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For a product category that essentially amounts to a collection of slightly squishy cylinders, foam rollers have quite a hold on us. The practice has long been endorsed as a pre- and post-recovery tool for athletes, but there are added benefits that open up foam rolling to us regular folk. 

We set out to find the best foam roller on the market and were surprised by the many options, which span a variety of factors including firmness, surface textures, and shapes. In the end, the TriggerPoint GRID 1.0 Foam Roller ($36.99) took top honors as the best foam roller. But there are some others to consider, depending on your budget and preferences. 

Here’s the TL;DR on how the best foam rollers stack up:

  1. TriggerPoint GRID 1.0 Foam Roller (Best Overall)
  2. Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller (Best Smooth Foam Roller)
  3. The Original Body Roller (Best Textured Foam Roller)
  4. ROLL Recovery R4 Body Roller 
  5. Lululemon Double Roller
  6. Bala The Hourglass Roller
  7. Gaiam Restore Marbled Foam Roller

The Best Foam Rollers

Best Overall

TriggerPoint GRID 1.0 Foam Roller

  • Type: Textured with hollow core
  • Material: EVA foam and plastic core
  • Size: 13 inches long
$36.99 at TriggerPoint $34.98 at Amazon
product image, white background
  • Foam is soft without compromising density
  • Preferable placement of texture
  • Some reviewers mention cracked plastic after use

When I was training for a marathon, my coaches recommended this foam roller again and again. Now, I see why. The TriggerPoint GRID 1.0 looks different than other foam rollers on the market because it’s constructed with a hollow plastic core and covered in EVA foam. This means it has just the right amount of give, and, according to the brand, ensures it “retains its shape after frequent and repeated use.”

At $36.99, this foam roller is on the upper end of prices we tested and observed. But based on my experience, you get the quality you pay for. 

There is some squish to the foam, but it doesn’t take away from the firmness of the roller (it just makes it more comfortable to use). EVA foam is often used in running shoes icon-trusted-source Journal of Biomechanics “Heel–shoe interactions and the durability of EVA foam running-shoe midsoles” View Source and is known to be durable, even under the pressure of body weight. Even with the hollow plastic core, it feels like there’s enough foam to absorb the pressure placed on the roller. Some reviewers write that their plastic cracked after a few uses, but I didn’t notice this. The foam retained its shape, too.  

I preferred the GRID’s texture pattern over all of the other rollers we tested. You can use smoother, solid areas that allow for less specific pressure on certain points, as well as smaller nodules, placed more closely together, which provide points to focus an increase in pressure. 

This was one of the shorter rollers we tested.  I prefer this, as you can focus on the areas you need. Also, because this is one of the smaller rollers on the list, it could be used for travel or on the go. Thanks to its hollow core, you could stuff clothes or other gear inside the foam roller without taking up too much additional space in a gym bag or suitcase.

Reviewers mentioned that the TriggerPoint GRID is a sturdy roller and worth the price. It works well on carpet or an exercise mat on top of concrete or a harder surface. The rolling experience doesn’t change based on where you use it. All in all, this foam roller got the highest score during our testing, even taking top marks for ease of use.

Best Smooth Foam Roller

Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller

  • Type: Smooth with solid core
  • Material: Polypropylene
  • Size: 18 inches long
$14.28 at Amazon
product image, white background
  • Most affordable foam roller we tested
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • A bit bulky for smaller areas
  • Can be slippery

At first glance, this foam roller didn’t seem like it would take top honors in any category. It’s the most “no frills” roller we tested, but it proves that even the most basic foam roller can hold its own.

After receiving the roller, it initially felt like styrofoam to the touch; however, it’s made of a durable material called polypropylene (other uses include car manufacturing). If you are looking for a very firm foam roller with a smooth surface, this is likely the one for you.

Because this roller is so smooth, it’s quite slippery when used on carpet. I recommend using it on an exercise mat on a hard surface or placing a towel over the roller to offer some grip on other surfaces. 

