What Size Foam Roller Should I Get?

Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release (SMR), is becoming more and more popular every day, especially among fitness and yoga enthusiasts.

Using a foam roller can help relieve muscle soreness and reduce inflammation. It’s also a crucial tool used by many physical therapy patients to help them with their conditions. Additionally, foam rolling can aid in weight loss efforts.

If you plan on buying a foam roller, you’re probably asking yourself, what size foam roller should I get? This detailed guide attempts to answer that question, so stick around.

How to Choose the Right Foam Roller?

Foam rollers vary in terms of density, size, texture, and shape. Moreover, some foam rollers come with more features than others. Let’s discuss each of these factors in detail to simplify your foam roller selection process.


Density

The density of the foam roller can also be referred to as the firmness. The firmer the foam roller, the more intense the massage will be.

There three density options that you can choose from, namely soft, standard, and firm.

Soft

Soft foam rollers are suitable for beginners. It’s when you need a more comfortable message rather than an intense one that targets deeper tissues.

Being soft means it’s less rigid than the standard and the firm ones. So, it’ll wear out and lose its shape quicker. When your technique and tolerance improve, you can switch to a firmer one.

We recommend the STOTT PILATES as a soft foam roller option. It’s built from high-quality EVA foam. This specific foam roller is durable and withstands rigorous, repeated use.

Note, however, that the STOTT PILATES is on the expensive side. Nonetheless, it’s hard to find a soft foam roller that won’t lose its shape easily, so the pricing is definitely justified. 

STOTT PILATES Soft Foam Roller
STOTT PILATES Foam Roller Soft - (Blue), 36 Inch / 92 cm.

Standard

Standard-density foam rollers are suitable for those who foam roll on a regular basis. They give deep messages while not being too uncomfortable; perfect for those with medium tolerance.

Since they’re firmer than soft-density rollers, standard-density rollers don’t lose their shape very easily and they last for quite some time.

This type is also used in core strengthening exercises. People use it in classes like Pilates or Yoga. If you are looking for a standard density roller, try this one.

Firm

Firm foam rollers are best for athletes and highly active people. They provide very concentrated pressure, which can be uncomfortable for some people, but the extra pressure helps with quick muscle recovery. Firm foam rollers are popular among athletes.

This type comes in different materials. Its material can be a higher density foam or it could be a PVC pipe with light cushioning. As you may have guessed, firm rollers are the longest-lasting of the three types.

If you feel intense pain that is unbearable when using the firm type foam roller, stop immediately and opt for a lighter one. You should only feel discomfort from rolling the muscles, not pain.

We recommend the Amazon Basics Foam Roller for the firm choice. You can read our full review of this foam roller here.

Amazon Basics Foam Rollers
  • High-density foam roller with molded edges
  • Ideal for balance, strengthening, flexibility, and rehab exercises
  • Made in the USA from molded polypropylene to maintain firmness
  • Lightweight, easy to clean and transport
  • Measures approximately 36 x 6 x 6 inches (L x W x H)

Size

Addressing the main question at hand, you need to consider the length and diameter of a foam roller in order to ensure buying the right size.

Standard Full Size

The 36-inch is the standard full-size foam roller. It usually has a 6-inch diameter. This is the most commonly used one, and it’s the best for beginners.

If you need to target a large group of muscles, the 36-inch foam roller is for you. It works the best when it comes to rolling your back, as it can cover your entire back area. Shorter rollers might not be as effective. To add, the standard size is more stable when used for rolling your hamstrings or quads.

  • For our athletes, we recommend the LuxFit Foam Roller. This a full-sized roller with a pretty high-density construction. It’s available in different sizes and colors, and it’s affordable.
LuxFit Foam Roller
LuxFit Foam Roller, Speckled Foam Rollers for Muscles '3 Year Warranty' with Free Online Instructional Video Extra Firm High Density for Physical Therapy, Exercise, Deep Tissue Muscle Massage
  • As mentioned above, another good option for our highly active people is the Amazon Basics High-Density. This one is also available in different sizes and in a variety of colors. Plus, it’s budget-friendly.

Shorter Foam Rollers

In this category, lies the 24, 18, and 12-inch foam rollers. These are mostly used for targeting smaller areas like your arms, calves, or inner thighs. They’re more portable than their full-size counterparts. It’s better to use these rollers if you’re practicing in a small room area.

Some people complain that the 12-inch foam roller is too small. Shorter-sized foam rollers can be especially frustrating for beginners. We recommend short-sized foam rollers for advanced users.

Most of the foam rollers recommended above are available in short lengths as well. We still have more recommendations, though.

  • The OPTP LO ROX Aligned Travel-Size is a superb option that boasts moderate density. It’s pretty durable as it’s made from EVA foam. The best thing about the OPTP LO ROX is that it measures only 12 x 4 inches, which makes it extremely portable and easy to travel with.

Diameter

Typically, a foam roller’s diameter is either 4 inches or 6 inches. The 6-inch diameter foam roller is the most common and most versatile. It allows more controlled rolling.

The 4-inch diameter foam roller is usually used to target certain areas. In addition, it’s better for physical therapy patients and older users. It provides added stability by bringing them closer to the floor.

LuxFit Foam Roller, Amazon Basics High-Density, and OPTP PRO-Roller Standard Density are all 6-inch diameter foam rollers.

Travel-size foam rollers typically have 4-inch diameters like Pro-Tec Athletics Travel Size Foam Roller, OPTP LO ROX Aligned Travel-Size Foam Roller, and EasY FoxY ToY Foam Roller.

