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In 2020, our homes became our … well … everything. For most of us, the place we used to hang our hat is now a workplace, schoolhouse, playground, movie theater, concert venue, and, for many, a gym. When it came to transforming your living room into a gym, many went straight to purchasing the essentials — a set of weights, a treadmill, an indoor bicycle, or a yoga or exercise mat, and there was an explosion in online class subscription services.
With all this work being done to the body, how many of us invested in our pre or post-workout care? Getting your heart rate up and your body moving is an essential part of self-care, yet so is taking care of that body. This is where exercise rollers — also called foam rollers — come into play!
Foam rollers are used in a technique called self-myofascial release (SMR), which can help “relieve muscle tightness, soreness, and inflammation, and increase your joint range of motion.” Depending on how you use a foam roller, they provide a range of health benefits including easing muscle pain, increasing your range of motion, relieving back pain, promoting relaxation, and they can even reduce the physical appearance of cellulite.
Of course, with any new body-related activity, it’s always important to learn proper techniques and even have a quick discussion with a fitness expert or doctor!
When you’re ready to get rolling, here are a few super affordable, high-quality products.
1. Amazon Basics High-Density Exercise Round Foam Roller
If you’re a beginner and looking to give foam rolling a try, this Amazon Basics High-Density Exercise Round Foam Roller is super basic, affordable, and a great learning tool. From Amazon Basics, this foam roller has a high-density, polypropylene design — best for maintaining firmness over time — that’s best for balance, strength, and flexibility training, as well as rehabilitation exercises. Ultra-lightweight and medium-sized — measuring 12 inches long by six inches wide and high — this roller is great for travel, plus it’s super easy to clean. Depending on the size, the cost ranges from $10.49 to $23.99.
Nicholas Motalvo says “Fantastic. I was getting a lot of pain around my mid-back and I was told that my back muscles were very tense. I read up on foam rollers and the wonders they work so I decided to give this one a shot, since it was highly recommended on a separate website due to its durability and very low price. I went with the 36″ roller, as most guides recommended longer rollers for those who are just beginning to use them. I followed some guides on the proper use and on my first use, it hurt like crazy. I had to grit my teeth and swear a lot, but once I rolled off, I noticed my entire back felt limber, if slightly numb. The best part was that the pain was gone, and it seems for the long run. I can sit in my office chair without getting that lingering pain. I use it almost daily now, and it doesn’t hurt to use it anymore. Turns out my muscles were knotted up and they were tensing up all the time on their own, and this worked out all the issues. I’ve started using more techniques to isolate specific muscles and it feels great. I would recommend to anyone that’s looking to loosen up their muscles, particularly if they’re always tense.”
2. 321 STRONG Foam Roller
The next step up is a foam roller with a textured surface like this 321 STRONG Foam Roller! This medium-density roller focuses on penetrating the soft tissue layer of muscles to decrease pains and aches, — such as injury, sciatica, or even plantar fasciitis — while also increasing flexibility, blood flow, and flushing away stored lactic acid. Designed with a solid core and triple grid 3-dimension massage zones, this foam roller is made to mimic finger, palm, and thumb massage. With a smaller size, 12.75 inches by 5.25 inches, this roller is easy to travel with! This foam roller costs $26.99.
Leilani says “Just want to say about the few people posting pictures of the “bruising”- that is not technically a bruise, it is what’s called petechiae. And it’s one of the main reasons I bought this roller. This particular roller does a great job at not only rolling the deeper, taught muscle tissues out but also stimulates and breaks up scar tissue and the myofascia. If you bruise like some of those pictures after only a few minutes of use I would highly recommend having someone gua sha your back because petechiae occurs when there is stagnant blood that can be pushed through the compromised capillary walls and it settles in the capillary bed where it is then reabsorbed by the body and this stimulation of circulation increases the anti-inflammatory, pain-reduction, immune system functions in the body. As opposed to a bruise which is when healthy capillaries are ruptured through blunt force causing blood to soak into the tissue. So I give this roller 5 stars because it does what I bought it to do. If you’re looking for more muscle rolling less circulation increasing and myofacia stimulating I would look into a roller with a smoother surface.”
