One of the best recovery tools you can use to help treat sore muscles is a foam roller. While recovery has gone high-tech in recent years, this simple piece of equipment helps to roll out fascia—the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles—can stiffen, and over time, painful knots can form.
“When used before, after, and between workouts, they can help enhance mobility, boost blood flow, and ease muscle tension, both priming your muscles for action and helping them recover from it,” Trevor Thieme, CSCS, previously told Men’s Health.
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, which breaks up those adhesions, and in turn improving your range of motion and reducing muscle soreness. Think of it as a DIY deep-tissue massage. (Massage guns can also help.)
“It takes a little bit more effort and people just want to jump right into their workout,” says Noam Tamir, CSCS, owner of TS Fitness in New York City. “And after they’re done, they feel like they’re finished, and they just want to go.” (Plus, your foam roller can double as a tool to help strengthen your core.)
Investing in a recovery tool like a foam roller is a smart place to start if you’re dealing with training aches and pains. (Or if you prefer a muscle roller stick, here are 10 of the best massage muscle roller sticks.)
Ready to roll? Here are 18 standouts for your home gym.
Therabody Wave Roller
Therabody, the brand behind Theragun percussive guns, released this new smart roller recently. You can switch between the five vibration settings with the Bluetooth connected app—but don’t worry about the buzzing getting too loud once the roller hits the floor. The Wave Roller is made out of high density foam to dampen the sound.
Aimerday Premium 2.0 Pro 4-Speed
The luxe roller from Aimerday gives you the ability to roll out in four different vibration settings, so you can target every muscle group with varying levels of intensity. As an added bonus, you can charge your phone after your roll using the USB port.
NextRoller 3-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller
NextRoller adds a ridged texture to go along with its three speed settings, brining an extra dimension to your roll. The additional element takes your stretch and turns it into a massage.
Brazyn Morph Bravo Foam Roller
You might recognize this handy roller from the hit TV show Shark Tank. The tool is much more than just a gimmick, though—the highly portable convertible design allows you to break down the full-size roller into a 2-inch thick, 1.5 pound slab you can slide into just about any bag.
Hyperice Vyper 2.0
A favorite of pro athletes, this foam roller employs three vibration speeds to further relax and rejuvenate your sore muscles. At 14 inches in length, it’s an ideal size for targeting harder-to-reach areas like in between your shoulder blades.
This water bottle-foam roller combo is perfect for guys who need recovery on the go. Use it to warm up before your pickup basketball game, while you’re on vacation, or as an alternative to the overused cylinders at your gym.
The Best Ways to Foam Roll Your Upper Body:
MELT Soft Body Roller
If you’re looking to roll out but want a bit less pressure, this foam roller is for you. It’s safe to use on your legs, arms, back, neck, and butt. And even though it’s soft, you don’t have to worry about the foam chipping or wearing out.
TriggerPoint GRID VIBE
This roller’s foam exterior features a grid pattern that mimics a massage therapist’s hands and allows you to customize your self-massage experience. Power the roller on for soothing vibrations.
RumbleRoller Deep Tissue Massage Roller
If you’re really looking to dig into certain parts of your body, the knobs on this foam roller can help. While firm, they’re also flexible and knead into the muscles of your choosing. Available in two sizes.
321 Strong Foam Roller with End Caps
Want to roll out and have somewhere to stow your keys while you’re at the gym? This roller has removable end caps that give you a secure space to keep your stuff.
Acumobility Back Roller
This 11-inch tall wheel roller is designed to work your back, and the company claims its shape will help to improve spinal extension. You can use it on other parts of the body, too.
This isn’t technically a foam roller—but you can use this tool for self-myofascial release, which is what you’re going for with the tools anyway. You won’t be able to massage your back, but the stick’s handles make it super easy to roll out your legs.
Triggerpoint GRID Ball
This massage roller ball is 5 inches in diameter and targets tightness in hard to reach places. It’s ideal for shoulders, traps, and hips to relieve muscle pain and improve mobility.
ivy’s The Original Body Foam Roller Set
This 4-piece set contains two rollers, one larger foam and one smaller plastic roller to target tight areas of the body with different textures. And it also comes the two round rollers, one peanut ball and one round ball to work out knots.
Enzo Muscle Roller Stick
This foam massage roller stick is the perfect tool to get your blood circulating before or after a workout. It’s made with a strong stainless-steel core and 4 independent rotating foam pads with ergonomic grip handles to help you reach sore places but also offer some comfort and cushion.
Doeplex Muscle Roller Massage Stick
This Doeplex massage stick has 360-degree rotation to make rolling smooth, as well as anti-skid grips to help you hit targeted areas without fear of slipping. It also has freely spinning individual rollers for easy movement along your body.
Strong Fit n Tone Trigger Point Deep Tissue Massager
This crazy looking foam roller was designed for deep tissue stimulation and myofascial release in your arms and legs specifically. It has four trigger point massage balls that are rigged and knobbed to help roll out soreness.
Fitness Kings The Ultimate Foam Roller Set
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive foam rolling set, this one from Fitness Kings is it. It comes with five pieces: a regular foam roller, a massage roller stick, a foam massage ball, a spiked massage ball, and a stretch strap to really help your body recover.
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