Best Foam Roller For Myofascial Release (2020 Buyers Guide)

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In this review, I will take a look at the best foam roller for myofascial release. Choosing the right foam roller can be a daunting task. There are a lot of options available, and in this post, I will help you narrow it all down.

Foam rollers have been around for years and have become a necessity for people who work out a lot.  You can find foam rollers not only at your local gym but also at large retail stores and sporting goods stores too.

If you are a fitness enthusiast or recovering from an injury, we will take a look at the top foam rollers for myofascial release. But, before we get too far though, let’s get some technical stuff out of the way.

What is myofascial release?

Fascia is the term used to describe the body’s connective tissue.  What the heck does that mean?  In short, the myofascial tissues are the tough membranes that wrap, connect, and support your muscles [1]. Fascia is the connective tissue that supports and protects your muscles and organs.

Myofascial release (MFR) involves applying pressure, like with a foam roller, to tight muscles and fascia for them to “release” and get rid of pain [2]. MFR is different from massage in that the object is to press into muscles (to break up adhesions) rather than kneading them.

Basically, the goal of myofascial release is to stretch and loosen the fascia so it and the connected structures can move freely.  This helps with increased circulation, improved mobility, and decreased muscle pain, helping you perform your best.

When you apply pressure to specific points on your body, this aids in the recovery of your muscles helping them get back to functioning normally.  When your muscles are functioning properly, this means they are healthy, elastic, and ready to perform when you are.

Taking this a step further, you may have heard the self-myofascial release.  This is a fancy term for giving yourself a massage.

Types of foam rollers

There are many different types of foam rollers available, including:

  • Smooth foam rollers, which are excellent for beginners since they have a flat surface. These rollers are not as aggressive as some other models and make them right for people who might be just starting out or are sensitive to rolling.
  • Textured foam rollers have knobs on the surface and are more aggressive than smooth rollers. These rollers are suitable for people who have deep, tight knots, or have maybe outgrown a soft, less aggressive roller.
  • Vibrating foam rollers add an extra element with, you guessed it, vibration. Vibration helps to intensify your foam rolling experience.

Benefits of using a foam roller

There are several benefits of using a foam roller, and you can see my post here for more details. In short, foam rolling can help in the following areas.

  • Reduce muscle pain and soreness
  • Increase blood flow
  • Increase range of motion
  • Reduce the risk of injury
  • Decrease recovery time

Many of these factors go hand in hand.  Increasing the blood flow to your muscles can help them to heal faster, which in turn leads to decreased recovery time.  Improving your recovery time means you can work those muscle groups more often, and that will help you achieve the results you are after.

Foam rollers are great because you can use one at home.  Even if you go see a physical therapist or chiropractor, they will probably recommend using a foam roller.  That was my case when I had a bad back injury a few years ago. Part of my treatment was using a foam roller.

There are a lot of different foam rollers available, so how do you choose the best foam roller for myofascial release?  Let’s get into that right now.

Best foam roller for myofascial release


321 STRONG Foam Roller

This multi-textured surface, solid-core foam roller gives you a trigger point massage just like you would get from a therapist.  You can get the exact massage you are after with the different texture points on the surface.

This medium density roller is excellent for beginners and effective for penetrating deep tight knots. The different zones apply varying amounts of pressure, which helps your muscles to relax and release those tight knots.

This roller is made from high-grade materials, and because it is a solid core roller, it will not lose its shape over time, even if you use it daily.

The 321 STRONG foam roller is lightweight, and compact measuring 13 inches long by 5 inches in diameter, so it is easy to take with you.  Take it to the gym, or when you are traveling.  You can always have this foam roller with you wherever you go.

With a 500 pound rating, this roller supports all body types while maintaining its shape and resistance. 321 STRONG foam roller is available in a wide variety of colors so you can choose your favorite. This is a top-rated and well-priced foam roller.

