16 Best Foam Rollers for Back Pain & Recovery Reviewed 2024

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16 Best Foam Rollers for Back Pain & Recovery 2024 [Complete Guide]

We all know how sore our muscles can be after a good gym session.

If there was a simple solution to reducing delayed onset muscle soreness and speeding recovery in time for the next work-out, we’d grab it, wouldn’t we?

Well, guess what?

There is a solution! It’s called foam rolling and it really works.

two girls training in gym with foam roller

You’ve probably seen foam rollers floating around at the gym. They’ve become a pretty popular tool for carrying out self-massage, specifically myofascial release.

Well, having your own foam roller at home opens up a world of opportunities for speeding your recovery and preventing injury.

This article will introduce you to the best foam rollers on the market right now for rolling out your muscles at home.

Later, we’ll go into a bit more depth as to how best to use a foam roller. But for now, read on for the inside scoop on your next piece of essential gym equipment!

TOP 16 Best Foam Rollers 2024 Reviewed

LuxFit Extra Firm Speckled Foam Roller

LuxFit Extra Firm Speckled Foam Roller with Online Instructional Video (Blue, 18-Inch)
  • Foam Rollers For Muscles – LuxFit High Density Foam Roller is great for Physical Therapy, before or after Exercise, Yoga, and Massage Therapy. Foam Muscle Rollers helps to relieve Muscles Tension and increase Muscle Reflexology. Form Roller. Body Roller
  • Foam Exercise Roller Helps Prevent Muscle Injury - Perfect for positioning, balance, postural and muscle re-education, spinal stabilization, body awareness and coordination, ranging and strengthening activities. Yoga - Fitness Foam Roller. Foam Roller for IT Band
  • Extra Firm Gym Foam Roller - Molded polypropylene foam technology has a 2 lbs. per cubic foot density, Smooth surface, Will not lose its shape after heavy use, and Repels Liquids. Trigger Point Foam Roller. Stretching Foam Roler stretcher
  • 4 Sizes Available For All Your Needs – 36 Inch, 24 Inch, 18 Inch, 12 Inch. 36 Inch foam roller is our largest size. Black Foam Rollers are great for Back Pain and Back Exercises. Great for core stabilization, balance, and stamina. 6 Inch wide Round Foam Roller. Foam roller for physical therapy & exercise
  • Full 10 Year Limited Warranty - MADE IN THE USA! - with Free Online Instructional VIDEO - Using your own body weight let the faom roller do a MyoFascial release to provide Maximum Relaxation Relief. Deep Tissue Foam Roller Massage. Foam Roller for Back. Leg Roller. Exercise Roller

Review: This is one of the most popular foam rollers on the market.

The longer length options available make rolling really easy if you’re a beginner as you don’t have to keep readjusting the position of the roller against your body.


  • Comes in 4 different length options, 12”, 18”, 24” and 36”.
  • Water repellent material means you don’t have to worry about the roller absorbing your sweat.
  • Extra firm foam holds its shape after repeated uses.
  • Affordable and durable.


  • The firmness will feel hard against your muscles to begin with until you get used to it.


This is one of the best foam rollers 2024 being affordable, good quality and reliable. The long length available also makes it one of the best foam rollers for back pain.

Triggerpoint Grid Foam Roller

TriggerPoint 13" Multi-Density Foam Roller - Relieves Muscles, Improves Mobility
  • IMPROVE MUSCLE RECOVERY – Multi-density GRID features a three-dimensional surface that provides more efficient muscle recovery by promoting tissue aeration as you roll, while promoting the flow of blood and oxygen for optimal muscle recovery
  • OPTIMIZED FOR COMFORT – Unique foam construction with proprietary Distrodensity Zones is perfect to use on both tight, sore muscles, as well as soft tissue, for a more effective recovery experience
  • PERSONALIZED ROLLING EXPERIENCE – Multi-density GRID pattern of varying ridges and nodules replicate the feeling of a massage therapist's hands, allowing users to utilize different areas of the roller to target key body parts
  • DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE – EVA-foam-wrapped, hollow core design is firmer than traditional foam rollers, delivering a deeper compression-like a sports massage on tight muscles, knots, and kinks to achieve comfortable, effective, and targeted muscle recovery
  • BUILT FOR FREQUENT USE – Durable EVA-foam roller maintains its shape without breaking—even after repeated use—allowing you to use the same roll-intensive recovery patterns massage therapists use for highly effective recovery

Review: This is easily one of the best foam rollers 2024, being extremely popular with users and physiotherapists alike.

