alternating bumps on this roller mimic the fingers, palms, and thumbs of a therapist to effectively penetrate the soft tissue layer of sore, tired muscles. As a great recovery tool, it will treat muscle pain, increase performance and flexibility, promote blood flow to those worn down sites, and flush away built-up lactic acid. Used for a warm-up or a cool down, this foam roller will really benefit all of your muscular needs. Patented, durable, and made from high-quality material, this roller can support up to 500 lbs. and offer a high-density option for your at-home needs.

Pros: The unique bumps design gives you great feel for different types of treatment and allows for great soft tissue penetration. Very dense, this will work great for muscle relief.

Cons: Durability comes into question and for those not used to a hard, dense foam roller, this won’t be for you.

Price: $23.99 for 12.75 inches

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Best Hand-Held: TheStick Travel Stick

foam rollers

Rolling sticks are also great rolling options and TheStick provides the same benefits as a foam roller but with more portability. As a more flexible option, the core bends and allows you to treat a much larger area, and while it is primarily used on the legs, it can be used for other muscles group, although it may be harder. As a pre-workout tool, it can improve strength, flexibility, and endurance by priming those muscle for whatever workout is ahead. Post exercise, this can accelerate muscle recovery by squeezing out lactic acid and its unwanted effects. For a great hand-held option, try TheStick and see what it can do for you.

Pros: Very portable and flexible, it allows for a great surface massage. Since the core bends, it also allows for a larger area to be hit.

Cons: Really only effective on the legs and not great for targeting deeper muscles given the design and density.

Price: $27.45 for 17 inches

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Best For Beginners: Gaiam Restore Muscle Massage Therapy Foam Roller

foam rollers

For those just starting out, Gaiam offers a great foam roller for beginners. A simple design, this Gaiam roller is designed to help with recovery by relieving pain and tension and helps loosen up sore muscles to improve overall flexibility and mobility, as well as stress and spinal alignment. The semi-firm density allows for some pressure without overdoing it to optimize muscle stimulation. It is soft enough to soothe but firm enough to offer relief to those muscles. Available in two sizes, this roller is a great pre- or post-workout tool and offers versatility and effective rehab. If you are new to foam rolling, check out this solid product from Gaiam.

Pros: Simple to use and not very firm, for those sensitive or new to foam rolling this is great. With two sizes, it allows for options depending on your size and intended use.

Cons: Not very dense so those looking for a deeper massage should look elsewhere. Quality and durability come into question as well.

Price: $24.98 for 18 inches

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Best For Back Pain: The Ultimate Back Roller Wheel

foam rollers

An interesting rolling and muscle recovery tool, The Ultimate Back Roller is unique in that it is the first chiropractor invented foam roller with a spine gap to enhance overall spinal mobility and flexibility. A flat roller can often times do a disservice by jamming the spine, but this wheel contours nicely into your spine and offers great relief. Used on the floor or the wall, it can help target back, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, and quad muscles and is perfect for athletes of all experience levels. Firm but therapeutic, this design keeps your spine in mind by having a no pressure gap over your spine and offering four rows of alternating bumps to offer wide and stable relief. For back pain, The Ultimate Back Roller will provide great relief.

Pros: The spinal gap is great for avoiding spinal contact and pain and four rows offer a nice amount of pressure. Unique to target back and lower body pain, it is portable for wherever you go.

Cons: Only useful for your back, as you cannot get full use like a traditional foam roller. It is expensive despite being a niche recovery tool.

Price: $59.95

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Best For Deep Tissue: RumbleRoller BOA Original Beastie Massage Ball

foam roller

When it comes to targeting troubled spots and getting that deep tissue relief, Rumble Roller Beastie Massage Ball has you covered. With the perfect combination of bump placement, size, firmness, and flexibility, Beastie comes to the rescue for those trouble spots by really focusing deep into those muscles. It can focus on those smaller muscles that are often hard to hit and the bumps are designed to get the deepest amount of penetration as possible. With two firmness options, you can choose between slightly more flexible or firm for your comfort level and this extremely portable massage tool can be with you at all times. Get rid of that deep tissue pain and let Beastie help you overcome it.

Pros: This will really work to target that deep pain and also hit those smaller muscles often missed which is a great added benefit. Very portable, this can be used anywhere.

Cons: It can be hard to find the muscle at times and those who use a normal ball, like a lacrosse ball, may find that easier. It is tough to apply pressure alone so having someone help makes it slightly better.

Price: $24.95

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Wrap Up

Foam rollers are extremely useful tools and for anyone who works out they are a must to have in your gym bag or at home. Able to provide solid muscle relief, rid the body of pain and tension, increase flexibility, mobility and blood flow, and promote a better overall lifestyle, foam rollers, sticks, or balls are all much needed recovery tools. Look at these top foam rollers and other rolling tools and see which one is right for you. Feel good in knowing that there are affordable options to help you handle all of your muscle recovery needs from the comfort of your own home.

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  1. Cole, Gibwa (2018). “The Evidence Behind Foam Rolling: A Review”. (source)
  2. Healey, Kellie C.; Hatfield, Disa L.; Blanpied, Peter; Dorfman, Leah R.; Riebe, Deborah (2014). “The Effects of Myofascial Release With Foam Rolling on Performance”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.