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321 STRONG Foam Massage Roller - Deep Tissue Massager For Your Muscles & Back, Black
12,251 Reviews
321 STRONG Foam Massage Roller - Deep Tissue Massager For Your Muscles & Back, Black
  • 12.75 inches x 5.25 inch diameter , lightweight yet rugged solid core EVA massage roller with triple grid 3D massage zones mimics the finger , palm , and thumb of a therapist's hands . Travel friendly at just 1 lb .
  • Medium density muscle roller is comfortable to use - making it easy for beginners , but still effective at penetrating the soft tissue layer of tired muscles . Soft enough to use while in pain from lower back injury , sciatica or plantar fasciitis .
  • One of the best recovery tools to treat muscle pain , increase performance and flexibility. Rolling before and after exercise sis part of a great stretching routine . Increases blood flow to massage site , flushing away stored lactic acid .
  • Stretch overworked and strained muscles of the leg , arms , and feet by rolling during your warm up and cool downs . Provides instant benefit to the hamstring , IT band , glutes , and calves by delivering superior massages at home or in the gym .
  • Loved by runners , exercise athletes , yoga and pilates students , swimmers , physical or sports therapy patients , and aid those just doing a normal fitness workout . Great for the arch of the foot , and any part of the superior body but the spine or neck .

OPTP PRO-Roller Soft Density Foam Roller

I wanted to add a softer roller to the mix here since some people may not be able to use a harder roller.  This is also an excellent option for beginners.  A foam roller doesn’t have to be hard as a rock to get the job done. Each body is unique, and some people might just need or prefer a softer foam roller.

The OPTP PRO comes in a 36 x 6 inch model, which is excellent for larger muscle groups and an 18 x 6 inch model, which is more portable. There is also a flat 36-inch model that is great for balance routines.

Even though this is a softer foam roller, don’t let that fool you.  This gentle version is still effective for sore muscles, tight fascia, and those very sensitive trigger points. The soft density roller is excellent for stabilizing, improving balance and core strength.

This roller is excellent for people who are looking for an effective massage tool with less intense pressure.

OPTP PRO-Roller Soft Density Foam Roller - Durable Roller for Massage, Stretching, Fitness, Yoga and Pilates - Blue, 36 Inches by 6 Inches (PSFR36B)
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OPTP PRO-Roller Soft Density Foam Roller - Durable Roller for Massage, Stretching, Fitness, Yoga and Pilates - Blue, 36 Inches by 6 Inches (PSFR36B)
  • PROFESSIONAL QUALITY: Designed to withstand heavy use at the gym or in a clinic; Closed-cell foam will wipe clean easily unlike more common open-cell foam rollers
  • MAXIMUM DURABILITY: Constructed of closed-cell, heat-molded EVA foam to outperform and outlast store model foam rollers
  • SOFT DENSITY: Features a softer, comfortable compression for gentle relief on tight areas during self-massage rolling. It also provides support for lying supine and performing a variety of exercises.
  • VERSATILE FITNESS TOOL: Ideal for balance and stability exercises such as Pilates in addition to traditional self-massage applications
  • STANDARD SIZE: Measures 36-inches long by 6-inches in diameter

Vulken 13” Vibrating Foam Roller

This 4-speed vibrating foam roller from Vulken packs quite a punch.  Why add vibration?  Because you can reach deeper into your muscles.

Four speeds include:

  • Level 1 – 2,600 RPM
  • Level 2 – 3,000 RPM
  • Level 3 – 3,600 RPM
  • Level 4 – 4,050 RPM

The variable speeds are meant to meet the different needs of people. Some are more advanced and want to reach deeper.

I can tell you from experience that using a vibrating foam roller is a very different experience. I was honestly not used to it at first, and level 1 was plenty.  You get more used to it over time, though. You can warm up with level 1 and work your way up from there.

This roller comes complete with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and holds a long charge (about two hours).  It also has a 15 minute shut down timer.

Measuring 13 inches long and 5 inches in diameter, this roller is portable so you can take it to the gym, or anywhere else you want to for that matter. The textured surface is handy for self-myofascial release. This roller is also an excellent choice for sciatica pain.

This roller offers excellent value at a reasonable price point.