This is one of the longer foam rollers we tested, and its length makes it a bit harder to target smaller areas without other parts getting in the way. However, there is also a lot of surface area, which makes rolling larger areas like your back easier (and there is no texture placement to get in the way).

Reviewers note that this foam roller is just as effective as the more expensive options on the market, and we agree. If you’re looking for a basic foam roller, it gets the job done.

Best Textured Roller

The Original Body Roller

  • Type: Textured with solid core 
  • Material: Not specified
  • Size: 13 inches long
$23.96 at Amazon
product image, white background
  • Solid price point
  • Small enough for travel
  • Additional sizes available
  • Material not specified

At first glance, this foam roller looks like it’s made of a bunch of tiny beads fused together. The manufacturer doesn’t specify its material—one product description we found mentioned polypropylene—but we couldn’t find an exact answer. 

This is the most firm of all of the foam rollers we tested, so if you’re looking for an extra-firm rolling experience, this is your best bet. It almost felt too firm on sensitive areas like the back, it gave excellent pressure everywhere else. 

There is enough texture on this roller that it doesn’t slide around during use. The packaging claims it “feels like the fingers, thumbs, and palms of the human hand.” I don’t quite agree with this, but the texture does help apply extra pressure if desired. The texture is useful—to offer some trigger point pressure without digging into the muscles too much. This is a pleasant rolling experience, even with the roller being extra firm.

Because of its smaller size, it’s easier to use, especially when rolling areas such as the upper arm; however, it also comes in a 17-inch length. Some reviewers note that they travel with the 13-inch option and keep a longer one for home use.

Two reviewers noted that their foam rollers cracked, sending tiny beads around the room. We didn’t experience issues during testing, though, and otherwise, reviews are favorable. It’s a great option at an affordable price point, especially if you’re looking for a textured option that’s a step above your “basic” foam roller.

Other Foam Rollers to Consider

ROLL Recovery R4 Body Roller

  • Type: Textured with hollow core
  • Material: EVA foam and plastic core
  • Size: 18 inches long
$59.99 at Roll Recovery $59.99 at Amazon
product image, white background
  • Unique design
  • Durable
  • Heavier than other foam rollers

The ROLL Recovery R4 Body Roller is similar to our best overall pick in that it’s EVA foam wrapped around a hollow, plastic core. This roller is much more rigid, however, and at 2.6 pounds, it weighs more than other rollers on the list. This makes it feel denser than it is.

The ridge in the middle makes for a less versatile rolling experience. It’s marketed as being great for rolling your neck or spine; however, I found it uncomfortable. This roller shouldn’t be counted out, though. Thanks to the unique design on a longer, 18” roller, there is enough surface area on either side of that ridge to roll parts of the body you wish to be on a flatter—yet textured—surface. 

Reviewers regularly mention the unique design and enjoy its contours and ridges. While it’s one of the more expensive foam rollers that we tested, if you are looking for a foam roller with a distinct shape and extra-firm body, this should be on your radar.

Lululemon Double Roller

  • Type: Two textured rollers
  • Material: Not specified
  • Size: 20”
$64 at Lululemon
product image, white background
  • Two rollers in one
  • Unique wave texture pattern
  • No material specified
  • Bulky due to size

This is the most expensive foam roller we tested. However, it’s technically two rollers in one design, which helps make up for the price. At first glance, I was expecting the inner roller to be smooth and was kind of disappointed it wasn’t. However, it’s constructed well and the inner roller offers an entirely different texture variation, so it still gives you different rolling experiences from one complete roller. 

The roller’s specific material isn’t specified—the website just says “dense foam”—but both rollers felt durable. It should be noted that you cannot use the outer roller without the inner being inserted. So, while it is two-in-one, both still need to be together to use the outer roller, but don’t let that deter you. Both foam rollers feel durable and solid. The biggest disconnect is in the advertised use: Lululemon says the outer roller is for arms and legs, and the inner roller is for the back. During testing, I actually preferred the opposite, as the inner roller was very firm and doesn’t offer a lot of surface area, making it better suited for targeting small pressure points. Still, with two rollers that have two different textures, it’s quite versatile compared to some of the other foam rollers on this list. 