It is designed to be long lasting with ability to provide targeted massage. The hollow-core design is pretty unique in the world of foam rollers but it works, having a solid construction that won’t collapse.


  • Comes with free online instructional videos.
  • The multidimensional surface helps with circulation and recovery.
  • Very durable.
  • Very firm.


  • A little pricier than other models.


This is easily one of the best foam rollers 2024 (plus it comes highly recommended from my fellow fitness friends). It is the roller you’ll want to invest in if you intend to use it for massage purposes for many years to come.

Rolling With It EVA Foam Roller

Rolling With It Foam Roller with High Density for Physical Therapy, Muscle Roller for Exercise and Muscle Recovery, Eco-Friendly Back Roller, Firm and Smooth Surface Massage Roller, Size: 36 inches
  • ★ This listing is for our 36 inch X 6 inch foam roller: Please check the correct size - Our most popular 36 x 6 roller covers all your needs. Our premium EVA body roller will not flake or chip or lose its shape - EVER! Our Premium EVA back rollers offer a firm solid core with soft to the touch exterior and will last forever. EVA is eco-friendly, completely recyclable and contains no formamide or phthalates. Get what the professionals use and experience immediate pain relief today
  • ★ Quality assurance you can trust: With USA based Engineering & Lifetime Customer Support & Rigorous Third-Party Testing -we are so confident you will LOVE the professional quality of our foam roller massager that we will refund you if you aren't happy or anything goes wrong - EVER! Add to your cart now to enjoy some of the benefits of foam rolling: Better Sleep - Relaxed Muscles - Smooth Toned skin - Chronic Pain Relief - Increased Mobility & Flexibility
  • ★ Kiss muscle pain goodbye: Tight muscles prevent you from performing your best. Poor mobility interferes with sleep and other daily activities. Sometimes stretching alone is not enough. This is why Chiropractors - Physical Therapists - Personal Trainers - Medical Professionals ALL recommend smooth firm foam rollers as the safest method for relieving back pain - neck pain - core stabilization - trigger point treatment - physical therapy - improving balance
  • ★ Injury Prevention is key: Foam rolling breaks up fat fibers and increases oxygenated blood flow for beautifully toned, rejuvenated looking skin and reduces fluid retention. Say goodbye to unsightly cellulite and feeling bloated. Soothe your mind and tired, achy muscles by using our exercise roller before bed for more restorative sleep. Stand taller and feel stronger with Improved Posture - Core Stabilization - Improved Balance & Coordination - Relaxed Muscles
  • ★ Save with professional grade relief: Skip the expensive massage and get deep tissue therapy and myofascial release anytime you want! Improve muscle mobility & increase flexibility today. Our form roller is perfect for muscle reflexology, pre - post workout for Crossfit, Pilates, Yoga, Weight Training, Bodybuilding. Running, or ANY fitness enthusiasts. Our foam muscle roller will have you rolling your way to muscle soreness relief in minutes

Review: This foam roller is among the best of the best with a comfortable smooth texture, a good amount of firmness and very durable, good quality material that will not lose its shape.


  • 3 lengths available making ideal for use on all body parts.
  • Eco-friendly EVA foam is free of phthalates and does not chip or flake.
  • It has a good amount of grip as opposed to slippery Styrofoam which makes it good for other exercises as well as rolling.


  • Has a slight chemical smell when you first open it but the smell dissipates after a few days.


This is a top quality foam roller that will last a long time and can be used for other exercises as well as rolling. This is the best foam roller for stretching exercises due to its grip.

SPRI Foam Roller

SPRI Foam Roller High Density Extra Firm Muscle Massage Roller, 36-Inch
  • HIGH DENSITY FOAM ROLLER: Ultra rigid foam roller provides maximum firmness for an extra tough and firm massage
  • BUILT FOR REPEATED USE: Foam roller maintains shape after repeated use and is built to a professional grade quality and designed for commercial gyms and clubs to be used 100 times a day versus 100 times a year in a home gym
  • IMPROVE CORE STRENGTH: Perfect for developing core stabilization, lower body balance and stamina
  • MUSCLE MASSAGE RELIEF: May also be used for gentle stretching and self-mobilization of joints and spine
  • MASSAGE GUIDE INCLUDED: A downloadable massage guide is included to help get you started.

