If you do it right, and with the right equipment, foam rolling is a deep-tissue massage you can give yourself at home every single day, for free, just by rolling around on the floor. Here’s how it works: A cylinder of firm foam pushes up against sore muscles and fascia, the thin layer of tissue that surrounds muscles, to loosen targeted areas, prevent injuries, and make you feel good both before and after working out. (It’s also nice when you just need a good stretch while watching TV.) Fitness people love them. They help improve the health of tissues — improving oxygen and blood flow through our fascia — help relieve muscles and joint pain, and increase mobility. What else can you want?”
Perhaps the better question is, which one should you get? Overall, trainers and instructors across the board suggest that you should be looking for something lightweight, compact enough for storing, and dense enough to dig into trigger points. Here, we’ve collected a selection of the best of the best that meet all those requirements. Our picks are recommended by trainers, runners, dancers, and a chiropractor, and they include standard, high-density foam rollers and specialty options like a collapsible, travel-size version and even a vibrating roller.
High density round foam roller
The deep, focused pressure of the round foam roller isn’t for everyone, though. If you’re prone to bruising or are new to rolling, you might want a simpler — but still intense — option. The more spikes and grooves that you see, the more the muscles are stimulated, This may sound great, but can be painful at first and may lead to injury, so definitely ease your way in with flatter, more basic tools. The high-density foam means you’ll still feel a lot of pressure, but it’ll be evenly distributed throughout the roller’s surface area. “I prefer the smooth rollers over textured, to evenly massage out muscles,” says one buyer, who says this model “works great.”