Walk into any gym, and you’ll no doubt see someone spread out on the floor, rolling about on a foam roller. While it might look silly, using a foam roller for deep tissue muscle massaging is an effective way to ease tension after workouts and accelerate recovery.
However, with a risk of injuring yourself if used incorrectly, it’s important to consider the type of foam roller best suited to your needs before trying one out for yourself.
With a range of densities and textured rollers to choose from, The Recommended spoke to two sports physiotherapists to find out what you should look for and avoid when shopping for a foam roller online. You can read their expert advice in full at the bottom of this page.
The best foam rollers at a glance:
- Best medium-density foam roller: Core Balance Foam Roller Massager
- Best high-density foam roller: Maximo Fitness Foam Roller
- Best for durability: PhysioRoom EVA Foam Roller
- Best versatile foam roller: 66fit EVA Foam Roller 10cm x 90cm
- Best for portability: Meglio Foam Roller 45cm
- Best of both worlds: FitBeast Fitness Foam Rollers For Deep Tissue Massage
- Best long foam roller: PhysioWorld Foam Roller
- Best high-tech foam roller: Pulseroll Vibrating Foam Roller for Deep Tissue Muscle Massage
- Best textured foam roller: Starwood Sports Foam Roller
- Best low-density foam roller: AllCare Soft Foam Roller
The best foam rollers
Best medium-density foam roller: Core Balance Foam Roller Massager
For deep massaging without discomfort
Our expert Kylie recommends this 45cm medium-density foam roller from Core Balance for deep muscle massaging.
Both of our experts suggest choosing closed-cell construction foam rollers such as this one, as they are the most durable. The smooth texture of this roller is designed to create a standard pressure across your muscles, which is suitable for all kinds of stretches and exercises.
Best high-density foam roller: Maximo Fitness Foam Roller
Firm roller for intense massaging
Recommended by our expert Kylie, this high-density foam roller from Maximo Fitness is designed to release tight fascia around the muscle, ideal for anyone looking for an intense release.
Available to buy in a choice of six colours and two lengths, this roller has a textured grid pattern, which our expert Alexa says mimics human hands – great for advanced massaging techniques.
Best for durability: PhysioRoom EVA Foam Roller
Built to last
This closed-cell EVA foam roller comes recommended by our expert Alexa, who says it is firmer than most rollers and has great durability.
Available to buy in two lengths – 30cm and 45cm – high-density foam rollers such as this won’t flex or bend too much, which Alexa says will enable the roller to effectively work into muscle tissue and release tension.
Best versatile foam roller: 66fit EVA Foam Roller 10cm x 90cm
Great for targeting a range of muscles
This foam roller from 66fit is 90cm long, which our expert Alexa says offers great versatility for stretching and massaging muscles in a range of body positions.
This is a medium-density roller, so sits somewhere in between the gentle massage provided by a low-density roller and the more intense release of a high-density roller. It is also made from EVA open cell foam, so it should be durable and have a long lifespan.
Best for portability: Meglio Foam Roller 45cm
Lightweight and compact
This foam roller from Meglio is made from high density, closed-cell foam, making it an ideal choice for deep muscle massaging.
Available in a choice of three colours – green, purple and red/ black – it is also ultra-lightweight and compact, which is great for packing in your gym bag.
Best of both worlds: FitBeast Fitness Foam Rollers For Deep Tissue Massage
This two-in-one foam roller set from FitBeast comes with a soft inner roller and a ribbed outer roller with a choice of two surfaces, which is great if you want to switch between different intensities.
Our expert Alexa says you should avoid blindly copying what you see others do with foam rollers and instead figure out the style of foam roller and type of exercises most suited to your needs. With a choice of three textures, this foam roller gives you the scope to experiment with what feels good for you.
Best long foam roller: PhysioWorld Foam Roller
Eases muscle tension
Made from closed-cell foam and with a smooth texture, this 90cm-long foam roller from PhysioWorld ticks many of our experts’ boxes.
Available in a choice of three colours – blue, pink and graphite – this foam roller is designed to target sore muscles and painful trigger points, help relieve muscular pain and reduce tension.
Best high-tech foam roller: Pulseroll Vibrating Foam Roller for Deep Tissue Muscle Massage
This vibrating foam roller from Pulseroll combines pressure and vibration to gently warm your muscles, increasing blood flow and flushing away lactic acid.