Review: This is another top rated foam roller that will last a long time and hold its shape. It comes in 2 length options (18” or 36”) and is made of high density foam with appropriate firmness for its rolling purpose.


  • Firm, high density, good quality foam.
  • Slightly softer than the Trigger Point above could make it good for beginners.
  • Long length is good for rolling the back.


  • The ends may rise off the ground a little when you roll.


This is reliable, good quality foam roller which is an example of the best foam roller for runners, with the right level of firmness and a smooth comfortable texture for use on the legs.

AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller

Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller for Exercise and Recovery - 36 Inch, Black
  • High-density foam roller in Black
  • Ideal for balance, strengthening, flexibility, and rehab exercises
  • Firm, durable polypropylene maintains shape; molded edges for added comfort
  • Lightweight and easy to carry to class and to reposition during workouts
  • Wipes clean easily

Review: This is a good quality roller for an affordable price which makes it a great option if you want to spend a little less. It is firm and durable while also being lightweight.


  • Lightweight and easy to clean.
  • Affordable.
  • Maintains its shape and firmness over time.
  • Comes in 3 different lengths and several color options.


  • It has a raised seam down the sides which you may want to remove with your nail scissors.


This roller is a good balance of quality and affordability, easily being the best foam roller for athletes on a budget.

Reehut Foam Roller

Review: This is a good quality high density foam roller, about which I’ve heard a lot of good feedback. It is durable, lightweight and easy to clean


  • Comes in 4 different length options.
  • Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) foam is lightweight, non-toxic and recyclable.
  • Ant-slip textured surface means you can use it on smooth floors.
  • Very good value for money.


  • Definitely on the firm side of foam rollers so may be too firm unless you’re experienced with rolling.


This is a reliable foam roller, similar to the AmazonBasics roller but a little firmer. The long length version of this roller is another of the best foam rollers for back pain.

Gaiam Restore Muscle Massage Foam Roller

Gaiam Restore Foam Roller for Muscle Massage - 36" Long Foam Roller, Deep Tissue Muscle Massager for Sore Muscles & Stimulation - Total Body Pain Relief, Back, Neck, Foot, Calf, Leg, Arm - Grey
  • Foam Roller for Physical Therapy- This medium-density foam roller is the ideal muscle massage and recovery tool to assist in pre- and post-workout to alleviate pain from sore muscles and joint pain for athletes and physical therapy clients.
  • Smooth yet Firm - The durable yet smooth foam is designed for repeated use and pressure so you can apply your desired pressure while the roller maintains its shape and density.
  • Whole Body Massage - At 36 inches long, the muscle massager is the ideal size to effectively target all muscle groups in the back, arms, and legs like tight glutes, calves, and quads, but it can also can handle full body work.
  • Fast Relief - Get fast pain relief and total body recovery from exercising and workouts, arthritis, and joint pain with the muscle roller during yoga sessions and physical therapy appointments or us for pre-workout warmups to get your muscles ready.
  • For the Home or Gym - Our versatile foam rollers for muscle massage are a must-have workout equipment for the gym, around your home, or for physical therapy sessions. The foam roller can be easily stored.

Review: This medium density foam roller is firm enough to give you an effective massage but more gentle than the high density foam rollers on this list making it one of the best foam rollers for beginners.


  • Semi-firm density is well-suited for beginners.
  • Includes a 15 minute digital introductory workout.
  • Comes in 18” or 36” lengths.
  • Doubles as a roller for exercise purposes as well as massage.


  • Less durable than the firm, high density rollers on this list.


This roller is a great choice if you’re looking for a slightly softer alternative to the high density rollers on this list.