Vulken 13” Vibrating Foam Roller 4 Speed High Intensity Deep Tissue Fitness Massager for Muscle Recovery Trigger Point Therapy, Myofascial Release.
117 Reviews
Vulken 13” Vibrating Foam Roller 4 Speed High Intensity Deep Tissue Fitness Massager for Muscle Recovery Trigger Point Therapy, Myofascial Release.
  • HIGH INTENSITY VIBRATION - Vibration enhances the effectiveness a foam roller has on your muscles. Its powerful motor delivers high-penetration relief and helps roll out tightness better than basic foam rolling.
  • 4 SPEED SETTINGS - Light/Moderate/Strong/Intense 4 Vibration levels from low to high to meet different needs. Ideal tool for warming up, circulation improvement and recovery of sore and tight muscles.
  • 13” COMPACT SIZE - Ultra portable, fits in most backpacks. Enjoy your personal massage therapist anytime, anywhere.
  • QUALITY MATERIAL - EVA foam shell transfers maximum vibration. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries give over 2 hours of use per charge. Comes with a 9V-1A adapter.

NextRoller 3-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller

I recently purchased this vibrating foam roller because I was curious to see how they work.  As I mentioned earlier, it takes a little bit of getting used to, at least for me.

This is a pretty aggressive roller with a textured surface, including knobs and flat spots. The knobby parts are great for digging in deep into tight areas.  The flat places are great for an overall rolling experience.

There are three vibration levels:

  • Level 1: 20Hz / 1200RPM
  • Level 2: 40Hz / 2400RPM
  • Level 3: 60Hz / 4000RPM

I started with low, and that was good for starting out I can tell you.

The roller comes with a charging cable, of course, and the charge lasts over two hours.  I have had it for a couple of weeks and have charged it only once during that time.

You can use this roller on hard surfaces like tile or wood, as well as carpet.  I think the best is a hard surface and an exercise mat, though. The roller is 13 inches long and about 6 inches in diameter, so it’s easy to take to the gym.  It also has a convenient carrying handle.

Once again, using a vibrating foam roller helps you to reach deeper.  This is a popular roller and will serve you well for a long time.

>>>Check out my complete review<<<

Nextrino Vibrating Foam Roller for Physical Therapy & Exercise - Deep Tissue Massage, Back Pain, Yoga, Leg Muscle Rollers - 3 Speed, High Density Massager Roll
612 Reviews
Nextrino Vibrating Foam Roller for Physical Therapy & Exercise - Deep Tissue Massage, Back Pain, Yoga, Leg Muscle Rollers - 3 Speed, High Density Massager Roll
  • The vibrating foam roller trusted by professional athletes - The NextRoller combines vibration and foam rolling to help professional athletes reach peak performance (we've been featured on CBS, NBC, FOX, and more). We help the pros excel, and we can help you achieve your fitness goals too!
  • Cutting edge 3-speed vibration technology - Choose between low, medium, and high intensities to apply the perfect amount of pressure to each of your sore muscles and joints. The NextRoller can help relieve muscle pain in your lower and upper back, knees, IT band, quads, hamstrings, and more.
  • Your personal massage therapist - Our foam roller incorporates vibration to aid recovery, mobility, and flexibility before and after weightlifting, CrossFit, yoga, jiu jitsu, running, cardio, or any other exercise. It's the ideal muscle roller for self massage and myofascial release to make sure your body is prepared to excel and remain injury free.
  • Portable and rechargeable - The NextRoller measures 6" in diameter and 13" in length. Our simple, included wall-outlet charging cable makes it easy to get a massage any time, anywhere. One full charge will give you over two hours of vibrating massage!

TriggerPoint GRID X Foam Roller

GRID X is another roller that I own and have used a lot.  This is the firmest roller from TriggerPoint. This roller was designed to break through the toughest and tightest spots to reduce muscle pain and soreness while helping to improve mobility.

This is a dense foam roller and is awesome for athletes and anyone who needs or prefers deep tissue massage. Honestly, if you are just starting out, this may not be the best option for you, until you get used to a very firm foam roller. You may want to try the GRID (without the X) also on this list.

But, if you do decide this is the roller for you, it is a foam roller that you can grow into for sure.

The three-dimensional surface has flat spots and bumpy spots.  The different texture allows you to really work deeper in the areas you need it most.  By applying different amounts of pressure and using the different dimensions, you can get the results you are after.

The roller is 13 inches long and about 6 inches in diameter.  One thing I really like about the GRID X foam roller is the hollow core. The core is rigid, kind of like PVC, but is covered with foam.  This helps the roller keep its shape over time.

