The Best Foam Rollers for Muscle Recovery

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woman foam rolling with best foam roller for muscle soreness

Trust, your muscles will thank you.

01 of 13

Benefits of Using a Foam Roller

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AdobeStock

Being sore after a tough workout is no fun. But thankfully, there's a simple way to both prevent and ease aches and pains after the fact: foam rolling. While it can be practiced either before or after intense exercise, research shows that regularly rolling out your muscles offers a slew of benefits, like reducing muscle fatigue and soreness, speeding up recovery, and enhancing overall muscular performance.

Lauren Roxburgh, a trainer and structural integrative specialist, previously told Shape that "a regular rolling practice can help you lengthen muscles by turning off overworked muscles and helping you tune into stabilizing muscles like your core, inner thighs, triceps, and obliques." According to Roxburgh, even if you only use a recovery tool — like a foam roller — sporadically, you're still "cleaning out some lactic acid that builds up in your muscle during exercise," as well as rolling out the fascia (or connective tissue in the muscles). There are tons of different exercises you can do with a foam roller too. Regardless of when or how you use your roller, it's worth it to have this handy tool ready when you need it.

02 of 13

How to Find the Best Foam Roller

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Getty Images

Now that you know the main benefits of foam rolling, you may be wondering which is the best foam roller to buy. Below is a list of the best foam rollers, including different types like muscle roller sticks, spiked foam rollers to reach your trigger points, and even a vibrating foam roller for a pseudo-deep tissue massage. Sounds heavenly, right?

When shopping for a roller, pay close attention to its density. Foam rollers come in high-density, medium-density, and soft-density options to suit the range of intensity levels needed for muscle recovery. The firmer the roller, the more intense and targeted the massage it creates. Those looking to mimic the benefits of a deep tissue massage will fare better with a high- or medium-density roller, whereas those who are sensitive (or prone to bruising) will enjoy the softness of a soft-density foam roller.

Keep scrolling to shop the best foam rollers that aid in muscle recovery — they've received glowing reviews from customers for their abilities to relieve aches and pains.

03 of 13

Best Overall: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

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TriggerPoint / Walmart

The TriggerPoint foam roller has a three-dimensional surface and a hollow plastic inner tube that offers more stability and firmness to roll out tight muscles and knots. BTW, the different stripe patterns aren't just for decoration; they're designed to replicate the feel of a massage therapist's palms, fingers, and fingertips on your muscles. The 26-inch roller is long enough to roll out large areas of your body at once.

TriggerPoint therapy tools are very popular among workout fanatics, and this foam roller is no exception — reviewers gave it a 4.7-star rating, and one user said, "Never quite got into foam rolling, knew it was good but it just always seems uncomfortable and painful when I would try it out on those solid, hard foam rollers they have that gym, but this foam roller is nothing like that! It feels so great and my muscles feel so much better after! I can't go a day without rolling."

04 of 13

Best High-Density: Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller

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Amazon

This budget-friendly 18-inch rounded foam roller is a great beginner, no-frills option that's super affordable. The firm yet lightweight roller is ideal for rolling out muscles anywhere on your body, and though it isn't textured, customers say the firm material works really well on tight, sore muscles and is the perfect size for easy rolling.

In fact, more than 6,800 Amazon reviewers gave it a five-star rating. "I purchased this foam roller to practice my balance work," said one reviewer. "I have discovered it is perfect for rolling my spine and massaging my calves and hamstrings. I use it to practice all sorts of basic exercises and I think for the price, it is really worth it. I find it very, very firm which is what I wanted but if someone is expecting a soft, gentle massage, I don't think this would be that."

Price at time of publish: $13

05 of 13

Best Medium-Density: OPTP Lo Rox Aligned Foam Roller

The Ultimate Back Roller
Amazon

Slightly softer than a high-density roller, the OPTP Lo Rox Aligned Foam Roller is firm enough to provide relief without being too intense on what it's rolling over. This ensures the proper resistance for a quality massage — and helps explains why it's been dubbed the "Goldilocks of foam rollers" by at least one reviewer. This roller measures 36 inches in length and 6 inches in diameter, which makes it perfect for pretty much the whole body: back, lower neck, lats, shoulders, hips, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

"I have been foam rolling daily since receiving the Lo Rox roller and feel amazing," shared one Amazon reviewer. "The roller is the perfect density (IMO) and has tiny 'nubs' on it which help to relieve any aches you have going on, as well as keep the roller in place on carpet or a yoga mat. It's also long enough to support your entire spine vertically when doing other exercises."

Price at time of publish: $82

06 of 13

Best Soft-Density: OPTP Pro-Roller Soft Density Foam Roller

The Ultimate Back Roller
Amazon

Designed to be gentle, the OPTP Pro-Roller Soft Density Foam Roller still massages tight areas and delivers relief. People who find medium- and high-density foam to be too intense for their muscle recovery should check out this lightweight and durable option with a 4.7-star rating. The soft foam roller measures 36 inches long, has a 6-inch diameter, and features a textured pattern that grips the floor for more stability.

"I have several rollers for massage and this is my favorite as it is soft and comfortable when putting body weight into it," one reviewer shared. "The surface and material are also nice for staying on your skin… and not slipping off. Great for pressing my trigger points without the sky-high pain one gets from the harder rolls. So glad I finally got a soft one."

Price at time of publish: $60

07 of 13

Best Stick: Tiger Tail Massage Stick

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Tiger Tail / Amazon

If you need a more targeted (or gentle) massage, go with this foam roller massage stick by Tiger Tail. It has two handles and a foam portion in the middle, so you can target specific areas on your body while still staying comfortable. (Runners, it's great for your shins and calves!) What's more, this 11-inch option is perfect for traveling or bringing with you on the go for a quick muscle roll-out anywhere.

