How to use a foam roller

The Skinny Confidential talks diet, fitness, and health.

Back in the day I was a serious foam-rolling-teenager.

I discovered this random blue foam roller at the local LA Fitness ( all of us high school girls would go after 5th period to flirt with older guys— we’d roll our cheerleader-esque, black tiny shorts up way too high & ‘pretend’ to sweat on the Elliptical while drinking lemon flavored Propel ). The foam roller would sadly sit in the corner, un-touched. One day I asked a trainer about it.

He answer was simple: it releases pain.

Wait, what?

Seriously? OMG, so needed. I always have had the worst neck pain.

Long story short Mr. Foam Roller & I became fast friends.

Fast forward to about a month ago: I had forgotten about my old high school crush/foam roller…that is until Kayla Itsines mentioned it on Instagram.

Let’s just say we picked up right where we left off: I now use my foam roller all day, every day.

Well, not really all day but you get my drift.

Choosing a foam roller

foam roller

There are many different types of foam roller

There are many different styles of foam roller out there.

Most foam rollers are around 15cm in diameter – but length varies. If you plan to be using your foam roller mostly at home, you might as well go all out and buy a 90cm one which will allow you the opportunity to use it on the full length of your back should you wish to.

If you think you might be travelling with your foam roller, then look for a smaller one – perhaps 30cm – so you can pop it in a travel suitcase.

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Foam rollers vary in density. Choose a low density option if you’re new to the idea and think your muscles are so tight that a higher density version will prove too painful, limiting your use. However, most people will get on fine with a medium one.

There are some knobbly foam rollers out there, these have bumps along the surface that are designed to provide additional trigger point massage. These often have a hard plastic core, with foam over the top. They are generally a bit more durable, but also more expensive and most people get on fine with a basic foam version.


The Effects of Self-Myofascial Release Using a Foam Roller or Roller Massager on Joint Range of Motion, Muscle Recovery and Performance: A Systematic Review by Scott W. Cheatham, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CSCS,corresponding author1 Morey J. Kolber, PT, PhD, OCS, CSCS*D,2 Matt Cain, MS, CSCS,1 and Matt Lee, PT, MPT, CSCS3

Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures by Gregory E. P. Pearcey, MSc,* David J. Bradbury-Squires, MSc,* Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc,* Eric J. Drinkwater, PhD,*†David G. Behm, PhD,* and Duane C. Button, PhD*

The 5 Best Foam Rollers to Buy Now

Best Budget-Friendly Foam Roller: Champion Sports Lacrosse Ball

Okay, so it isn’t strictly speaking a foam roller, but it’s perfect for those that aren’t looking for a huge commitment. A lacrosse ball is the easiest way to ease into rolling. Roll your feet back and forth at any time during the day to get into your arch and loosen tension. You might be surprised how much this can help with muscle soreness in the rest of your body. Lacrosse balls can also help hit trigger points on your body — think those really tender areas around your shoulders, back or pecs after chest day.

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Best Basic Foam Roller: ProSource High Density Foam Roller

You can’t go wrong with this basic foam roller. The smooth high-density foam of the ProSource is commonplace at the gym for its ease of use. With no bumps or patterns, the amount of pressure is consistent with each roll. This particular version comes in three sizes. While you can use any size for your entire muscular system, the longer one is helpful for any spinal mobility or rehab.

Best Travel-Friendly Foam Roller: Brazyn Morph Collapsible Foam Roller

The already extremely popular collapsible foam roller made its debut on Shark Tank, and is best for that find themselves frequently taking their workout on the road. It weighs in at 1.6-pounds, yet supports up to 350 pounds and collapses down small enough that it won’t take up a ton of space in your suitcase.

Best Vibrating Foam Roller: TriggerPoint GRID Vibe

TriggerPoint’s Grid Vibe kicks it up a notch with the addition of a powerful vibrating motor. While you do have to charge this roller, you don’t have to worry about it running out of juice if you haven’t used it in a while. In testing, the battery lasted for multiple sessions. The vibrating motor effectively adds a deep tissue massage to your standard foam roller.

Best Foam Roller for Athletes: TheraGun G2Pro

The G2Pro is a special tool for vibration therapy, frequently used by CrossFit champions, that comes with an adjustable arm and 4 interchangeable heads so you can get at practically any muscle. The 45-minute battery life and extra battery pack mean that you can go for a full session before needing to recharge. It’s designed to help with muscle fatigue, tightness and to allow you to get at deeper knots. The price tag is steep for a recovery tool, but after using it, it’s hard to go back to a regular old foam roller.

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