With the hollow core, this foam roller is perfect for traveling.  You can put the GRID X in your gym bag or your travel bag and pack your stuff in and around the roller. It doesn’t take up much space. GRID X has a 550-pound capacity.

TriggerPoint GRID X Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, Extra Firm (13-Inch)
716 Reviews
TriggerPoint GRID X Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, Extra Firm (13-Inch)
  • Extra firm roller to break through the tightest trouble spots
  • 50% firmer than the original GRID foam roller
  • Sweat-proof and simple to clean
  • Trusted foam roller of physical and massage therapists, coaches, trainers and athletes
  • Official size and weight

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

This is another of my favorite foam rollers.  Like GRID X, the GRID foam roller has a rigid but hollow core, which is covered with foam.  Unlike GRID X, this roller is much friendlier in terms of density.  Basically, this roller is not nearly as firm as the GRID.

I have used PVC pipe in the past since I didn’t find that traditional foam rollers were not firm enough. I got to the point that I needed something harder.  I thought I was pretty cool using PVC pipe LOL.

The thing I didn’t like about using PVC is that it slides all over the place.  If you use PVC on the carpet, good luck.  Even on a mat, I would slide around with my gym shorts.

Anyway, I was looking for a roller that was firm but not too firm, and this was the perfect match.  The hard, hollow core is durable and will not break down over time, even with repeated use.  This roller has been a great entry point to a denser roller like the GRID X or NextRoller.

This roller is easy to pack and take with you to the gym, or wherever you are headed.  You can pack in and around it, which is fantastic.

I highly recommend this roller to anyone looking for an exceptional foam roller for myofascial release. This is a great option for beginners and more experienced users.

>>>Check out my complete review<<<

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, Original (13-Inch), Black
12,733 Reviews
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, Original (13-Inch), Black
  • Patented foam roller design offers a superior, multi-density exterior constructed over a rigid, hollow core
  • Constructed from quality materials that won't break down or lose shape from repeated use
  • Includes access to free online instructional video library on foam rolling best practices from the experts at TriggerPoint
  • Trusted foam roller of physical and massage therapists, coaches, trainers and athletes
  • Original GRID: Standard density, 13 x 5.5 inches, 500 pound weight limit; 1 year manufacturer's warranty

Prosource Fit High-Density Foam Roller

If you are looking for a traditional and inexpensive foam roller, this is a great option.  This is a sturdy, high-density foam roller that will work great for beginners and others.

There are four different size options available:

  • 12×6 inches (length, diameter)
  • 18×6 inches
  • 24×6 inches
  • 36×6 inches

The larger sizes are great for lying on to massage your spine.  Smaller rollers are easy to store and don’t take up much room. There are different options to meet your needs.

This foam roller from Prosource is fantastic for self-myofascial release in commonly tight areas, calves, glutes, hamstrings, etc. You don’t have to be an athlete for a fitness junkie to use this roller.  It’s ideal for all body types and fitness levels.

As you release trigger points and increase blood flow to your muscles, they can recover quicker. Quicker recovery means you can exercise more frequently. This is an excellent option if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, or are a beginner.


TriggerPoint Carbon foam roller

Yes, we have another foam roller from TriggerPoint on the list.  The Carbon roller is no joke.  It’s an extra firm roller with high nodules (knobs as I like to call them) to get deeper into your tissue.

If you are looking for a foam roller to dig deep and get the tough, tight, deep knots, you may want to give this one a shot.  The Carbon model is designed to help reduce muscle soreness, increase range of motion, and prevent injury.

The durable hollow-core construction is similar to the other models from TriggerPoint in that it will not compress and will last a long time.

Carbon comes in a 13 inch or 26-inch model, and both have a hollow core.  The shorter version is great for travel, or going to the gym and will not take up much space to store it.

The longer 26-inch roller is fantastic for large areas, like your back and spine. This is a wonderful foam roller for myofascial release, but it is a hard foam roller.  If you are a beginner, you may want to try the GRID or Prosource roller to get started.