Yes4All Premium PE Foam Roller

Yes4All Premium Soft-Density Round PE Foam Roller for Pilates, Yoga, Stretching, Balance & Core Exercises - 12 inch Purple
  • HIGH QUALITY FOAM ROLLERS: Made from high quality PE 30% heavier & firmer than standard foam rollers; Smooth, anti slip, lightweight yet can retain support 250 pounds and shape after heavy uses
  • LIGHTWEIGHT AND PORTABLE: Come in a variety of colors and lengths to choose from, easy to choose the perfect fit, and bring with you anywhere be it the park or your office
  • REAP ALL THE BENEFITS OF FOAM ROLLING: Yes4All Premium Medium Density Round PE Foam Rollers are ideal to trigger all your tight muscles pre and post workouts, support the natural healing process
  • IDEAL FOR SELF MASSAGE: Great for improving muscle mobility, flexibility for all sports enthusiasts, pilates, bodybuilding, running, weight training, yoga
  • HELP INCREASE RANGE OF MOTION: Foam rolling supports in stretching muscles, thus expanding the range of movements; You can also feel a whole lot better now that tight spots and discomfort are targeted and reduceda

Review: This is another great medium density foam roller that is ideal for beginners as it is slightly less firm than the high density types.

Its softer foam will introduce you to rolling without having you cry out in pain.


  • Available in a range of colors and 4 different lengths.
  • Made of 100% PE non-toxic foam.
  • Made in the USA and designed to be a little heavier than other medium density rollers.


  • It won’t last as long as the firmer high density rollers and will eventually lose its shape depending on how much you use it.


This is another of the best foam rollers for beginners, being softer and easier to use than the extra firm rollers.

OPTP Pro-Roller Soft Density Foam Roller

OPTP PRO-Roller Soft Density Foam Roller – Low Density Soft Foam Roller for Physical Therapy, Pilates Foam Roller and Yoga Foam Roll Exercises, and Muscle Recovery - Blue 36" x 6"
  • Professional Quality Foam Roller: This soft foam roller is made with durable EVA closed-cell soft foam, perfect for use at the gym, studio, clinic or at home. It's easy to wipe clean, unlike more common open-cell foam rollers.
  • Versatile: Use the PRO-ROLLER Soft Foam Roller for Pilates roller exercises, massage rollers for muscles, as a foam roller for yoga, balance, stability, mobility and rehabilitation.
  • OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Density: This soft foam roller is ideal as a back roller when lying supine, for self-massage, and to roll out tight areas to release tension.
  • Maximum Durability Roller: This 36 inch foam roller is made with closed-cell, heat-molded EVA foam to outperform and outlast store model foam rollers.
  • Standard Size, 36 in foam roller: Measures 36” long x 6” diameter.

Review: This is another great option for beginners to foam rolling, being even softer than the two medium density options above.

It’s comfortable to use, but not so soft that you don’t benefit from using it.


  • Made of closed-cell EVA foam, it is water resistant and easy to clean.
  • Popular with users for the MELT method.
  • Soft enough for beginners to comfortably get used to foam rolling.


  • Pretty expensive compared to most of the rollers on this list.


This is a good quality, soft foam roller which is another of the best foam rollers for beginners and well suited for the MELT method.

321 Strong Foam Roller

321 STRONG Foam Roller - Medium Density Deep Tissue Massager for Muscle Massage and Myofascial Trigger Point Release, with 4K eBook - Orange
  • 12. 75 inches x 5. 25 inch diameter , lightweight yet rugged solid core massage roller with EVA tread and triple grid 3D massage zones mimics the finger , palm , and thumb of a therapist's hands .
  • Medium density muscle roller is comfortable to use - making it easy for beginners , but still effective at penetrating the soft tissue layer of tired muscles . Soft enough to use while in pain from lower back injury , sciatica or plantar fasciitis .
  • One of the best recovery tools to treat muscle pain , increase performance and flexibility. Rolling before and after exercise sis part of a great stretching routine . Increases blood flow to massage site , flushing away stored lactic acid .
  • Stretch overworked and strained muscles of the leg , arms , and feet by rolling during your warm up and cool downs . Provides instant benefit to the hamstring , IT band , glutes , and calves by delivering superior massages at home or in the gym .
  • Loved by runners , exercise athletes , yoga and pilates students , swimmers , physical or sports therapy patients , and aid those just doing a normal fitness workout . Great for the arch of the foot , and any part of the superior body but the spine or neck .

Review: This is a medium density roller with a similar grid design as the popular Triggerpoint rollers, but that is designed to be soft enough to use when in pain.


  • Lightweight and easy to transport at just 1 lb.
  • 3 different zones of textures on the surface provide options for different intensity massages.
  • 100% EVA foam core.


