woman foam rolling her back

Best Foam Roller in Australia - A Complete Review

Nothing quite beats the relief a massage can give your cramped and stiff muscles after a long intensive workout or an exhausting day at the office. Although a physical massage at a spa is the dream for many of us in such scenarios, a personal foam roller can sometimes be the next best thing. In fact, there’s a lot more to a foam roller than you might think. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the massager, the specific design, stiffness and size of the roller can really transform your post workout recovery regime!

“If you’ve already tried using a foam roller, you may have a love/hate relationship with it. The process of using the roller can be uncomfortable but massaging knots (also called trigger points or myofascial adhesions) may help free your muscles of their grip.” - Rei Outdoor School Instructor – Matt French

In this article you will get a comprehensive guide of what particular features to look for when purchasing a foam roller, as well as get to know the types and brands available to the Australian market in 2021.

What You Need to Know Before Purchasing a Foam Roller

Nowadays with the growing popularity of muscle building exercises and fitness culture, foam rollers are seen more and more often in gyms and sports centres. You can probably find them being used by individuals of all fitness levels and physiques. You would probably also notice that foam rollers are typically cylindrical and look quite simplistic.

If you’re convinced you need to try one for yourself, there are a few factors you need to consider before buying a personal foam roller.

Foam roller for hip flexors

1. Density: How soft or stiff do you need it to be?

Depending on the material that the foam roller is made out of, the density in different models will vary. Currently there are three main materials to choose from on the market: Polyethylene (PE), Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and Expandable Polypropylene (EPP). The PE is the softest material, EPP is the most stiff, while EVA lies somewhere in the middle of the two other materials.

The density of the foam roller is an important aspect of the massager. It’s precisely this factor that should be adequately evaluated based on your pain threshold, level of fitness and foam rolling experience.

  • Polyethylene Foam Rollers - PE foam rollers are typically the cheapest available option. They are sometimes hollow in the centre, which can account for the softness of the massage that is felt. Although you can probably find solid filled PE foam rollers more often. Unfortunately, the softness makes this material also the most vulnerable to wear and tear, so it is not the best material in terms of durability.
  • Ethylene Vinyl Acetate Foam RollersEVA is a great material for shock absorption. It’s the material with medium density, sturdy enough to be durable, while still soft enough to be used by beginners. It’s quite light weight and has a sponge like consistency. In the same category of material, some brands also offer high density EVA, which is slightly more firm. This material is generally a good starting option for those who want to get into foam rolling.
  • Expandable Polypropylene Foam Rollers - EPP foam rollers are on the higher end of the market. These massagers are designed as tightly moulded polypropylene material and are intended for athletes and clinicians for use on very tight muscles and high pain thresholds.

2. Size: What Length and Diameter do you need?

Foam rollers tend to come in a variety of different lengths and diameters. When choosing the size of the foam roller you want to purchase, here are some factors you need to also consider:

What muscle groups do you want to target?

Depending on the area of the body that you want to target, different lengths and diameters would work best for different muscles. For example, for larger muscles, like the ones on the thighs, hip flexors or glutes a 60-90 cm long and 12-15cm diameter foam roller would be ideal. On the other hand, if you wish to target smaller muscles like the ones located in the neck or shoulders, a more compact foam roller (in both length and diameter) would be better suited to target these areas. Similarly, you could also opt for a foam roller ball to hit those sweet spots between or under the shoulder blades. It’s important to note that if you wish to use a foam roller for relieving pain in the back, you should always opt for the longest foam roller you can find. The back is a very delicate area, so it is extremely important to not exert too much pressure in one point while using the foam roller for this particular purpose.

Is portability of the foam roller important to you?

If you are someone who is constantly on the go, changing workout spots and traveling to new locations on a weekly basis, having a portable foam roller might be the most convenient option. In this scenario, consider purchasing a foam roller that is smaller in length, for example 30 cm, that would easily fit into your carry-on bag or suitcase.

Are you tight on space to do your foam rolling?

If you have not got a home gym and space is a limiting factor for you, you may also want to consider opting for the foam rollers of shorter lengths, like ones that are 30cm long.

Do you need a foam roller for physical therapy?

Generally, most foam rollers come in a specific diameter of 12-15 cm. However, if you are using it for physical therapy you may need one with a smaller diameter to be closer to the floor – this helps gain some added stability when performing the rolling exercises.

