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How to choose the right foam roller for myofascial release

Foam rollers come in all shapes, sizes and textures, so how do you decide which roller is right for your client?

First, let’s cover the basics. Foam rolling has skyrocketed in popularity for a reason. It can loosen tight muscles, increase circulation, reduce muscle soreness, improve range of motion and provide myofascial release, reducing your client’s chance of injury. You can integrate it into their warmup and cool down for pre- and post-workout muscle recovery.

Foam rollers can also be used as a workout tool, creating instability during core exercises to challenge balance or as a bolster for opening and releasing parts of the body.

There’s no shortage of benefits to using a foam roller, but there's also no shortage of options and styles to choose from. For those new to foam rolling, it might take some time to get used to the uncomfortable sensation of self-massage, so here’s a quick rundown of six popular styles to help your client roll things out right.

1. Soft rollers

Great for: Clients new to muscle and fascial release techniques

02 Soft rollers
  • Offers a gentler experience for inexperienced users and those with particularly tight muscles
  • Ideal for working more sensitive areas, such as IT band, hips and knees
  • Easier on bony areas, such as hip joints, shoulder blades and knees
  • Can lie on it supine or use as a proprioceptive tool in STOTT PILATES® Matwork exercises

Foam Roller Soft Density - 36 inch

Try this: Roll away your stress

2. Firm rollers

Great for: Clients familiar with foam rolling, myofascial release in quads and calves, balance exercises

Choosing the right Foam Roller
  • Higher-density material applies more pressure through the body's bulky tissue, making it ideal for myofascial release in quads and calves
  • Activates deep core muscles, improves balance and posture
  • Ideal for whole bodyweight movement patterns and balancing tasks
  • Dense and durable

Foam Roller Deluxe - 36 inch

Try this: The Foam Roller challenge

04 Massage point rollers

3. Massage point rollers

Great for: Clients more experienced in foam rolling and looking for a deeper, trigger point massage

  • Protruding points target trigger points and deeply massage muscle tissue
  • Ideal for myofascial release
  • Also functions as a workout tool for warmups and core exercises

Massage Point Foam Roller Two-in-One

Try this: Hip release with Massage Point Foam Roller

05 Massage Sticks

4. Massage sticks

Great for: Targeted self-massage

  • Great for relieving muscle tension and trigger points, loosening knots and releasing fascia
  • Flexibility makes it easier to target specific muscles with a controlled level of tension and pressure
  • Handheld, compact and portable tool to complement your stretching routine

Flex Massage Stick

Try this: Exercises to do with the Flex Massage Stick

5. Inflatable rollers

Great for: Rehab and active aging clients, travel

06 Inflatable rollers
  • Easily adjust firmness and level of challenge by adding or reducing air
  • Use it for gentle myofascial and muscle release, increasing circulation and range of motion
  • Use as an exercise prop to create instability, activating deep stabilizing muscles to strengthen the core while mobilizing upper back, shoulders, calves and quads
  • Light, portable and travel-friendly

Inflatable Body Roller - 35 inch

6. Half-round rollers

Great for: Beginner and rehab clients

01 Half-round rollers
  • The flat base makes it more stable than a regular roller for enhanced safety and control
  • Good for core and balance training
  • Allows pivoting and point-loading
  • Helps build proprioception after a knee or ankle injury
  • Ideal for myofascial release and working out muscle knots

Foam Roller Deluxe, Half - 36 inch

Want to know more about fascia and the benefits of foam rolling? Read Ask the Expert: Find out more about fascia.

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