  • The surface texture means it can be tricky to get a smooth roll going as the zones change.


If you can get used to how to you use it, this is great medium density textured roller.

USA Foam Roller

AFTRYOUGO USA Foam Roller, Extra Firm High Density Foam Rollers for Exercise - 36 inch Black & Blue (2.8lbs/ft³ Density) with 3 Year Warranty
  • 36 inch - extra Firm foam roller - 2. 8 lbs. Per cubic foot Density (2. 8lbs/ft³ Density) - Super high Density foam roller with molded Polypropylene foam technology. Extra firm foam roller: one of the firmest foam rollers on the market - will not lose its s
  • Best foam rollers for muscles - foam rolling with your own body weight for self-myofascial release to release muscle tightness. Use a foam muscle roller to help relieve muscle tension.
  • New color roller - 36 inch Black foam roller with added blue color for a new look. With the speckled blue color every 36 x 6 inch foam roller has a unique look with a smooth surface that repels liquids.
  • Premium foam exercise roller - great for foam roller exercises for balance, flexibility and strengthening. Great for physical therapy, Pilates, yoga, before or after exercise, and massage therapy.
  • Full 3 year limited - made in the USA - usa foam roller fitness products!

Review: Warning: users should know what they’re getting themselves into when they purchase a high density, extra firm foam roller. It is supposed to be hard, and it will hurt, but that is how you know it’s doing its job! This roller is no exception.


  • Very affordable.
  • One of the firmest rollers on the market.
  • Two length options available.


  • The extra firmness may take a bit of getting used to.


If you’ve been rolling for a while and are looking to step it up to the next level, this could be the foam roller you’re looking for. If you’re prepared for it, this is the best foam roller for back pain.

Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High Intensity Vibrating Roller

Review: Vibrating massage rollers are designed to give a superior massage when compared to regular foam rollers by delivering vibrations that penetrate the muscles and relieve tension while being less painful than conventional rolling.


  • 3 Vibration intensities.
  • 2 Hours of battery life and rechargeable batteries.
  • Dual textured polypropylene shell.


  • Can be noisy if using on a non-carpeted floor.
  • Some issues with charging.


This is the best vibrating foam roller available right now, being top quality, reliable and effective. The vibrations also make it a great choice when looking for the best foam roller for lower back pain.

NextRoller 3-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller

Review: Similar to the Hyperice above but more affordable, this is another great option for a vibrating foam roller if you’re looking for a more effective massage than just foam rolling.


  • 3 intensities of vibrations to choose from.
  • 2 hour battery life is more time that you need for a solid massage.
  • Textured surface provides even deeper massage.


  • Makes a slightly funky crackling sounds when you roll on it for some people but this doesn’t affect it.


This is among the best vibrating foam roller models on the market.

Rumbleroller Deep-Tissue Massage Roller

RumbleRoller - Textured Muscle Foam Roller Manipulates Soft Tissue Like A Massage Therapist
  • The RumbleRoller is unique among foam rollers with its sturdy, textured pattern of bumps
  • Deep massage of the RumbleRoller not only relieves sore muscles, it digs into connective tissue and fascia to help circulate blood and oxygen for pain relief and faster muscle recovery
  • Enhance your performance in any activity by releasing muscle tightness, easing connective tissue tension, and increasing general flexibility with the RumbleRoller

Review: Not to be used by the faint-hearted, this deep-tissue massage roller really does target the deep tissue and will be painful, there is no getting around that – but that’s how you know it’s working!

Should only be used by experienced rollers as it will be too painful for beginners.


  • Deep-tissue massage without having to pay to visit a massage therapist.
  • Very firm, durable and long lasting.
  • The right amount of firmness for a solid massage.


  • Not suitable for beginners or those with a low pain threshold.


This is the best massage foam roller if you’re looking for a deep-tissue treatment.

Rollga Foam Roller PRO

Rollga PRO - The BETTER Foam Roller for Flexibility, Muscle Recovery, Back & Neck Massage, & Exercise (Black)
  • THE BUMPS target & release muscles better.
  • Spine, bones, & tendons drop into THE GROOVES to prevent compression, damage, or bruising.
  • THE ENDS are rounded to enable use against a wall for less pressure.
  • Superior to flat rollers on improving Flexibility, Muscle Recovery, and Back & Neck Massage.
  • DURABLE - Professional grade foam that keeps its shape and can hold over 2000 lbs.

