TOP 7 Best Foam Rollers & Massage Sticks for Runners Reviewed 2019

5 (100%) 4 votes

Running hurts. Right? Can we agree on that?

Well, of course, we can. If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right.

If you agree with me there you probably also agree that you want it to hurt less. One of the easiest ways to do that is myofascial release.

That is why you’ll need to find either the best massage stick or the best foam roller for runners.

Why?

Fascia

All of the muscles and tissues and your body is surrounded by fascia. Fascia, however, can become unhealthy or damaged through things like exercise, repetitive movement, or sedentary actions.

That is why myofascial release, commonly called foam rolling is crucial.

Why?

Specifically for runners, the repetitive action of running inherently damages fascia.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a problem you can avoid, but there are steps you can take to promote the well being of your body before and after exercising.

We’ll get into the details later in another article, but here is what you need to know for now.

Foam Rolling helps push oxygenated blood through the fascia and promotes healthier fascia. This helps to increase mobility, reduce pain, and quicken recovery.

This is where foam rollers and massage sticks come in.

man using a foam roller

Why Should You Foam Roll?

Foam rolling can be utilized for every style of runner regardless of age or gender.

The idea of keeping your body healthy and repairing muscles can be applied to nearly everyone.

This is why foam rolling is important.

By adding this step to your daily work out, you should notice an increase in performance and recovery.

The main purposes of foam rolling are focused in several categories:

  • Increase recovery.
  • Relieve aches and pains.
  • Promote the health of your muscles and body.

Foam Rolling Explained

First off, as we have alluded to already, there are two different types of rollers.

  • Foam Rollers
  • Massage Sticks

As we’ll get into later, foam rollers are less portable, but more effective, allowing for a much easier full body scan and getting much deeper into your muscles.

Massage sticks are commonly used on the sideline of sporting events or on the road before a big race.

These are not as effective at getting deep, but still help improve blood flow in target areas, an important tool.

Technique

There are several different techniques including the right and wrong ways to foam roll.

None of these techniques are difficult to practice at home and require little instruction to receive the full benefit of the practice.

How easy is it?

Even taking one minute to focus on specific muscle groups is better than not foam rolling at all.

By focusing on certain muscle groupings at a time, you can actively repair and concentrate on one area at a time.

How to Foam Roll

Let’s break down how to actually use a foam roller. We can pull apart foam rolling into three different categories:

  • Rolling
  • Spans
  • Stretching

When you are rolling, make sure to roll out a couple inches at a time for the muscle group you’re focusing on.

This is best done with the foam roller on the ground while you use your body weight to press down on top of the foam roller.

Rolling and Spans

Rolling and spans are two sides of the same coin.

Here they are defined:

  • Rolling: Moving the roller up and down, usually on a sagittal plane from your feet to your head.
  • Spans: Moving your body left and right on a lateral plane, usually without moving the foam roller.

Rolling is what most athletes do on a foam roller, so that is not particularly complicated.

If you want to be more effective, however, consider spans.

What’s a span?

When you feel a tender area, using the calf muscle as an example again, rotate your leg to laterally lean on the foam roller in the spot that feels most tender or tight.

This focuses directly on the muscle group and provides more direct pressure on that area. If more pressure is needed, cross your leg at the ankle.

For each of your muscle groups below, I recommend you both roll and span.

What now?

After about two minutes on each muscle group, your muscles should be stretched out and warm and while it may be slightly painful or uncomfortable while rolling, your muscles and fascia have been rejuvenated.

They now have fresh, oxygenated blood much more so than if you simply had taken your running shoes off and sat down on the couch.

Stretching

The final exercise you can do with the foam roller is stretching.

The best way to do this is to actually use the foam roller as a fulcrum or pivot point on the muscle you are stretching out.

This allows for more pressure to be put on your focus muscle group and allows for maximum recovery.

Remember always start from the ground up when foam rolling. This means you should start foam rolling the muscle groups in your legs from the tops of your feet up to the glutes and your lower back.

Make sure to breathe.

Breathing allows for rich, oxygenated blood to be pushed through your muscle fascia. Breathing also acts as a reminder to foam roll slowly and not to rush.

foam roller

Consistency

Consistency is key.

Consistency is better than intensity. When you foam roll, particularly after a run, make sure to do the movements and frequency consistent from day to day.

Once a week is not enough!

Make sure to foam roll after every run regardless of intensity. You can even do this before you run, don’t just roll when you ache.

Key Elements to Keep in Mind Before Buying

There are tons of foam rollers on the market right now. It can be a bit overwhelming to see all the options.

The best foam rollers for runners in 2019 can be broken down into a couple categories.

You can decide which ones are best for you.

You need to consider the following:

  • Firmness
  • Texture
  • Portability
  • Technology

Below, we give you our opinion on the best muscle roller for runners so that you can make your own educated purchase on the market.

TOP 7 Best Foam Rollers & Massage Sticks for Runners 2019

First up, foam rollers.

LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller

Review: The LuxFit High Density foam roller is by far the most valuable option. Coming in way cheaper than the competition this foam roller is not only effective but also affordable.

While this is a good foam roller for runners, the downside is that it is not flexible and may not be comfortable for those who are new to foam rolling.

There are also no grooves for massaging effect for your muscles. While this would be frustrating to more experienced athletes who are accustomed to myofascial release, this will make this roller much more gentle for newer and less intense athletes.

