If you’ve started using a foam roller after exercise you’ll know how effective they can be, not only for speeding up recovery but also for enhancing mobility. These are some of the best foam rollers for helping you bounce back post-workout…

Using a foam roller is a bit like using stretching exercises – it’s a sure-fire way to make sure your muscles recovery from your workout so you’re ready to go again and maintain a continuous fitness regime. Like stretching, too, the best foam rollers are great at keeping joints supple and helping you enhance overall mobility.

In fact, you don’t even need to have been exercising to use a foam roller – you’ll feel the benefits on your overall mobility when used regularly with or without working up a sweat first.

We tried and tested the best foam rollers on the market to help you find the right one for you.

How we tested the best foam rollers

Though most people predominantly use foam rollers for massaging tight hamstring and calf muscles, they can be used for every body part. So our testers used each roller after exercise for these best foam roller moves. They massaged and manipulated the tissue and muscles in their feet, shins, adductors and quads, as well as their upper and lower back, pecs and lats. They also used these moves in conjunction with complimentary stretching exercises, such as the best hip stretches and best shoulder stretches.

These are the best foam rollers

You’d be forgiven for thinking all foam rollers are effectively the same. But a new generation of recovery tools are upping the ante, because they add massage gun-like vibration benefits to deep tissue massage. One such roller is the Pulseroll Vyb Pro, with remote-controllable vibration settings up to 3,500rpm and a six-hour battery life. But it gets the basics right, too, with a firm textured surface to help work out knots.

Other foam roller recommendations

Best for working tight muscles:We found the Gymshark Foam Roller (buy now) had the most pronounced ridges and nodules of any roller on test, as well as just the right level of foam density to massage tender muscles without having you wincing in pain.
Best for back massages:The Amazon Basics Foam Roller (buy now) is available in a few lengths, the largest being 90cm – making it one of the widest rollers around. So while it may not have the most textured of surfaces, it’s great for rolling out knots in backs and shoulders.
Best budget roller:It’s difficult to justify shelling out north of $50 / £50 for what is essentially a cylinder of foam. So it’s refreshing to find a budget option like the Umi Foam Roller (buy now) that gets the job done and doesn’t leave you out of pocket.

Our pick of the best foam rollers

Product shot of Pulseroll foam roller

1. Pulseroll Vyb Pro Vibrating Foam Roller

Men’s Fitness verdict

The Pulseroll Vyb Pro Foam Roller is an all-singing, all-dancing vibrating foam roller that pulverises the competition. It may seem pricey but you’re effectively getting a mini massage gun too.
  • Five effective vibration modes
  • Easy-to-use remote control
  • Robust build quality
  • Highest speed may be too much for some
  • No way to check charge level
Features:5 vibration speeds, remote control, USB chargeable
Length:15in / 38cm
Colours:Black, red
Warranty:2 years

It might be the most expensive foam roller by far, but the Pulseroll Vyb Pro also pulverises the competition when it comes to deep tissue massage. Featuring four speed settings between 1,200rpm and 3,500rpm, there’s also a pulse mode that moves between 1,500rpm and 3,500rpm. A finger-mounted remote control makes changing speeds a breeze and a single USB charge will give you six hours of use.

Product shot of Gymshark foam roller

2. Gymshark Foam Roller

Men’s Fitness verdict

It may look bland, but Gymshark gets the basics right with a roller that really hits the spot. Those three different textures give you plenty of massaging variability too.
  • Three different textures
  • Plush foam
  • Affordable
  • Only one colour
  • A little too firm to use on tight, tender calves
Material:70% EVA, 30% PVC
Length:13in / 33cm

UK fitness firm Gymshark has a foam roller in its arsenal of accessories and, despite looking like most other budget rollers on the market, does an exceptional massaging job. Three patterns of ribs and nodules get into knotted areas well, and the plush foam doesn’t feel too firm against tender calves. Wrap-around foam edges mean you won’t accidentally hit hard plastic when working on the ends of the roller either.

3. Umi Foam Roller

Men’s Fitness verdict

The Umi Foam Roller shows that even low-priced rolling options with varying texture can help you massage tired or knotted muscles. That hard foam can be unforgiving at first though.
  • Three different textures
  • Lightweight yet sturdy
  • Affordable
  • Hard foam takes some getting used to
  • Too short for full back or double-leg rolls
Fam thickness:0.8in / 20mm
Length:13in / 33cm
Colour:Black, green, pink, purple

Another inexpensive option, the Umi roller has deep, accentuated nodules for really working out knotted muscles. There are longer ‘fingers’ and larger blocks too, mimicking the palm of a hand, giving you plenty of options, whatever area you’re working on. A good choice for keeping in your kit bag and cheap enough to have another in your home fitness studio too.

4. Technogym Foam Roller

Men’s Fitness verdict

Technogym takes a different design approach with its slimline roller but we’re not sure it justifies the high price. Still, three textures and varying firmness make it a useful recovery tool.
  • Three different textures
  • Lightweight yet sturdy
  • Varying firmness
  • One of the more expensive options
  • Ridges not pronounced enough for deep massage
Foam thickness:0.3in / 8mm
Length:13in / 33cm

Technogym’s foam roller employs an unusual diagonal pattern of grooves and bumps with three distinct areas for effective tissue massage. It’s a useful portable tool as it’s compact enough to tuck into a gym bag. Though the foam is fairly shallow, the Technogym roller has a trick up its sleeve – the centre is firmer than the outside, allowing you to introduce a good deal of variety to your post-gym recovery work.

5. Amazon Basics Foam Roller

Men’s Fitness verdict

This smooth roller comes in three useful sizes, with even the smallest large enough for full back rolls. The lack of texture means it’s not the best for deep tissue massage though.
  • Robust and hard-wearing
  • Available in three sizes
  • Even the shortest size is longer than most
  • Overpriced (in the UK)
  • A little too firm for many beginners
Length:18in / 45cm; 24in / 60cm; 36in / 90cm
Colour:Black, speckled grey

Though any texture on the Amazon Basics roller is conspicuous by its absence, this budget roller’s USP is its length. Available in three sizes, even the shortest length is longer that your average roller, and the largest is positively huge. Not the greatest for portability then, but it offers great coverage for performing full-length back rolls. If that’s one of your weak spots, this one is well worth a look.

Benefits of using foam rollers

Foam rolling is based on the principle of myofascial release: the freeing up of your fascia (the thin connective tissue that holds everything in place) to reduce stiffness and improve mobility. Rollers do that primarily with knobs and nodules of various sizes that can manipulate your deep tissue.

What to look for when buying a foam roller

Like any fitness tool, the best foam rollers come in a variety of forms – not only do they vary in length from around 13in / 33cm to 36in / 90cm, they also come in a variety of thicknesses, materials and patterns. This can dictate how effective they are at working out tight knots or helping to flush away lactic acid.

Some, like the Pulseroll Vyb Pro and Theragun Wave Roller, are USB chargeable so they can vibrate as you roll. That can help them act almost like the best massage guns as well as a foam roller, making massaging even more effective.

Related content:

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  2. Why is shoulder mobility important?
  3. Best back stretches