Review: This foam roller has a different shape to the smooth rollers above, being contoured to bypass the bones when rolling on your back.

You’ll either find it works really well for you, or that you prefer that smooth shape of the more conventional rollers.


  • Contoured shape allows for contact with specific muscles while avoiding tendons or bones which is ideal for the back and could be a great intermediate step to ITB rolling.
  • Durable and hardwearing, it will retain its shape and firmness.
  • Versatile shape can be used on all body parts.


  • A little more pricey than other rollers.


This is the best foam roller for upper back pain due to its contoured shape which will effectively reach tight areas around the shoulder blades and either side of the spine.

Its shape may also make it the best foam roller for lower back pain, effectively relieving the lumbar spine muscles without putting pressure on the spine itself.

Because You Can Fitness Muscle Roller Stick

BecauseYouCan Fitness Muscle Roller Stick, 18 Inch
  • STOP SUFFERING MUSCLE SORENESS , ACHES , CRAMPS , and KNOTS - This Roller Stick is designed to give you a full body, deep tissue massage. The stick targets trigger points to alleviate muscle cramps , charliehorses , aches , and overall muscle fatigue
  • FEEL THE DIFFERENCE INSTANTLY with the best self massage tool on the market. Premium muscle rollers provide relief from muscle cramping , tightness , and stiffness in the legs after exercise. Trigger Point Stick acts as a therapy roller for muscles through Myofascial Release
  • INCREASE FLEXIBILITY AND ACCELERATE MUSCLE RECOVERY - Perfect leg roller , quad massager , calf massager , portable massage roller for muscles - Used as a Mobility Stick for physical therapy and trigger point relief both before and after exercise. The best muscle roller stick for athletes.
  • SUPERIOR QUALITY AND DESIGN: Nine Individual Pressure-Sensitive Rollers Wrapped Around a Solid Steel Core Create a Durable, Easy-to-Use, Lightweight Tool That’s Perfect for Both Home Use and Travel. Toss in Your Gym Bag and Go!

Review: A slightly different option from the foam rollers above, massage sticks like this one use the same principle but give a deeper massage due to the narrower diameter.

The handles stay still in your hands while the middle sections roll over your muscles.


  • Solid steel core is durable and won’t bend.
  • Small enough to easily transport in your gym bag.
  • 9 separate rollers are pressure sensitive and will roll at different speeds for a superior massage.
  • Ideal for the arch of your foot.


  • Not suitable for your back unless you can get someone else to do it for you!


This massage stick can be an alternative to a foam roller or complement it, providing a deeper, more intense massage.

This is a great choice if you’re looking for the best portable foam roller.

Introduction to Foam Rollers

A foam roller is literally a piece of relatively firm foam in a cylindrical shape that is designed to lie on the ground and allow you to move your body weight over it.

Allowing certain parts of your body to rest on the foam roller creates a massaging effect as the force of gravity creates pressure on the muscle that is in contact with the foam roller.

As self-massage using your hands can be tricky to carry out effectively, a foam roller makes self-massage much easier.

Known as the “poor man’s massage”, foam rolling helps to release the fascia and allow your muscles to recover more effectively.

The fascia is the thin layer of connective tissue that runs over and around all of the muscles in your body, containing them and separating them from organs and other muscles.

In order for your muscles to stretch and recover after a workout, the fascia must also be stretched and released. Foam rolling is one of the most effective ways to do this.

man using a foam roller

Benefits of Using a Foam Roller

Self-myofascial release by foam rolling can help to relieve pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness resulting from strenuous physical activity.

Carried out prior to working out, foam rolling can also temporarily increase flexibility and reduce the chances of injury.

Done after a work-out, foam rolling aids in recovery.

Foam rollers are especially useful for massaging parts of the body that are hard to stretch.

For example, massaging the iliotibial band (ITB) with a foam roller is the most effective way to stretch out the ITB, as conventional stretches for the ITB can be pretty awkward to put into practice in an effective way.

Most people’s ITBs are pretty tight so rolling your ITB with a foam roller will be painful the first time you do it.

However, it is worth working through the pain and getting to the point where you can roll out your ITB relatively easily, as a tight ITB is one of the most common causes of injury in active people.

