What Size Foam Roller will Work for Me? | Foam Roller Sizes
A question that many people have is, “What size foam roller will work for me?” There are a ton of choices over on Amazon or your local sports shop and it can be a little bit overwhelming.
However, we’re here to help! We’ll break down this common question and give you some quick advice to help you when purchasing your first foam roller.
Foam Roller Size: The Summary
Foam rollers vary by length and diameter. You can often find 3 lengths: 12, 24 and 36 inches. For diameter, foam rollers range from 3-6 inches. The size you need depends on the muscle group you want to target. A longer, thicker roller is ideal for the legs, while a narrower shorter one is perfect for shoulders for example.
Foam Roller Sizes: What muscle groups do I plan on using it for?
If the legs, hip flexors or glutes, then you’ll probably want to stick with a larger one, probably 36 inches in length.
You’ll also want one of the larger diameter ones of about 5-6 inches. Most rollers are this width, so don’t worry if the one you’re considering doesn’t specifically mention this.
For smaller muscles like in the shoulders or neck, then you’ll may want a smaller one, both in length and diameter that’s a bit easier to deal with. You may even consider a roller ball for a very small area like under your shoulder blades.
What Size Foam Roller for Back?
Just a quick word of caution here. You shouldn’t actually roll your spine out. Remember, rollers deal with muscles and not bone. That said, there are lots of exercises you can do to relieve back pain, including with the hip flexors, buttocks, or glutes for example.
If you’re going to use a foam roller for your back pain, then you’ll want to stick with one of the longer, firmer ones. This is because you’ll often be putting your full body weight, either the glutes, buttocks or hip flexors on the roller. And this will just be easier with a longer roller that won’t compress under your weight.
Whether or not you get a smooth, or textured roller is actually up to you.
Will I take it when I go travelling?
If you plan to take it with you on vacation, then you’ll want a smaller one, probably 12 inches that’ll fit easily into your suitcase.
You may also consider a smaller diameter one too so you can bring more of the good stuff—clothes! Or, take home some souvenirs with you.
Many people have a travel roller for this situation, and then have a full size one that they use at home because they’re much easier to deal with.
How dense of roller do I want?
Some people love the firmer rollers, while other hate them. Try out a few different models at the gym if possible so you can see what works for you. In general, though, the firmer ones are a bit more durable.
Similarly, others love the ones with little knobs on them while others hate them.
Let’s get into more details about each of these things.
Foam Roller Diameter
Most foam rollers are 5-6 inches in diameter. Most people find that this size is comfortable for getting their body onto it and then rolling over it. There are generally two reasons why someone would choose a foam roller with a smaller diameter such as 3-4 inches:
- Those wanting a more targeted massage for a specific area of their body.
- Physical therapy patients or older users who need to be closer to the floor when rolling for some added stability.
If you’re looking for your first roller, stick with the more versatile 5-6 inch ones.
- High-density blue speckled foam roller with molded edges: Extra firm - best for...
- Ideal for balance, strengthening, flexibility, and rehab exercises
- Made from molded polypropylene to maintain firmness
- Lightweight, easy to clean and transport
- Measures approximately 12 x 6 x 6 inches (LxWxH)
Foam Roller Length
When people ask the question, “What size foam roller?,” it’s usually the length that they are wondering about the most. Although there are a ton of foam roller designs, they often come in three pretty standard sizes. We’ll discuss them briefly here:
- 36 inches. This is usually the longest foam roller available from most companies and it makes a perfect choice for rolling your back. A shorter foam roller might not be able to do this exercise effectively.
- 24 inches. This length of foam roller is perfect for smaller parts of your body such as your arms and legs.
- 12 inches. This small foam roller works really well for workouts in small spaces. It’s also a great pick if you’re going to be traveling with it, such as to a yoga class or in your suitcase on the road. Finally, you may want to consider the shorter one if you’re using if you have something like plantar fasciitis and are using it on your feet.
What about for your first foam roller? We recommend sticking with the 36 inch one. They’re long enough to cover your entire back. Plus, they’re more stable and easier to control for doing things like hamstring exercises than the shorter ones.
Compare Foam Rollers
Do you want to see the range of options for rollers available? Here are just a few of them to check out for yourself:
Foam Roller Firmness
Firmness is the final thing to consider when buying a foam roller. The general rule about this is that the firmer or harder the roller is, the more intense the massage will be. The softer it is, the more gentle the massage will be. Keeping that in mind, it’s often recommended that beginners go with a softer foam roller while advanced users get a firmer one.
Although there are exceptions, color can often give you a hint as to the firmness of the foam roller. White ones are usually made from open-cell polyethylene foam and are the softest. The soft white ones can sometimes warp pretty easily, so make sure you buy one that guarantees against this.
What are Foam Rollers Made Of?
Blue or green foam rollers are made from EVA foam, but have closed cells and are medium firmness. Finally, the black rollers are made from closed-cell polyethylene foam using high heat which makes them extremely firm.
What Size Foam Roller Will Work for Traveling?
If you’re looking for a travel roller, here are our top recommendations. If you have a bit of space in your suitcase, then consider bringing along a 12-inch foam roller. It’s short enough that it can fit into most suitcases.
You might also consider a muscle roller stick. It’s usually around this same length, or slightly longer. However it has the advantage of being much more compact if you want to save space for all those souvenirs!
Finally, if you just go carry on, or really don’t have that much space, then opt for a massage ball. It’s about the size of a lacrosse ball and can fit into the palm of your hand easily. It works well for targeting those small areas.
Here are some of our recommendations for those travel rollers to get out those kinks from the plane or car!
Learn More about How to Pick a Foam Roller
Do you want to find out more about choosing the best roller for your needs? Are you looking at buying one soon? Then check out this video below to find out what foam rollers are made of, the various size and texture options, as well as how to pick one.
Summary: What Size Foam Roller will Work for Me?
We hope this short article has helped you with the question, “What size foam roller will work for me?” Remember, the basic choices you have are regarding length (long-36 inches, medium-24 inches, and short-12 inches), as well as firmness (soft-medium-hard). Good luck in choosing the best foam roller for you!
Want to buy a foam roller? Check out our Foam Roller Reviews.
Or, if you’re buying a foam roller, you can also check out one of our top picks here, the TriggerPoint Grid:
- Patented foam roller Design offers a superior, Multi density exterior constructed...
- Constructed from Quality Materials that won’t break down or lose shape from...
- Includes access to Free online instructional video library on foam rolling Best...
- Trusted foam roller of physical and Massage therapists, coaches, trainers and...
- Original GRID: Standard density, 13 x 5.5 inches, 500 pound weight limit; 1 year...
Have your Say about Foam Roller Sizes
What are your thoughts about the best length of foam roller? Are you going for the 12, 24, or 36 inch ones? Or, another size variation? Did we answer your question, “What size foam roller should I get?” Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2020-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API