How We Found The Best Foam Rollers

best foam rollers | foam rollers lying on ground
Ashley Lauretta for The Nessie

Meet Your Guinea Pig

I’m Ashley Lauretta, a health and fitness journalist with more than a decade of experience. I’ve been a contributing editor for running and triathlon magazines, where I got extensive experience testing gear and products in the running and fitness space. I’ve regularly attended expos to see the latest and greatest in fitness gear and enjoy trying new-to-me products. Also, I’ve interviewed fitness trainers and coaches from all disciplines for places such as WIRED, Well+Good, Parade Magazine, and Runner’s World, and written for companies such as Nike, Under Armour, Livestrong.com, and more. When not writing about fitness, I’ve spent time training for and running the Los Angeles Marathon (as well as a handful of half marathons) and taking fitness classes to support local gyms and studios.

Our Testing Process

When creating this guide, I researched popular items in multiple product categories and read through numerous reviews, making detailed notes on which features we should be testing foam rollers for, such as durability and firmness. Next, I began to make a detailed list of foam rollers to consider for testing—while making sure to have multiple options in each category—noting things such as price, materials, and customer reviews. The Nessie purchased the top seven options for testing. 

As I received each foam roller, I took the time to inspect the construction, making notes on first impressions. Foam rollers were each used twice—my husband stretches nightly, so he also tried each roller—with top choices tested a third time for final thoughts and comments. When foam rolling, we made sure to roll portions of our arms, legs, and back. I also investigated the foam roller materials (when the brands revealed them, that is) and looked at studies to see what other items are constructed from materials and how strong they actually are. 

After each use—both on carpet and on an exercise mat on a hard surface—I took notes on the cost, ease of use, durability, and stiffness/density of each foam roller. I also took customer reviews into consideration. For more information on how we found the best foam rollers, you can read the test notes.

Are Foam Rollers Worth It?

We combed through studies and talked with Dr. Nick DiSarro, PT, DPT, OCS, CEAS, a physical therapist and director of operations at ResilientRX in Austin, Texas, to find out if he regularly recommends foam rolling to patients—and what you should know before buying one. 

What Are the Benefits of Using a Foam Roller?

best foam rollers
Andrew Valdivia

Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, or gentle, repetitive massage that releases tension in myofascial tissue icon-trusted-source Cleveland Clinic “Myofascial Pain Syndrome” View Source (the connective tissue that surrounds muscles and organs). 

Studies suggest that foam rolling may increase range of motion icon-trusted-source Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies “Effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery: A systematic review of the literature to guide practitioners on the use of foam rolling” View Source , enhance muscle performance icon-trusted-source International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy “THE EFFECTS OF SELF‐MYOFASCIAL RELEASE USING A FOAM ROLL OR ROLLER MASSAGER ON JOINT RANGE OF MOTION, MUSCLE RECOVERY, AND PERFORMANCE: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW” View Source (both before and after exercise), increase arterial blood flow, and improve symptoms of tension headaches icon-trusted-source Journal of Clinical Medicine “Effects of Foam Rolling vs. Manual Therapy in Patients with Tension-Type Headache: A Randomized Pilot Study” View Source . It has also been suggested that foam rolling can reduce cortisol, our stress hormone, therefore helping calm our nervous system. However, this isn’t widely agreed on and some researchers found icon-trusted-source Journal of Physical Therapy Science “Effect of Self-myofascial Release on Reduction of Physical Stress: A Pilot Study” View Source no correlation between the reduction of cortisol levels and foam rolling following exercise. 

DiSarro adds that many physical therapists recommend foam rolling to patients for a variety of musculoskeletal problems, but it’s often just one part of a comprehensive treatment plan. As a recovery tool, it’s most effective when combined with static stretching icon-trusted-source Journal of Sport Rehabilitation “Effect of foam rolling and static stretching on passive hip-flexion range of motion” View Source .

