How to Choose a Foam Roller

June 04, 2019 3 min read

Foam Rollers

Picking The Right Size Foam Roller

What size foam roller is ideal for me? This is a common question for those who workout, particularly beginners. Whether you shop online or at a local sports shop, picking the right one can certainly be daunting.

However, you don't have to fret as in this read, we will break down this common question and provide some quick advice on purchasing one for yourself.

But before we delve into the details, here are a few questions to ask:

What Muscle Groups Are You Targeting?

If you are looking to work on the glutes, hip-flexors or legs, then a large, probably 36-inches long foam roller is ideal. You will ideally want one with a bigger diameter of about 5 to 6 inches.

Most rollers come at this width and so, you do not have to fret if the one you are considering does not mention this.

On the other hand, if you're planning to work on muscles in the neck or shoulders, you will want to go for a smaller one, both in terms of length and diameter as they are easier to deal with.

Do You Intend To Travel With It?

Foam Roller Sizes

If you intend to take your foam rolleron vacation, then it goes without saying that you'll need a smaller one, particularly one that will fit in your suitcase.

It's also worth considering a smaller diameter as you will then be able to travel with more items. 

How Dense of a Foam Roller Do You Want? 

Some prefer the firmer foam rollers, while others despise them. As such, you may want to hit the gym and try a few of them to know what works for you. You can even try one with vibration.

The Shape and Size of Your Foam Roller Matters

1. The Length

When individuals ask which size foam roller is the best, they often refer to the length. There are numerous foam roller designs, but they usually come in 3 standard sizes:

36-inches: This is perhaps the longest foam roller out there, and it's excellent for rolling the back. A shorter foam roller may not be ideal for such an exercise.

24-inches: This is the perfect length for working the smaller parts of the body like arms and legs.

12-inches: When it comes to exercising in small spaces, the 12'' variant proves to be the best. It is ideally excellent if you intend to travel with it, like to your yoga class or a vacation.

This shorter variant is also recommended if you have plantar fasciitis and are using the roller on your feet.

When it comes to picking the first foam roller, it's advisable to go for the 36-inch long one. These are long enough to cover the whole back and are most stable for doing things like hamstring workouts compared to shorter ones.

2. The Diameter

Most foam rollers come with a diameter of 5 to 6 inches. Most individuals find this size ideal for getting their body on the roller and rolling over it. If you are considering a vibrating fitness roller, it will usually have a wider diameter. You can learn more about the benefits of vibration in our guide.

Generally, there are two reasons why you would pick a roller with a small diameter like 3 or 4 inches:

-Those who wish to do a more targeted massage for a certain area of the body

-Older users or physical therapy patients who have to be closer to the floor for additional stability when rolling.

If this is your first time using a foam roller, then it is advisable to pick a more versatile 5 to 6 inches type.

3. The Firmness

This aspect might not really fall into the size category, but it's nonetheless an essential consideration if you are going to pick the right firm roller. The general rule is that the harder or firmer the roller, the more intense the massage.

With this in mind, it is usually advisable to get a softer foam roller if you are a beginner and get a firmer one as you advance.

Even though there are exceptions, the color can give a hint as to the hardness of the roller. White ones are often designed from open-cell polyethylene foam and thus, the softest.

The green or blue type is made from EVA foam with closed cells and have a medium firmness. The black ones are often made from closed-cells polyethylene and are the firmest.

With these three important aspects to keep in mind, you should be able to pick the right size foam roller for your needs.