EasY FoxY ToY Foam Roller
  • ✅ The Exercise Foam Massage Roller is MEDIUM in it‘s Density (See Picture). A soft touch but firm - medium density. Bones (Vertebra) can sink in so that the muscles are massaged, it is NOT SUPER SOFT! Ideal for your back to adjust displaced spines of your spinal column. Fascial roller works Perfectly right out of the box and does exactly what it is supposed to do.
  • ✅ BACKPAIN Foam Rollers are perfectly suited to get rid of your Backpain. It will help, really! Lower back – upper back and your shoulders and neckpain can be treated as often as you like. Using the roller hurts so good, just use a little pain in the treatment, do not overdo it. To much pain while rolling is not good.
  • ✅ RECOMMENDED The Fitness Foam Roler is highly recommended by phyisical therapist and trainers. Gym's use it in the daily training workout as well. runners, football player, and other athletes swear on it. The Soft Foam Muscle Roll is easy to use for legs, thigh, sural, buttocks, back, shoulders, arms, and neck.
  • ✅ GREAT GIFT The Foma Roller is a Great Birthday Gift for your husband, wife, everybody with chronical back and leg pain. They will LOVE 💖 you for this useful present. PLEASANT MASSAGE Using the Yoga Fome Roller is like a Deep Tissue Massage in the comfort of your own home. Best of all you do not need a masseur. It is great for rolling out your sore muscles and pain at the end of a long stressful day
  • ✅ JUST THE PERFECT SIZE The foam roller has a 3.75inch diameter and 16.5inch lengths. This gives you the advantage that you can bend your back fully. Touch the floor with the shoulders and your buttocks simultaneously – means your muscles in the backbone are totally relaxed and your spines can move into the right natural place where they should be. (See Picture)

Texture and Shape

The texture of a foam roller’s surface is similar to its density in the sense that the more textured the surface, the greater the intensity of the massage.

Let’s discuss the different textures and shapes.

Smooth Surface

Smooth-surface foam rollers provide you with even pressure along the targeted area. This, in turn, allows for a lower intensity massage than the textured surface.

Smooth-surfaced foam rollers are perfect for beginners and low-tolerance users.

Textured Surface

This when you need something extra. There are different types of textured foam rollers. The protrusions that come out of it take different shapes, including knobs, ridges, and bumps.

Each surface is designed to give the closest experience to a real massage. They pretty much mimic fingertips or palms.

Foam rollers with higher and more defined protrusions give deeper, intense massages. They’re intended to get right into the muscle and give you the ultimate massage. Textured foam rollers are highly recommended for advanced users and athletes.

One of our favorite textured foam rollers is the 321 STRONG. We love this foam roller because it’s short and does an excellent job of targeting specific areas. Also, it’s of medium density and the protrusions aren’t too strong. It can be used by beginners and intermediates.

Sale
321 STRONG Foam Roller
321 STRONG Foam Roller - Medium Density Deep Tissue Massager for Muscle Massage and Myofascial Trigger Point Release

Another great option is the TriggerPoint GRID. It’s a 13 x 5.5-inch foam roller, so it’s perfect for triggering a specific group of muscles. 

For longer options, we recommend the 26 x 5.5-inch TriggerPoint Grid. It’s ideal for massaging your back and providing high-intensity massage for your hamstrings and quads. It’s a bit costly, but it’s worth the investment.

A similar but more affordable option is the 30-inch 321 STRONG. It’s of high density for deep massages, but it’s not as durable as TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller.

And our favorite option for massaging your calves and shins is the Rollga. It’s one of the best options for runners. It targets the muscles while avoiding the tendons and bones. It’s available in different densities and colors.

Rollga Foam Roller
Rollga Foam Roller - Standard: Self Massage & Trigger Point Release Muscle Roller, Medium Density Foam Version

Shape

Some foam rollers don’t have the traditional cylindrical shape. Foam rollers have developed into more complex shapes to target specific areas. 

Foam rollers that take the shape of a ball are generally the smallest. These are best used on curved areas of your body. They work especially well for foot massages.

We recommend Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls as a soft-density option.

TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball is a great choice for moderate density. Both of them are affordable.

For higher density and deeper massages, we’ve selected two products: Muscle Max Massage Ball and RumbleRoller BOA Original Beastie Massage Ball. They’re both great; simply choose the shape that you think would work best for you.

Some foam rollers take the shape of a stick. They’re used primarily for legs, but you can also use them for other areas. They give a more precise massage.

Idson Muscle Roller Stick is our favorite massage stick. It’s durable and easy to use. Plus, it’s affordable and easier to travel with than a traditional foam roller.


Tech Features

While shopping for foam rollers, you might find vibrating ones. Others may feature heating or cooling options. These are more for patients with specific conditions like plantar fasciitis.

We recommend Aduro Sport Foot Massage Roller if you seek a heating/cooling option. For a vibrating roller, Vulken Extra Long 17” Vibrating Foam Roller is a good choice. It has 4 speed settings to control the intensity that you want. 

Sale
Vulken Extra Long 17” Vibrating Foam Roller
Vulken Extra Long 17” Vibrating Foam Roller 4 Speeds 3800RPM High Intensity Quick Charge Electric Foam Roller Tissue Massager for Muscle Recovery

Final Thoughts on What Size Foam Roller Should I Get

Choosing the perfect foam roller for your needs can be overwhelming, but with the aid of the information shared in this article, it shouldn’t be so hard.

Be sure to pick the right density, size, texture, and shape for your particular level of experience. If you’re new to foam rolling, you want to avoid firmer, shorter, and more textured options.

Per contra, if you’ve been foam rolling for quite some time, try experimenting with high-density options.

Good luck!

Foam Rolling Buyers Guides

Check out these very helpful buyers guides directed at helping you to decide which foam roller is best for you and your unique needs.

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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