“Foam rolling will not ‘break up scar tissue’ or actively lengthen muscle tissue,” explains DiSarro, “but it can have beneficial short-term effects that include feeling looser, decreased pain, and improved range of motion.”

How Should You Use a Foam Roller?

DiSarro notes people will most commonly use a foam roller to target calf muscles, quads, and glutes, but it can also be done at the base of the skull to help with neck pain and headaches. 

“In rehab, it can be a great entry point for people to move their bodies and provide some short-term relief that opens up the opportunity to advance their exercise tolerance,” he says. Exactly how you foam roll will depend on the area you’re looking to target. For the most part, it’s pretty straightforward. To reduce tension in your calves, for example, place the roller underneath one of your calves and roll it back and forth from just above the ankle to right under the knee. If you feel a particularly tender spot, you can focus the roller there—this may be a trigger point, or a tight spot of fascia.

The most important thing, however, is to not overdo it. “I tend to live by the “less is more” mantra—a little bit goes a long way in terms of time you spend foam rolling and the amount of pressure you apply,” DiSarro says. “If we are trying to use the foam roller to help with pain, then we have the potential to irritate things even further by being too aggressive, even if it feels good at the moment.”

Too much compression on the tissue may cause pain or injury. Instead, focus on different muscle groups for up to two minutes at a time and give yourself some time for static stretches between each roll. It’s also crucial to avoid bony parts—like shoulder blades, hips, and elbows—which won’t benefit from rolling action. Finally, if you have an injury, let it heal before hitting it with the foam roller. 

Should You Foam Roll Before or After A Workout?

It depends on what you’re looking to achieve. In a meta-analysis of 21 studies icon-trusted-source Frontiers in Physiology “A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery” View Source , people who use pre-rolling as a warmup saw a small improvement in sprint performance and flexibility. People who regularly roll after working out saw a slight decrease in strength and sprint performance, but also a decrease in pain perception. Another study icon-trusted-source Journal of Athletic Training “Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures” View Source found that foam rolling after working out helped prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by a “moderate to large” amount.

Who Should Not Buy a Foam Roller?

There are instances where you should not be foam rolling. Researchers have broken down icon-trusted-source Journal of Clinical Medicine “Expert Consensus on the Contraindications and Cautions of Foam Rolling—An International Delphi Study” View Source both contraindications and precautions.


  • Bone fractures
  • Open wounds


  • Local tissue inflammation 
  • Myositis ossificans (soft tissue mass)
  • Osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone tissue)
  • Deep vein thrombosis

If you have any concerns, consult with a doctor or physical therapist before foam rolling.

Foam Rollers You Can Skip

Bala The Hourglass Roller

  • Type: Smooth with solid core
  • Material: Not specified
  • Size: 18 ⅞ inches long
$49 at Bala $49 at Target
product image, white background
  • Unique shape
  • Surface shows wear and tear easily
  • Hard to maneuver at times
  • Expensive

At first glance, I thought this roller would be my favorite. But after a few sessions, I wasn’t impressed. Like all of the brand’s products, it definitely looks great, but its aesthetics didn’t last long. Accidental fingernail scratches and use quickly became evident. 

This foam roller feels like a yoga block, so it was comfortable during use. The hourglass shape was intriguing; however, it was almost impossible to keep the groove aligned with specific areas—such as the spine—so it became uncomfortable and hard to maneuver. I appreciate that Bala includes easy-to-follow instructions and videos on its website; it’s a great way to get people started and make sure they’re using the roller as intended. Ultimately, Bala fans will love this foam roller, but there are better options on the market.