3. Rollga Foam Roller Deep Tissue Massage & Trigger Point Release Muscle Roller
Looking to gain through pain? This Rollga Deep Tissue Massage & Trigger Point Release Muscle Foam Roller is designed to improve recovery, muscle mobility, and flexibility by stimulating oxygen-rich blood flow via a super deep tissue massage. It achieves maximum stimulation via the contoured shape which fits your body specifically to target muscles without hitting bones and tendons. Rollga is proud to have been gifted with the Runners World magazine editors’ choice foam roller for 2018. This foam roller is 18 inches in length and is ultra-lightweight! A single roller costs $44.97.
LeMak says “If you’re looking for comfort, look elsewhere. This little roller locates all those areas that are tight and it makes you cringe as you’re trying to “roll it out”. It’s not comfortable. I have a lot of tight areas so my first time using this was not pleasant; HOWEVER, it does get better! It really allows for pressure release and it does feel better afterward… I promise! I didn’t realize I had so many tight areas until I started using this thing. I highly recommend it.”
4. Lightweight ShadowFit Dual Angle Foam Roller
This Lightweight ShadowFit Dual Angle Foam Roller is truly unique in its design! Created to mimic “angel wings” this foam roller targets multiple areas of each body part at one time allowing for the closest thing to a massage without an actual masseuse. The foam is medium to high-density, allowing for moderate to deep tissue massage while targeting pretty much any part of the body that needs a bit of care including arms, legs, thighs, quads, calves, joints, and even your neck. Easily controlled, super lightweight, perfect for a warm-up or cool-down! This foam roller costs $20.76.
Mohamed-Ali Alaouie says “Ok first, this roller is very High quality not like all the cheap rollers that feel cheap, it can really expand so if you’re worried about it going around your thighs do not worry. I also finally found a foam roller that is perfect for my legs, I can roll my legs fast and pretty much target my entire leg from my hip down to my ankles. The 4 rollers make it very efficient and it does not take me 20 minutes to target every muscle. I Foam roll before the gym and it actually stretches me out and triggers all my muscles to start working so I do not cramp. For the arms it works really well, I have very bad tennis and golfer elbow, so ever since I’ve used it I have been getting experiencing less and less pain. No tension what so ever.
It’s not the best to roll the neck but it’s good to use it as pressure points for the neck, so the 4 rollers give it a nice balanced pressure point. I never give reviews but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this.
5. KeShi Foam Roller Set
Perfect for the complete home gym! This KeShi Foam Roller Set comes with a basic, firm, high-density, 18-inch foam roller and a handful of select equipment to enhance your warm-up and cool-down experience. Along with the foam roller, you’ll get a 17-inch muscle roller stick, — complete with nine therapeutic spindles — two types of massage balls, — great for trigger point and myofascial release — and a stretch strap, — perfect for in-depth stretching. This entire kit focuses on maximizing your warm-up and cool-down using targeted tools. This foam roller set costs $31.99.
Courtney Herrington says “I was actually looking for a foam roller and thought I might as well buy this set since the prices was reasonable. To my amazement, I use the massage stick the most. I get a lot of shooting pains in my lower back and the stick helps with those almost instantly. They also helped when I get any cramps in my calves. The bag makes it so easy to throw in my trunk and take it on trips as well. Glad I bought this.”
6. 321 STRONG 5 in 1 Foam Roller Set
If the previous kit doesn’t quite make the grade, this 321 STRONG 5 in 1 Foam Roller Set should hit all the right marks! The kit features a triple-zone massage roller, — perfect for deep tissue massage and stretching the legs and lower back — a premium massage stick, — designed to target hard-to-roll areas such as the quads, shins, and inner thighs — a stretch strap, — for those hamstrings and quads — and 2 types of massage balls, — meant for trigger points and myofascial release. The entire kit is all about controlled intensity in order to flush lactic acid from your muscle tissue to increase athletic performance. This 5-in-1 foam roller set costs $36.54.
LeAnne Vassar says “This Foam Roller is absolutely amazing! I have been using a different style at Physical Therapy and it does not have the “nubs” that are more like Deep Tissue Massage. This is my favorite feature of this roller! I can lay on it with vertically between my shoulder blades and just release all of that tension! It works so well!! I use it on my entire body! Laying on it on my Sciatic pain is game changer! I have found areas on my body that I did not even realize that I was carrying tension. If you have ANY tension anywhere in your body you need this Foam Roller! Pay the one time and have Deep Tissue any time you need to! Do yourself a favor and release all of that tension in your body. It feels so great! And don’t forget your feet, the foundation of YOUR body!”