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TriggerPoint CARBON Deep Tissue Foam Roller, 13-Inch
154 Reviews
TriggerPoint CARBON Deep Tissue Foam Roller, 13-Inch
  • Unlike traditional foam rollers, the CARBON's extra firm and high-profiled nodules go deep into connective tissue to treat sore muscles that hinder mobility
  • Flat surface between the high-profiled nodules provides room for soft tissue displacement and manipulation enhancing the flow of nutrients
  • For maximum results, use the CARBON Roller before and after physical activity; recommended for experienced users with very dense muscle tissue
  • Measures 13 inches x 55 inches and weighs 19 pounds; backed by one-year limited warranty

RumbleRoller

RumbleRoller is a classic foam roller that has been around for many years.  Don’t let the look of this roller fool you, it looks kind of treacherous.  The surface is designed with bumps that are firm yet flexible.

As you use the RumbleRoller, the bumps stretch the soft tissue in multiple directions.  This model eats away at trigger points, helping to get rid of muscle pain and soreness, all while helping to improve flexibility and range of motion.

RumbleRoller comes in three sizes:

  • 12-inch compact
  • 22 inch mid-size
  • 31-inch full size

There are also two different versions, Blue, the original density version, and Black, which is the extra firm model.  Both Blue and Black are available in all three different sizes mentioned above.

How to choose the right RumbleRoller?  If you are new to foam rolling or are used to a traditional foam roller, Blue (original density) is an excellent place to start.  Even though this is the “softer” of the two, it’s still a pretty aggressive foam roller.

If you need a harder foam roller or are using PVC pipe for bigger muscle groups, like glutes, hamstrings, give the Black model a try.  This model is considerably harder and is perfect for those who need more juice.  RumbleRollers are typically for people with advanced foam rolling experience.


Rolling with It

This EVA foam roller is going to be softer than some of the others on this list. If you are new to foam rolling or need a softer roller, you may want to consider this model.  Also, if you are recovering from an injury, you may need a less dense roller.

EVA and being softer has some advantages like it won’t stick to your skin, and it won’t slip on the floor like other models tend to.  Don’t get me wrong, this is still an excellent foam roller and will do a great job.   For folks who want or need a little bit softer roller, this is a great option.

Rolling with It comes in 3 sizes:

  • 13×6 inches (length, diameter)
  • 18×6 inches
  • 36×6 inches

The largest model is great for your back and spine, and larger areas you need to roll. The smaller version is more portable and easy to store.

Rolling with It is a quality foam roller.  A foam roller doesn’t have to be super hard to be the best foam roller for myofascial release.

36 Inch Length x 6 Inch Round - The Foam Roller - Best Firm High Density Eco-Friendly EVA Foam Rollers for Physical Therapy, Great Back Roller for Muscle Therapy, Mobility & Flexibility
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36 Inch Length x 6 Inch Round - The Foam Roller - Best Firm High Density Eco-Friendly EVA Foam Rollers for Physical Therapy, Great Back Roller for Muscle Therapy, Mobility & Flexibility
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  • ★ KISS MUSCLE PAIN GOODBYE: Tight muscles prevent you from performing your best. Poor mobility interferes with sleep and other daily activities. Sometimes stretching alone is not enough. This is why Chiropractors - Physical Therapists - Personal Trainers - Medical Professionals ALL recommend smooth firm foam rollers as the safest method for relieving back pain - neck pain - core stabilization - trigger point treatment - physical therapy - improving balance
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  • ★ SAVE WITH PROFESSIONAL GRADE RELIEF: Skip the expensive massage and get deep tissue therapy and myofascial release anytime you want! Improve muscle mobility & increase flexibility today. Our form roller is perfect for muscle reflexology, pre - post workout for Crossfit, Pilates, Yoga, Weight Training, Bodybuilding. Running, or ANY fitness enthusiasts. Our foam muscle roller will have you rolling your way to muscle soreness relief in minutes

How to use a foam roller

Below is an excellent video walkthrough of how to use a foam roller.  If you are new to foam rolling, or just need some guidance, I highly recommend you watch. They cover different body parts and really explain how to use a foam roller properly.

Tips and tricks

One thing I have learned for people new to foam rolling is you can start using a foam roller against the wall to get the feel of it.  Roll up and down your back, maybe your hips and glutes for starters.  Once you have the feel of it and are more used to rolling, then you can move to the floor.