Gaiam Restore Marbled Foam Roller

  • Type: Smooth with solid core
  • Material: Not specified
  • Size: 18”
$24.98 at Gaiam $19.99 at Amazon
product image, white background
  • Offers a soft outer layer with a firm core
  • Rough seam running down the length of the roller
  • Outermost layer indents when pressure applied
  • Price doesn’t reflect quality

When first unpacking this foam roller, I noticed a seam, raised enough to be noticeable to the touch, running down its entire length. While the outermost layer of the foam roller is soft—while the roller itself still is quite firm—it is easily malleable. Putting pressure on the roller leaves fingerprint indents, which never quite went away. This roller would likely get warped over time (one reviewer mentioned an indent formed after use and it never quite rolled right afterward). 

The price is high for how unreliable the foam seems. Even with the lighter firmness, it still offers a good deal of pressure. However, it seems that over time it could get warped with excessive pressure. When foam rolling my back, the softer foam felt better than harder rollers. But other than that, it’s pretty comparable to other rollers. If you’re looking for a less firm roller, this would likely be the best choice out of everything we tested. Its quality just didn’t impress me.


  1. Foam rollers role in pain relief: “Does the type of foam roller influence the recovery rate, thermal response and DOMS prevention?PLOS One (June 2020).
  2. EVA foam is used to make running shoe midsoles: “Heel–shoe interactions and the durability of EVA foam running-shoe midsoles,” Journal of Biomechanics (September 2004).
  3. Polypropylene foam used in cars where energy management is important: “Expanded Polypropylene (EPP),” British Plastics Federation (Accessed March 2023).
  4. Foam rolling relieves muscle fatigue and soreness: “A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery,” Frontiers in Physiology (April 2019).
  5. Foam rolling resulted in a perceived reduction of anxiety: “Foam Rolling Elicits Neuronal Relaxation Patterns Distinct from Manual Massage: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Brain Sciences (June 2021).
  6. Foam rolling may increase range of motion in joints: Effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery: “A systematic review of the literature to guide practitioners on the use of foam rolling,” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (April 2020).
  7. Foam rolling may enhance pre- and post-workout muscle performance: “THE EFFECTS OF SELF‐MYOFASCIAL RELEASE USING A FOAM ROLL OR ROLLER MASSAGER ON JOINT RANGE OF MOTION, MUSCLE RECOVERY, AND PERFORMANCE: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW,” International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (November 2015).
  8. Foam rolling can increase arterial blood flow immediately following rolling session: “Acute Effects of Lateral Thigh Foam Rolling on Arterial Tissue Perfusion Determined by Spectral Doppler and Power Doppler Ultrasound,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (April 2017).
  9. Foam rolling is an effective treatment for tension-type headaches: “Effects of Foam Rolling vs. Manual Therapy in Patients with Tension-Type Headache: A Randomized Pilot Study,” Journal of Clinical Medicine (April 2022).
  10. Foam rolling and rest after exercise both reduce cortisol levels similarly: “Effect of Self-myofascial Release on Reduction of Physical Stress: A Pilot Study,” Journal of Physical Therapy Science (November 2014).
  11. Foam rolling and static stretching protocol for range of motion: “Effect of foam rolling and static stretching on passive hip-flexion range of motion,” Journal of Sport Rehabilitation (November 2014).
  12. Foam rolling is more beneficial when used as a pre-workout tool: “A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery,” Frontiers in Physiology (April 2019).
  13. Foam roller type doesn’t influence recovery: “Does the type of foam roller influence the recovery rate, thermal response and DOMS prevention?PLoS One (June 2020).
  14. Contraindications and precautions for foam rolling: “Expert Consensus on the Contraindications and Cautions of Foam Rolling—An International Delphi Study,” Journal of Clinical Medicine (November 2021).
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This article was rigorously researched and fact checked. We use peer-reviewed journals and reputable medical sources (think: CDC, WHO, NIH, and the like) to back up every claim we make, and also reach out to experts in the field to ensure we’re covering things the right way. We apply these principles to everything we cover—including brands we partner with—and we’ll always disclose sponsorships, ads, and any kind of financial relationship with anything featured on The Nessie. You deserve the best, most straightforward information on health and wellness, and we think this is the right way to do it. You can read more about our testing and review process here.

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