Weighing 1kg, it features four-speed settings designed for warming up, cooling down, sports training and rehabilitation, and comes with a built-in rechargeable battery and remote control.
Best textured foam roller: Starwood Sports Foam Roller
Great for deep tissue massaging
Foam rollers with a raised trigger point design such as this one from Starwood Stores are great for advanced techniques and deep tissue massaging.
While many textured foam rollers feature a hollow design, this one features a closed-cell EVA foam on the inside, which means it can withstand repeated use.
Best low-density foam roller: AllCare Soft Foam Roller
Gentle on muscles
This soft foam roller from AllCare is made from low-density foam, which our expert Kylie advises for people who have sensitive muscles or who don’t want such an intense massage.
This foam roller is designed to provide a gentle, comfortable massage and is ideal for soft tissue work, stretching, self-massage, stability exercises, core strengthening and injury prevention.
Our physiotherapy experts
Our physiotherapy experts, Kylie Jacobs and Alexa Javonovic, work for two of the UK’s leading sports physiotherapists.
Kylie Jacobs is a senior musculoskeletal physiotherapist from Cape Town, South Africa, with a postgraduate degree in orthopaedic manual therapy. In 2021, she joined Ultra Sports Clinic, a sports injury and rehabilitation clinic with sites across London, whose experts work with some of the world’s most high-profile athletes, sports teams, and stars. You can follow Ultra Sports Clinic on Facebook and Instagram.
Alexa Jovanovic is a physiotherapist from Italy specialising in post-operative rehab, musculoskeletal conditions and pilates, with a postgraduate degree in sports physiotherapy. In 2019, Alexa moved to London and now works for Six Physio Kensington, a leading physiotherapist and sports injury specialist clinic offering expert treatment in a range of services, including lower back pain treatment and sports massaging to roughly 1,000 patients every month. You can follow Six Physio on Instagram and YouTube.
We put three questions to both of them to understand exactly what you need to know when shopping for foam rollers and got their expert recommendations of some of the best foam rollers to buy and why.
What should you look for when buying a foam roller?
“There needs to be a good density to the foam roller,” says Kylie, “this depends on the depth that you are wanting to achieve: soft foam rollers, for example, have more give and cushioning to them and are more gentle for people who have sensitive muscles.”
For anyone seeking a more intense release, Kylie recommends opting for one a firm foam roller. “Athletes or highly active individuals would benefit from a firm roller as they are better at releasing tight fascia around the muscle.”
Alexa adds that a good foam roller should not flex or bend too much. “It’s meant to be rigid so it can get into the muscle tissue and release tension. The harder the foam roller density, the more intense the feeling.”
The material of the foam roller is also something to look out for, particularly if you want one that will last. “Rollers made from EVA foam are the ones that would provide the longest longevity,” says Kylie. “EPP foam rollers are also inexpensive but have good durability.”
Alexa adds that you should also consider texture. “Smooth textured foam rollers create a standard pressure, which works for all stretches and exercises. The grid pattern foam rollers have bumps or raised rectangles that mimic human hands; these are great for advanced techniques like cross friction and spanning.”
What should you avoid when looking for a foam roller?
Alexa points out that you should avoid copying what others do and work out what style of foam roller works best for you. “Density, size and texture are all subjective,” she says. “For example, more intensity doesn’t equate to better. Buy a foam roller that has a density that feels good for you, not the one that produces the most pain.”
Kylie recommends steering clear of open-cell foam rollers as they are not usually very durable, particularly, she says, as it is possible to find a closed-cell foam roller for an affordable price. “Rollers made from EVA foam are the ones that would provide the longest longevity. EPP foam rollers are also inexpensive but have good durability.”
Which are the best foam rollers?
If you’re looking to buy a medium density foam roller, Kylie recommends this one from Core Balance, that “has a medium-density EPE foam construction, which is firm enough to give your muscles deep massage without feeling too uncomfortable”. If you want a high-density foam roller, she also recommends this portable and lightweight roller from Maximo Fitness Store.
Alexa is a fan of EVA foam rollers. This one from Physio Room Store is “firmer than most traditional rollers and will last longer”.
If you would like to read more expert-recommended fitness round-ups, check out our Fitness page for a full list of recommendations, including the best resistance bands recommended by personal trainers, the best yoga mats recommended by yoga teachers, and the best skipping ropes, recommended by jump rope pros.