You can also apply more or less bodyweight for a different experience.  Maybe you start on the floor sitting on your butt and rollout your calves with the majority of your body weight, not on the roller itself.  As you get more accustomed to rolling, you can add more bodyweight.

Conclusion: Best foam roller for myofascial release

We covered a lot in this post, and I hope you have discovered the foam roller that will work best for you. There are a lot of things to consider when you buy a foam roller.  The rollers in this post are some of the best ones available.

I really like the NextRoller as a firm, vibrating foam roller. This is unlike using a standard roller and takes some time to get used to it.  Once you start using this roller, though, it’s incredible.

If you need something softer, I like the GRID foam roller.  It’s soft, but not too soft, and you can grow into it.  At the end of the day, of course, it depends on your needs as to which roller you choose.


FAQ’s

Should I buy a hard or soft foam roller?

That really depends on the person.  Each person will have unique needs. If you are using a foam roller to recover from an injury, you might need to use a softer roller to start with. If you are new to foam rolling or are sensitive, you should probably use a soft roller to get you started, like the Rolling with It, or OPTP PRO-Roller models in the review.

If you have been using a foam roller for a long time, but aren’t seeing the benefits you hoped for, you might want to try a more aggressive roller, like a RumbleRoller, or the NextRoller vibrating foam roller.

These rollers will dig deeper to get those pesky knots. You might need a hard, bumpy roller to get deep into big muscles like glutes (butt), hamstrings, etc.

How long does the roller need to be?

Again, this depends on your needs.  The longer foam rollers are great to lie down on your back and work the muscles around your spine.  Shorter foam rollers are easy to travel with and take to the gym and don’t take a lot of space to store.

What is the best foam roller for traveling?

Hollow-core rollers like the GRID and GRID X are excellent for traveling because you can use the hollow area to pack in and around (my expert tip). Solid core and vibrating rollers will take up more space in your travel or gym bag.

What size foam roller is best?

Again, this all depends on what your needs are.  I find that I can do pretty much whatever I need to do with a 13-inch roller. This does not allow me to lie down on my back and roll out the spine entirely, though.  The 13-inch variety is a great all-around size and is very portable.

What makes one foam roller better than another?

The material used and how the person will be using it.  For instance, someone who is just starting out might not want to start with a hard roller like a Black RumbleRoller.  Instead, a Prosource might be better.

Vibrating foam rollers add an element that helps to dig deeper into the tissues which some people need. I like the GRID rollers as an alternative to using PVC. So it all depends on the user and the application.

How long does a vibrating foam roller hold a charge?

Typically you can get about 2 to 2 ½ hours usage out of one charge.

What is the best foam roller for a beginner?

If you are just starting out, you may want a roller that is a bit softer, like Rolling with It.  The OPTP PRO-Roller is extra soft and might be good also.  One drawback to this model is you may outgrow it quickly.  You don’t want to have to buy another roller in the near future.

Another great option for beginners is the TriggerPoint GRID foam roller and is one that I own and use.  This is a hollow core roller and you can grow into it.  This roller is firm, but not too firm and will last a long time. GRID is a sturdy roller that can be used on hard surfaces or carpet.  It is also very portable.

If you are just starting out, I recommend starting either up against a wall or start out on the floor, using very little bodyweight, until you get the hang of it.

How do I know which foam roller I should buy?

Good question. You need to keep a few things in mind, like what is your budget and do you want a firm or soft foam roller. From a budget perspective, you can spend under $20 on a foam roller, or over $100. Depending on your budget, there are different options to choose from.

With that, you will also need to figure out how dense you want the foam roller to be.  If you are new to rolling and have a $100 budget, you don’t want to jump right in and use a RumbleRoller or GRID X as these are very dense and made for people with more experience.

A good mid-range roller would be the GRID (not GRID X).  GRID is a great all-around foam roller that will not set you back a lot of money but will hold up and last a long time.

For people with more experience, you may want to try a vibrating foam roller like NextRoller. This is a dense foam roller, with the added element of vibration. Of course, this is on the higher end as far as price goes, so you need to keep that in mind.

 

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