One reviewer said it "hurts so good" and continued, "It can be a bit painful if your muscles are very tight, but with just a few rolls, it helps loosen up the knots and relieve your pain. It's extremely hard to massage your own muscles and have it feel as good as a professional massage, but this comes closer to that. This feels like heaven the day after a heavy workout!"

08 of 13

Best Vibrating: Vulken High-Intensity Vibrating Foam Roller

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Vulken / Amazon

If you're looking for a vibrating foam roller for intense relief that mimics a deep tissue massage, this high-intensity roller by Vulken is the best choice for you. This super innovative tool offers four speed settings for you to choose from, including an auto option that continuously pulsates for complete muscle relaxation. It also comes with a handy carrying case for easy transportation and a rechargeable battery that customers say lasts a really long time. (Check out another vibrating foam roller that impressed our editors.)

One reviewer called it "a must-have roller" and said, "The Vulken roller works just the same or better than the higher priced rollers. I love the different speeds and the length of the roller makes it easy to use on more areas of your legs. I am a runner and my feet and legs need constant rolling. The vibration of the roller makes it easier to roll. You can just sit still and let it work on your muscle pain. The roller charges quickly and is easy to travel with."

Price at time of publish: $76

09 of 13

Best Spiked: Rumble Roller Textured Muscle Foam Roller

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RumbleRoller / Amazon

With large spikes that mimic acupuncture therapy spikes, this textured muscle foam roller offers the most intense massage. The specially formed bumps are firm yet flexible, designed to feel like a deep tissue massage. It may look painful, but the roller offers tons of relief for especially sore or tight areas — that's why it has a 4.5-star rating from customers. Users note that while it may seem intense at first, it's actually extremely effective at reaching trigger points. Spiked foam roller beginners are better off with this groovy roller from Planet Fitness, which offers a gentler pressure level.

Price at time of publish: $50

"This works great for large surfaces," one Target shopper wrote. Another added that it delivers. "great deep tissue foam rolling."

10 of 13

Best for Targeted Relief: RumbleRoller Beastie Bar

The Ultimate Back Roller
Amazon

While the RumbleRoller Beastie Bar isn't technically a foam roller, it's one of the best tools for long-lasting muscle recovery. It delivers targeted relief with its unique build, which features two of the brand's original Beastie Balls that mimic deep tissue penetration where you need it most — whether it be the back, neck, shoulders, quads, feet, etc. And thanks to its stick design, you can easily roll out the hard-to-reach knots you're looking to target while maintaining a firm, controlled grip. (Or you can attach it to its mounting station for a hands-free massage.) Experienced users recommend starting with light pressure and eventually building up as you become more accustomed to the Beastie Bar.

"I love it," one Amazon shopper raved. "It is amazing at rolling areas that foam rollers or The Stick can't hit. I still use my foam roller and my stick, but this allows me to pinpoint problem areas. It seemed a little pricey, at first. But it is worth every penny. I highly recommend this product."

Price at time of publish: $60

11 of 13

Best for Beginners: Gaiam Restore Muscle Massage Therapy Foam Roller

The Ultimate Back Roller
Amazon

Those seeking a straightforward foam roller will enjoy the beginner-friendly Gaiam Restore Muscle Massage Therapy Foam Roller, which has a 4.6-star rating on Amazon. Its easy-to-navigate 36-inch design allows for full-body muscle relief, helping you improve your mobility, relieve stress, and promote healthy recovery with every roll. The affordable foam roller offers a medium-firm density to soothe without overstimulating the muscles, making it better suited for post-workout recovery rather than pre-workout warmups.

"I had a lot of back pain and my dad suggested I use it to loosen the muscles. I used it for 10 to 15 minutes and I was amazed my pain was so much better I wasn't hunched over anymore," an Amazon shopper wrote, adding, "I use it on my side, on my back all the way up to my shoulders. It's stiff enough to rub anywhere though. If I needed I could roll it on an arm or leg too."

Price at time of publish: $80

12 of 13

Best for Backs: Acumobility The Ultimate Back Roller

The Ultimate Back Roller
Amazon

There's nothing worse than not being able to reach the knot in your back that's causing you trouble. With The Ultimate Back Roller from Acumobility, you can achieve targeted massage relief thanks to its chiropractor-designed bump pattern and unique circular shape. And it provides that relief without creating any unwanted pressure on the spine. It's built from a heavy-duty EVA material that won't bend or warp after extended use, giving you the confidence to roll for however long you need. In fact, it can even help improve your posture — who doesn't need that?

"I have two compressed discs in my upper back from a work accident six years ago," one customer began their five-star review. "I live in agony, I can't sit in certain positions because it'll spasm… The knobs dug into my back muscles like a deep tissue massage from [Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson] and cracked my spine from neck to [buttcrack]. Did I mention I found Jesus? The pain in my back disappeared. Is this what it's like to live pain-free?"

Price at time of publish: $80

13 of 13

Best for Physical Therapy: Rolling With It Foam Roller

The Ultimate Back Roller
Amazon

Perfect for at-home physical therapy treatments, the Rolling With It Foam Roller features a soft exterior and medium-firm density core to effectively sustain pressure on targeted muscle groups. This combination of smooth and firm relieves pain in the back and neck while promoting core and spinal stabilization. It also improves muscle mobility, flexibility, and reflexology in addition to aiding in pre- and post-workout soreness relief.

"My 10-year-old daughter needs it for physical therapy and it's really helping her recover quickly," one reviewer said. "Great product. Nice density and texture."

Price at time of publish: $35

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