Other parts of the body that benefit greatly from foam rolling include the quads, calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes and upper back.

Types of Foam Rollers

Foam rollers vary depending on their diameter, firmness and texture.

The best muscle roller for you will be one that matches the intensity of the massage you’re looking for.

For beginners, softer foam rollers will allow a more gentle introduction to the technique and allow your muscles time to get used to the sensation.

It’s important to introduce yourself gradually to foam rolling by starting with a softer roller as you’ll find it much easier to keep your muscles relaxed and they’ll get a chance to benefit from the rolling.

If you start with a roller that is too firm, the pain of rolling will make you tense your muscles and you won’t experience any release.

As you get used to foam rolling you can increase the firmness of the roller you use and you might even start to enjoy the pain!

Most rollers have a diameter of 6” and vary in length. Longer lengths are better suited for rolling your upper back as they can span the width of your shoulders without you falling off either side.

If you’re primarily focussing on your legs, shorter foam rollers can be easier to maneuver.

For most people, a foam roller with a smooth surface will be more than adequate. But for people with seriously knotted and tight muscles, old injuries or scar tissue, textured foam rollers that give a more intense massage may be the way to go.

How to Use a Foam Roller

Using a foam roller is easy, but it takes practice to get really effective at it.

Your muscles need to get used to the sensation of rolling so that the pain isn’t too intense and you can stay relaxed without tensing up and forgetting to breathe.

Your arms also need to be strong enough to hold the part of your body that you’re not rolling so that you can control the amount of body weight you’re putting on the roller.

There are some great videos online with foam roller demonstrations.

But the basic idea is to place the foam roller on the ground, rest the muscle that needs massaging on top of the foam roller and move your body weight slowly over the roller.

Ideally, you should spend a couple of minutes on each muscle and hold for 30 seconds once you find the spot that needs the attention.

Don’t forget to breathe!

If you need more intensity, increase the load of body weight on the roller by lessening the amount of weight that you’re putting on the ground.

If you’re primarily focussing on rolling your back, there are definitely some things you shouldn’t be doing!

So, make sure you’ve checked out some tutorials on foam rolling your back to keep your spine safe – it’s an important part of your body!

And remember, to get the best results from your foam rolling, it needs to become a regular part of your stretching routine.

Foam rolling once in a blue moon isn’t going to make any significant difference to your muscle health. Ideally, you should spend some time foam rolling as often as you work out, ie. most days of the week.

If you’re interested in more running specific foam roller know-how, check out our article on foam rollers for runners.

Other Ways of Using Your Foam Roller

Foam rollers aren’t just for massage. They can be used for stretching and core strength exercises as well.

Most strengthening exercises using the foam roller involve balancing on the roller in a certain way.

For example, many body weight exercises can be modified to include the roller, adding a balance component which makes the exercise harder.

For example, doing press-ups with either your hands or feet balanced on the roller make a simple exercise much more challenging, activating many more muscles.

However, this shouldn’t be attempted unless you’re already very competent with press ups as the risk for injury is fairly high.

The abs in particular can get a great work out using a foam roller.

One great example involves getting into the plank position with your shins on the foam roller.

You then bring your knees towards your arms by rolling the roller underneath your shins until it reaches the tops of your feet.

Then you push your legs back until your legs are straight again and the roller is underneath the tops of your shins where it started.

DIY Foam Rollers

If you’re in a pinch, whether you’re waiting for your newly purchased foam roller to arrive or haven’t yet decided which to purchase, some household items can make great substitute foam rollers to keep your muscles supple and knot-free.

Some of the most effective household items are:

  • A wide diameter wooden rolling pin.
  • A stainless steel water bottle or a plastic bottle that’s been placed in the freezer.
  • A length of PVC pipe.
  • A tennis ball.

Bear in mind that these objects won’t be as effective as a foam roller, but they can be a great temporary solution.

The rolling pin and drink bottle option may be a little hard if your muscles are unaccustomed to massage, but wrapping a towel around them can help with this.

That concludes this guide to Foam Rollers.

I’ve hope you’ve found it interesting and informative and now feel confident about including foam rollers in your exercise and recovery regime.

Be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already, and feel free to comment below if you’ve had some personal experience with foam rollers.