If you’re looking for an economical option, this still is a good fit and a nice place to start.

Pros

  • Excellent Value
  • Effective
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Stiff
  • Limited Options

Takeaway

Our Grade: B+

This foam roller does the job at a reasonable price. It is an excellent choice for someone who has never foam rolled before and wants to test it out.

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

Review: The TriggerPoint GRID is probably the most popular foam roller on the market right now and for good reason.

Not only is it flexible where you need it to be, the grooved foam it’s much more comfortable than the LuxFit. It can be stiffer when you need it and flexible as well.

It is also my favorite foam roller and the one I bring to every workout and race. I believe it to be the best massage roller for runners, cyclists, or any other endurance athlete.

This allows for a much more comfortable experience for those who are new to foam rolling. It also may increase recovery.

While these foam rollers are more expensive than their LuxFit competitors, they are a more effective option.

That is why I’ve chosen the TriggerPoint Grid as the best foam roller for runners 2019.

Pros

  • Very Effective
  • Numerous Massage Options
  • Durable
  • Light
  • Portable

Cons

  • Expensive

Takeaway

Our Grade: A

The only downside with this roller is the price. While it is not cheap, it is by far the most effective foam roller on the market.

TriggerPoint does an excellent job with all of its self massage equipment and this is no exception.

RumbleRoller Basic Bumpy Foam Roller

Review: Next on our list is the RumbleRoller. It features an extremely rigid pattern that helps deliver a deep tissue massage.

The RumbleRoller is about the same price as the Trigger Point foam roller but is structured in a pattern that can really dig deep into tightened muscles.

Why does this help?

While it might be more painful at first, the after-effects of using this roller on damaged or tight muscles is unmatched.

Pros

  • Deeper Tissue
  • Rigid
  • Effective
  • Durable
  • Light

Cons

  • Few Options
  • Expensive

Takeaway

Our Grade: A-

This foam roller is a strong option for experienced and intense athletes. It is an effective tool for repairing muscles, but will not be gentle.

While that is a good thing for repairing muscles, it may count out many less intense athletes.

REEHUT Foam Roller

Review: Our last foam roller option is an economical option.

The Gold’s Gym foam roller is especially soft, so this may be a good option for someone who is starting out in learning how to foam roll. This option is also inexpensive and boasts a large variety of sizes.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Does the job

Cons

  • Few Options
  • Not durable

Takeaway

Our Grade: B-

You get what you pay for. This roller is inexpensive and does the job, but there are no qualities that give it an argument for the best foam roller for runners.

Unless you are on a seriously tight budget, we recommend you consider one of the other options.

Next, massage sticks!

The Stick - Therapeutic Body Massage Stick

Review: The original message stick, you have probably seen The Stick advertised on your favorite runner’s Instagram page or seen it used on the sidelines at just about any sporting event.

The Stick has been the standard in massage sticks since its inception. Now it comes in different colors, but with all the same effectiveness that made it popular in the first place.

The stick is light, small, and portable while being both reasonably priced and effective. The only downside is the white rollers can sometimes be painful for certain people, especially if you are hairy.

Pros

  • Light
  • Portable
  • Small
  • Affordable
  • Effective

Cons

  • Can be uncomfortable

Takeaway

Our Grade: B+

The original massage stick, the stick does exactly what it needs to do at a reasonable price. Make sure to try it out in the store first though to make sure that it is comfortable for you.

Tiger Tail Massage Stick

Review: Similar to the Stick, the Tiger Tail Massage Stick does everything you could need it to do.

Instead of going with a large number of little white rollers, it goes with a piece of black foam to massage yourself.

To some, this solves the discomfort caused by the white rollers in the Stick, but it can be more uncomfortable for others.

Other than that, the Tiger Tail massage stick has all the same qualities: light, portable, small, and effective, but it is a touch more expensive.

Pros

  • Light
  • Portable
  • Small
  • Effective

Cons

  • Can be Uncomfortable
  • More Expensive

Takeaway

Our Grade: B+

I recommend purchasing this massage stick if the white rollers on The Stick make it too uncomfortable for you to use. Personally, this is my favorite massage stick if you take out the price.

IDSON Muscle Roller Stick

Review: This roller is a little newer to the scene but has all the same qualities of The Stick and the Tiger Tail roller.

The biggest difference?

This roller is both cheaper and more effective.

Both the handles and the rollers are very durable. Also, despite going with multiple pieces of roller that caused discomfort in the Stick, by having them fit tighter, this stick is much more comfortable.

That is why this is the best muscle roller stick for runners 2019.

Pros

  • Light
  • Portable
  • Small
  • Effective
  • Affordable
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • None

Takeaway

Our Grade: A+

While I personally like the Tiger Tail stick better, when you factor in the price this roller from IDSON is unquestionably the best.

We highly recommend it for any athlete.

We hope you enjoyed our article and can confidently make your own decision on the best foam roller for runners.

In the meantime, subscribe to our newsletter to stay posted on new information.

Hayden Cox

Hayden Cox

Hayden Cox is a post-collegiate athlete with CrackerJack Track Club and the Assistant Coach of Cross Country/Track & Field at Elon University. He recently graduated with a B.A. in English and Psychology from Furman University, where he ran on their nationally ranked Cross Country and Track programs.