How to Choose a Foam Roller

Posted by – May 8, 2012

Deep-tissue massage is actually the only way to remove knots from your muscles.  Stretching without deep-tissue massage immediately beforehand only makes knots tighter.  If you tie a knot in a rubber band and pull both ends, the knots get tighter — same idea with your muscles.

When you regularly massage a knot or tender area of your muscle tissue with your foam roller, the knot will slowly release, and you’ll find yourself with longer, smoother, stronger, more injury-resistant muscles.

Choose a foam roller that is dense enough to reach new trigger points (tender knots in your muscle).  When your foam roller isn’t reaching any new knots in your muscles, it’s time to upgrade to a denser foam roller.

This is a quick guide to help you get started.  View our full selection here.

 

Foam Roller Intensity Ratings At-a-Glance

 

Foam Roller Sizes & Densities

 

6″x36″ Blue, Medium-Density — The 6″x36″ foam roller allows the user to lie on it vertically – something that can’t be done as safely on a compact foam roller.  Large foam rollers are also nice, because you’ll avoid feeling as crowded as you would on a compact foam roller.

This Medium-density foam roller is great for those who prefer a less-intense deep-tissue massage, and for those who are new to foam roller deep-tissue massage.  The drawback with this foam roller is that it will wear-out faster than all other foam rollers.  Beginners who think they can tolerate a little more of that “good pain” may want the original density RumbleRoller, which will last much longer and is better at removing trigger points.

So, if you have very tender muscle tissue, I would start with this one.  If you can handle a more intense massage, I suggest stepping-up to a denser foam roller because it will maintain its shape longer, reach more trigger points, and save you money in the long run.

 

6″x36″ Black, High-Density — This High-density foam roller is for those who want a more-intense deep-tissue massage than medium-density foam rollers provide.

High-density foam rollers will maintain their shape longer than medium-density foam rollers, reaching more trigger points, and save you more money in the long-run.

 

6″x31″ Regular Density RumbleRoller – This RumbleRoller provides ample room for massaging two legs at once, and it is long enough to support your entire spine when lying on it vertically.

This RumbleRoller provides a somewhat intense massage, but this can be eased by foam rolling against a wall, or by resting less of your weight on top of the RumbleRoller.  The knobs of RumbleRollers provide the most thorough massage available.

RumbleRollers are designed to permanently maintain their shape and provide the highest quality massage, making them the best value in the long-run.

 

6″x31″ Firm “36% Firmer” RumbleRoller – This RumbleRoller provides ample room for massaging two legs at once, and it is long enough to support your entire spine when lying on it vertically.

This Firm RumbleRoller is 36% firmer than the regular RumbleRoller.  It is only recommended for advanced users, and those with very dense muscle tissue.

Like all RumbleRollers, this one is designed to permanently maintain its shape.  It provide the highest quality massage, making it a great long-term investment.

5″x12″ Compact Regular Density RumbleRoller – Compact RumbleRollers provide the same quality deep-tissue massage as their larger counterparts, but they are incredible portable.  This 5″x12″ RumbleRoller can fit in a small backpack or purse, making it ideal for travel and for transporting to the gym.

Due to its small size, a Compact RumbleRoller is also great for those who are on a limited budget.

 

 

5″x12″Compact “36% Firmer” RumbleRoller – Like the Compact Regular Density RumbleRoller above, this Compact Firm RumbleRoller is incredible portable.  It is also cheaper than 31″ RumbleRollers, making it ideal for those on a budget.

This is a cost-effective, very intense foam roller, and I like having in on hand for hard-to-reach knots.

 

 

If you are new to foam roller massage and you have very tender muscle tissue:

Get the Blue, 6″x36″ Standard-Density Foam Roller

If you are new to foam roller massage but you have somewhat-dense muscle tissue:

Get the Black, 6″x36″ High-Density Foam Roller or the 6″x31″ Regular Density RumbleRoller (this will last much longer and provide a better massage, and overall it is my favorite foam roller)

If you have very-dense muscle tissue, or if you have hard-to-reach trigger points:

Get the 6″x31″ “36% Firmer” RumbleRoller

If you plan to travel with your Foam Roller frequently, or if you want a great massage on a limited budget:

Get the 5″x12″ Compact Regular Density RumbleRoller

or the 5″x12″ Compact ”36% Firmer” Firm RumbleRoller

And we are now introducing the Beastie Series

The Beastie Series products are based around massage balls, and they’re designed to help you reach trigger points everywhere the RumbleRoller can’t – brought to you by the makers of the RumbleRoller.

When to Upgrade to a Denser Foam Roller

As a rule of thumb, the denser yourmuscle tissue, the denser the foam roller you’ll want.  After regular foam roller massage, you’ll work-out trigger points (or knots in your muscles) and foam rolling will no longer feel as intense as it once did.  Upgrading to a denser foam roller is a sure way to bring some intensity back to your deep-tissue massage sessions.

Ideally, in my opinion, it is best to own multiple foam rollers or RumbleRollers.  I often find my Regular Density RumbleRoller is enough, but for some of my denser muscles, it is nice to have a Firm RumbleRoller on hand, especially when I am trying to find hard-to-reach knots in my glutes.

And now, the Beastie Series products are helping SMR enthusiasts reach knots of brand new depths!

 

Do foam rollers wear out?

After a few months of regular use, traditional foam rollers will become slightly mushier and less-effective.  You will be pleasantly surprised how refreshingly intense it can be to replace your foam roller.

On the other hand, RumbleRollers are designed to permanently maintain their shape, making them the best value in the long-run, even though they cost a little more up-front.

 

How to use a Foam Roller

This free resource explains foam roller basics and includes two video demos.

This DVD/BluRay combo, “SMR Tips” with Jeff Alexander includes 212 minutes of in-depth RumbleRoller and Beastie Series how-tos.

 

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