TLC for Tight Muscle groups: High-Rated Foam Rollers From REI & Amazon

Whether you’re feeling sore after a long hike or just stiff from sitting at your desk all day, these are some of the best-rated foam rollers to help ease the tension.

Why buy a foam roller? Perhaps you’re already an active person with a dialed stretching regimen, so you’re wondering, “Why would I need this thing?”

Foam rolling actually has several great benefits whether you’re an elite athlete, avid hiker, or are sedentary often for your job. It can help release muscle tension and soreness while improving range of motion and flexibility.

Along with that, you will also reap the benefits of improving posture, relieving back pain, improving circulation, and increasing stress relief and relaxation.

Foam rolling is effective pre- or post-workout or after your joints have become stiff from sitting for long hours.

How to Choose a Foam Roller

There are two main types of foam rollers — smooth and textured rollers. Smooth rollers are less intense and great for beginners.

By contrast, a textured roller has ridges or knobs to target deeper muscles and the knots/tension within them. These rollers come in a variety of textures and lengths.

Check out this list to find which one can provide the right amount of pressure for you.

Most Popular Foam Rollers

Best Overall: Trigger Point GRID ($35)

At the top of the list is the Trigger Point GRID multidensity foam roller. REI’s customers said the different patterns on the foam created targeted pressure, giving them an effective self-massage experience.

Trigger Point originally designed this roller for athletes, but beginners and advanced users who reviewed it found it suited their needs. Many reviews on Amazon praised this roller for “hurting so good,” saying that it eased muscle soreness and reduced recovery time.

The GRID is made out of closed-cell EVA foam and has a reinforced PVC core for durability, meaning it shouldn’t lose its shape. It’s fairly small — 13 inches long with a diameter of 5.5 inches — making it compact enough to toss in a bag or suitcase for travel.

And although it’s small, Trigger Point claims that the GRID can support up to 500 pounds. If you want a larger size, it comes in a 26-inch length as well for $60.

Shop 13-inch GRID Shop 26-inch GRID 2.0

AmazonBasics High-Density Foam Roller ($10-24)

Amazon basics foam roller

Rated as the No. 1 foam roller by the New York Times, this AmazonBasics roller offers a highly rated option as well. Although it’s dense compared to other options, the foam surface is smooth with no ridges. If you’re more susceptible to bruising but still want firm pressure, this could fit the bill. The smooth surface and dense foam purport to provide even, consistent pressure for a not-too-intense massage.

It comes in four different lengths: 12, 18, 24, and 36 inches. The foam roller is made from molded polypropylene, which is specifically used to maintain firmness and provide durability. This also offers considerable bang for your buck, with a starting price of $10, and up to just $24 for the largest size.

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Gaiam Restore Total Body Foam Roller ($25-32)

Gaiam foam roller

The Gaiam offers a less intense foam roller that reviewers say still works well when dealing with stiff muscles. If you’re new to foam rolling and trying to ease into a foam rolling routine slowly, this is a good contender. Gaiam engineered the foam to be firm enough that it doesn’t flex under your body weight but is definitely less dense than other rollers on the market.

Many reviewers said this foam roller has come in handy for physical therapy and helping with back problems. It comes in two lengths, 18 and 36 inches. Because of its less dense construction, this roller is better suited to beginner use. As you regularly use this foam roller, your muscles will likely adapt, and you’ll eventually want to graduate to a firmer roller.

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OPTP AXIS Foam Roller ($7-31)

OPTP Pro-Roller Axis

Another intense foam roller, the OPTP AXIS is more targeted at relieving muscle knots. If you’ve ever had an unbearable knot in a muscle that is sensitive to the touch, this may be your solution (although it might hurt).

This roller is made with firm-density EPP (expanded polypropylene), built to massage out sore muscles and trigger points. It comes in three lengths: 12, 18, and 36 inches (as well as 12- and 36-inch semicircles).

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Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller ($200)

Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller

If you’re an expert whose standard foam roller just isn’t working anymore, this foam roller might be the upgrade you’re looking for. As you can tell from the name, this roller actually vibrates, with a choice of three settings ranging from 28 to 38 Hz.

Though it comes with a hefty price tag, the added features of this foam roller supposedly help increase flexibility and circulation as well as reduce muscle soreness with greater efficiency than a normal foam roller.

Like the other dense foam rollers, this one is also made of firm EPP, aimed at providing an intense muscle massage. It’s cordless and still small enough to cart around. Additionally, you can bring this TSA-approved foam roller along when you travel.

According to Sports Illustrated and Business Insider, many professional athletes use this in their daily routine, including Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, and Blake Griffin.

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