Roll, Release, and Strengthen — The Benefits of Foam Rollers

Foam rollers are one of the best fitness and wellness tools to come along in a long time. I first started using rollers 20 years ago as a way to massage my back and legs, which helped me to recover faster from hard training. Later, as a Pilates instructor, I learned that the foam roller can also be used for centering work, training balance, and working the core. Nowadays, athletes and professional sports teams swear by the rollers as part of their training. And, they can be found in just about every gym and sporting goods store.
The popularity of foam rollers has led to there being many different types of rollers available, which has made it difficult to know which kind is best. So, before we get into the exercises you can do with a foam roller, here is some information about them, a list of some of the different kinds out there, an image and description for each, and  my personal recommendations.

First, they come in different sizes; compact size is 6” in diameter and 12” long. This size is great for travel and for massage, but you can’t do any of the centering, core, and balance exercises on it because it is too short to lie down on.

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The other size is large, 6” x 36” long. This is the size you will find in most health clubs, and it is big enough to lie down on and do all the exercises and massage work. Because most rollers are made with foam, they are pretty light and can be picked up and moved around easily.

They also come in many different colors, but the color doesn’t indicate the quality of the foam used. The quality of the foam is very important, as you will see in the descriptions below of some of the most commonly found rollers.


Untitled1)   White Foam Roller: 6” x 36”($15 – $30) – This is the least expensive kind of roller and is made with “open-cell” foam, though some may claim different. They are basically like hard Styrofoam, which means bits of them chip off easily, and they can be bent and get squished. They also get dirty easily and absorb sweat.

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Black Foam Roller
2)   Black High Density Foam Roller: 6” x 36” ($15 – $30) – This is a little harder than the white one, which is too hard for most people. It is basically the same material (hard Styrofoam), only black, so you can’t see the dirt as well. Read More »

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  • Robert Karolkiewicz March 7, 2016 at 4:03 am

    Very helpful and professional article.