7. Acumobility Store The Ultimate Back Roller
This Acumobility Store The Ultimate Back Roller is another uniquely designed foam back roller and yoga wheel for targeted muscle tension release. This roller was designed by Acumobility Store’s chiropractor Dr. Sonia Pasquale to enhance spinal extension, mobility, and flexibility. The outer layer is designed with a therapeutic bump pattern, EVA molded foam that supports 1000 pounds, and a spine gap to maximize movement without injury. This extra high roller — 11.5 inches by 7.5 inches — allows you to access tough-to-roll areas including the upper, middle, and lower back. This foam roller costs $59.95.
Amazon Customer says “I am not a review writer. I don’t care to help in that way and there are people more equipped. But I feel compelled. I’ve had pain for months, all through my shoulder, neck and mid/high back. Mainly from hunching over an iPhone and slouching at a computer desk most days. Nothing could open my chest up the way I wanted, I couldn’t crack my back for relief because everything was too tight and sore and stuck, the only thing that helped temporarily was cupping to increase blood flow. I smashed buy on this at 1 am while unable to sleep from shoulder, can’t remember the last time I bought any single item over $40. I WOULD BUY IT 17 MORE TIMES. I lay around on it all day. I cry from the relief it brings my back. My spine crackles all up and down it with joy untold. I tell it my dreams. It is my hero. Do yourself a favor if you are constantly digging a tennis ball into your back. Upgrade it.”
8. Doeplex Muscle Roller Massage Stick
Foam rollers come in all shapes and sizes, such as this super narrow Doeplex Muscle Roller Massage Stick. While the wide foam rollers are great for larger muscles and areas of the body — including thighs, gluteus, and back — a massage stick is designed for smaller, targeted areas. The Doeplex Muscle Roller focuses on alleviating pain such as cramps, knots, and sore muscles all over the body. Along with warming-up properly and recovering quickly, the smaller massage stick is great at reducing banishing cellulite. This massage stick costs $14.99.
Harold E. says “This works great, smooth operation, you can adjust how much pressure you get and it works great on my large muscle groups in the legs especially…because of its size you would not use it in small areas it is for large muscle groups really.”
9. Epitomie Fitness VIBRA Vibrating Foam Roller
One of the more recent upgrades to the basic foam rolling technique is vibration! This Epitomie Fitness VIBRA Vibrating Foam Roller sends out powerful pulses that reverberate within tight muscles to extinguish tension. Vibrating foam rollers are excellent for rehabilitating from vigorous workouts. This specific version can be customized with 4 intensity settings and 1 pulsating setting, all of which fluctuate to reach your ultimate restoration and maximum athletic performance. The Epitomie Fitness vibrating foam roller has a 4-hour battery that is fully rechargeable via USB cable and is capable of up to 3600 RPM. This foam roller lands in the mid-range of pricing at $99.86.
Doll Parts says “Wonder product!!! I just received my vibra vibrating foam roller. I was looking for a product that was more affordable than other vibrating muscle devices out there and came across this product. What I found is this product has much more to offer in the way of adjustable speeds and power than the other products out there, not to mention at a much lower price. Couldn’t be any more satisfied.”
10. Theagun Wave Roller Vibrating Bluetooth Enabled Smart Foam Roller
Alright, so you’ve been foam rolling for quite some time, you’re a pro, and want to take it to the next level? This Theagun Wave Roller Vibrating Bluetooth Enabled Smart Foam Roller has every upgrade you could ask for! This foam roller is designed with a hypo-allergenic EVA high-density foam that offers full-body Support. When it comes to technology, Theagun sources the best with Bluetooth connectivity, — pairs with the Therapbody App to effortlessly control speed and routines — and a 3-hour battery that is easily rechargeable. This foam roller is 12-inches long, which means it’s great for a full-body rollout! With the extra perks comes a bit of a hefty price. This vibrating foam roller costs $149.00.
Keith Gaffney says “Simply amazing!!! Comfortable pain relief and stretching of any and all parts of the body. I will purchase the theragun next. Amazing product.”
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