Work out that muscle tightness by choosing a foam roller with the density, texture and size that’s right for you.
A foam roller is a great tool for giving yourself a well-deserved massage between RMT appointments. While foam rolling isn’t always the most comfortable process, it’s great for releasing the knots and adhesions in your muscles that have built up over time.
So where do you start?
We’ve broken down the main categories of foam rollers here and will explain who each is best suited for and how to go about choosing a foam roller that’s right for your body.
Read more: Full Body Foam Rolling Routine
Choosing a foam roller
If you’ve ever ventured out to shop for a foam roller, you may have noticed just how many different options are available to you. Some are short, others have bumps, some even vibrate.
When searching for the foam roller that’s right for you, there are a few things to consider:
- Density. This will determine how hard or soft the roller feels against your muscles.
- Texture. This describes the surface of the roller, which can provide more or less pressure.
- Size. This provides you with the option of portability vs. versatility.
Foam rollers come in basically three density options: low, moderate and hard. As a general rule of thumb, the density of the roller should mimic the density of the person using it.
If you’re using a roller that’s too soft for your body, you probably won’t notice a very effective result; if you use one that’s too hard, you may experience bruising and pressure that’s too intense. Both sides of the coin can inhibit you from getting a good massage and possibly result in additional tightness and discomfort. A very “Goldilocks” issue.
Best suited for: people who are just starting out or who are already sore from a workout.
These rollers are the lightest ones available and are therefore the most forgiving in terms of pressure. As this type of roller uses a lower-density foam, it is less rigid and will therefore reduce the level of discomfort you’ll experience as you use it. However, this also means that it will lose it’s shape faster than a higher-density roller so you may need to replace it more often.
If you’re just beginning to foam roll, this is probably a good place to start. As the roller wears out and your technique and tolerance improve, you can decide if you want to replace it with another low-density roller or move to a denser option.
Low-density rollers we love:
Best suited for: people who foam roll with some regularity.
Medium-density foam rollers are the all-purpose catchall. They’re denser than the above option so they’ll be more intense on the muscles as you roll but they won’t lose their shape quite as easily with regular use.
Moderate-density rollers we love:
Best suited for: athletes who need a quick recovery time and more concentrated pressure.
This type of roller comes in a few different materials, ranging from high-density foam to PVC pipe wrapped in light cushioning. Due to the structural firmness of these rollers, they’re great for maintaining their shape and providing longevity of the product, but the amount of pressure they create can be quite intense.
If you’re not a fan of foam rolling to begin with or find yourself tensing up due to discomfort, opt for one of the lighter options to get a better result.
High-density rollers we love:
Just like density, the different texture options of a foam roller can promote more or less intensity based on how much surface area is hitting the muscles at once.
Smooth foam rollers
These rollers are made with a consistent texture and therefore spread out the pressure evenly across a larger surface area along the muscle. This creates a lower intensity while rolling than it’s textured equivalent.
Textured foam rollers
With their raised knobs and ridges, these rollers target more precise points along the muscle as you roll, providing a higher level of intensity and pressure.
Foam roller sizes
Long rollers (36 inches)
These are the most versatile and stable options. They are great for accessing most of the muscles you’ll want to roll through and additionally give you enough length to lay flat along the top for additional stretching options (ie. chest).
Short rollers (24 inches)
These rollers are great for more precise areas (ie. arms, lats, calves, inner thighs) and are good to travel with. They are a bit more limited in their versatility though so you may lose out on hitting certain muscle groups.
There may be affiliate links in this post, which means that if you purchase something as a result of clicking one of these links, we’ll probably receive some “thank you” money. You won’t ever pay more for purchasing through our links and please be assured that we only recommend products we have personally used and love in our personal training studio!