For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
Foam rollers are oddly-shaped contraptions but they are extremely versatile in their function and use. You can use them to stretch, increase balance, improve your flexibility and even to enhance exercises. But in most cases, you’ll want a foam roller to work out knots in your muscles.
They come in different colors and sizes, which have different surfaces and densities. With all of these varieties, it’s confusing to pick the best one for you. A rule of thumb I use—if it doesn’t hurt anymore, move on to a denser and different roller.
Check out these varieties and see what may work best for you.
Low density foam roller
This option is great for beginners or those looking for low pressure. It is also good for runners who are rehabbing an injury. Start with the full 3’ size. Try this one
High-density foam roller
While the surface is still smooth, this is a step up from the standard foam roller. It’s a higher density and will add more pressure. With this high-density roller, you can also choose between firm or extra-firm. Try this one
Textured surface foam rollers
These bumps can be intimidating, but they are designed to add even more direct pressure to release the knot. Different patterns are designed to mimic finger or palm pressure, as if you were getting a massage. There are many different brands and textures you can choose from. Try this one
This rechargeable foam roller uses vibrations with three different speeds that help to loosen up muscles. While this roller may best mimic a massage in reducing soreness, it comes at a cost. It’s significantly more expensive than any other roller.
You can find each of these types of foam rollers in different lengths. The length is your preference. Some give you more room to move around on and some are smaller for travel. Try this one
Whether you’re a roll-iever or not, these great choices should get you started. Happy rolling!