Foam Roller Comparison/Review
First thing to consider when ordering a foam roller is what length you want to order. The price will vary particularly on the size and the materials used; typically the longer the roller and the higher the quality of materials used means a more expensive foam roller. Most commonly companies offer either a full length or half-length foam roller and some companies also offer mini foam rollers that run about 5 to 6 in. in length.
So how do you determine which length foam roller is best for you?
The half-length or mini foam roller is great for those who tend to travel a lot and like to transport their foam rollers with them. It’s small enough to fit into a suitcase or duffle bag without any major issues and if your foam roller is hollow you can stuff it full of articles of clothing or use the empty space for more packing. The only issue I tend to have with the half-length or mini foam rollers is that sometimes I can’t roll out the length of my back. Those with wider backs will have to re-position more frequently but it’s only a minor gripe and not a major hindrance. Additionally, because the half-length and mini rollers are shorter it can be either tricky or impossible to fit both legs on them. This means your distribution of weight is going entirely on one leg; and if you are a beginner foam roller this will exponentially increase the discomfort of foam rolling. So, unless you are flat Stanley and can fit both legs on a half-length foam roller then beginners may want to consider using primarily a full-length foam roller. That being said, in general I don’t feel like I’m particularly missing out when using a half-length foam roller because I can still hit the same muscles albeit in a slightly adjusted manner. Finally, the only major drawback of the full-length foam roller is its transportability. It’s not ideal to bring to the gym everyday and for the amount of time you would use it in the gym, not practical either.
As a result, when you are purchasing a foam roller and don’t know what length to purchase knowing where you plan to roll and what muscles you plan to roll can be a decisive point for purchase.
Foam rollers tend to come in a variety of firmness ranging for high density to low-density foam rollers; usually, the lower the density the less expensive the foam roller.
A low-density foam roller is made out of EVA foam or polyethylene and is a lot more pleasant to lie on because it distributes more of your weight across the foam roller. This in turn means you won’t be able to target very specific muscles or areas of soreness. However, if you are very new to foam rolling using a low density foam roller will allow you to get accustomed to the world of self myofascial release or (SMR) without being put off by the discomfort initially brought by foam rolling. This low-density foam roller is quite pliable meaning I can push my finger into it and it will sink in. Fortunately this foam roller also has a thick core meaning even if the polyethylene does start to give way after repeated use, which it will, the core will retain its shape. I have seen plenty of these specific foam roller start to warp and get loose after repeated use and as a result the foam exterior become more oval that circular. While having a softer foam roller definitely sounds good to those without much experience foam rolling, if you are looking to use a foam roller long term it’s not really worth getting a low-density foam roller as you will out grow its benefits very rapidly; and also because low-density foam rollers lose their shape at a much quicker rate compared to higher density foam rollers. For this reason I do not recommend purchasing a low-density foam rollers as a long-term investment.
The black high-density foam roller is probably one of the most basic and high quality foam rollers out there. It is made of molded polyethylene meaning that the foam is extra dense and will retain its shape for years to come. Due to its high density it is a good investment for those with a bit more experience foam rolling. Because of its high density you are able to get much deeper into your muscles and really roll out any deep knots throughout your body. Additionally, it is extremely lightweight, does not deform very rapidly and it is very cost efficient if you are on a budget. After using the foam roller over time you do notice that the outer surface will start to wear away and will flake off, which isn’t extremely pleasant but for me isn’t necessarily a deal breaker either. Since, the black high-density foam roller is so standard I can’t really comment on anything redeeming about it other than the fact that it is an overall good foam roller. If you are serious about getting into the world of SMR and foam rolling your really can’t go wrong with this foam roller. Bare bones it is a good foam roller to own especially if you don’t want to invest in the more expensive alternatives.
Finally, the TriggerPoint GRID 2.0 is my utmost favorite foam roller I have owned. The benefits of having a thick core means the foam roller will retain its shape for years to come, whether you consistently use it or are a weekend foam rolling warrior.
This 26 in. GRID 2.0, I always leave at home, this is because I prefer not to lug around 26 in. foam roller to and from gym, for every workout; especially when most gym facilities have semi decent foam roller anyways. As such I find having the 26 in. foam roller for the home setting to be most ideal. Additionally, due to its hollow core it is extremely lightweight and very travel friendly. Unfortunately for all the amenities of this foam roller it is the most expensive. However, for the price you get an unparalleled material quality and it’s for this reason that I took the leap and forked over the change for the 26 in. GRID 2.0. If you are up for the long-term investment of a foam roller this Trigger Point Grid 2.0 will not disappoint. The only drawback I do have to say about the 26 in. foam roller is its lack of travel ability. While I could easily cure this with a 13 in. or 5 in. mini GRID 2.0 I personally prefer having the 26 in.
Whether you are just getting into foam rolling or are a veteran foam rolling aficionado. Owning a foam roller is never a poor investment, the only thing to decide is how much you are willing to spend and which foam roller is best for your level of experience. If you have any more questions or comments feel free to leave them in the comments sections below.