3. Foam Pattern: Bumps and Ridges or Smooth?

Currently there are a lot of different models of foam rollers available on the market, particularly with different surface patterning. Theoretically, the smooth surface foam rollers are designed to offer equal pressure across the entire tissue being manipulated, while surface patterns are designed to mimic specialized treatments that can be obtained by professional masseurs. These textures vary in degree of protrusion, levels and pattern type which can help work out particular knots and tangles in your muscles.

A recent study comparing the effectiveness of three different types of surface patterns on foam rollers found that multilevel and grid-like foam rollers seem to have a greater immediate effect post intervention on quadricep muscles of participants than smooth surface foam rollers. This study suggests that clinicians may have better outcomes in treating myofascial tissues with surface patterned foam rollers than with smooth massagers.

Trigger Point foam roller for back

4. Tech Complexity: Simple or Advanced (with added Heat and Vibrations)?

The deeper we are into the 21st century, the more you’ll notice how all gadgets and equipment seem to be getting more and more technologically complicated. This also is the case with foam rollers. Nowadays you can find foam rollers that are a bit more sophisticated. Some brands offer models that have an added heating option, which is actually not such a surprising addition given the benefits of heat in massage therapy. Heat helps reduce the stiffness of the muscle, improves blood circulation and minimizes pain.

Other brands also offer the option of vibration while using the foam roller. Vibration therapy has also been previously shown to be beneficial for muscle relaxation and pain relief. Although it should be noted that with such added functionality, the price of such foam rollers can also be dramatically increased. And these gadgets then would require a power source to maintain this added function.

Best Foam Rollers in Australia Reviewed

OUR TOP PICK

VIBRA Vibrating Foam Roller
  • Next level vibrating roller
  • Includes charging cable and fitness guide
  • Recommended by physiotherapists

The VIBRA Vibrating Foam Roller is a great foam roller for those seeking to have an added vibrating effect to their normal foam rolling routine. It has a strong and incredible engine that delivers intense vibrations of up to 3600RPM. Fortunately, this massager has 4 different intensity settings and a pulsating setting to choose from, so you can play around and find the ideal intensity for soothing your muscles after a workout. It’s also fully rechargeable by USB, with the battery life lasting over 4 hours.

This massage foam roller is one of the only high-tech models available on the market. It has a unique LED control panel on the side of the foam roller that shows you the battery life, and helps you adjust the settings you want. Apart from the vibration settings, the foam roller has a honeycomb surface pattern that allows you to use the massager on its own as well! The foam is high density, and the pattern is designed to mimic acupressure by professional masseur hands.

 It’s truly a great foam roller and has received hundreds of positive reviews by users all over the world.

Pros

  • 4 different intensity settings
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Very durable
  • Honeycomb grid for trigger point therapy

Cons

  • Louder than other models 

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
  • Original patented product
  • Trusted by professionals
  • Includes access to online instructional videos

The TriggerPoint GRID foam roller is based on a patented foam roller design that had been proven in studies to effectively relieve muscle stiffness. It has a multi-density exterior made up of high - quality material that is constructed over a hollow yet firm core that won’t break or loose it’s shape upon repeated use. This particular brand and design were voted Amazon’s choice and is trusted by many clinicians, physiotherapists and coaches to provide optimal muscle recovery and relaxation. It’s great for warming up the muscles before exercises to prevent injuries. The foam roller also comes with handy online instructional videos, to make sure that you get the best possible result for your muscle recovery.

The design is meant to replicate the physiognomy of a therapist’s hands with wide sections that are meant to mimic the palms, longer tubular sections that are meant to mimic the fingers, and several small, yet firm sections that replicate the feeling of fingertips. This truly smart design is ideal for athletes and amateur sports enthusiasts.

Should you be interested in this model, feel free to check out our detailed Trigger Point Grid review.

Pros

  • Durable Construction
  • Warranty Included
  • Quick delivery
  • Remains Cylindrical 

Cons

  • Narrower than other models

5BILLION Peanut Massage Ball
  • Relieves tension along the spine
  • Includes carry bag and workout guide
  • Ensures a relaxed sleep

The 5Billion Peanut Massage Ball is an alternative type of foam roller that is an amazing little invention. It has the shape of two individual balls fused together. If you have experienced back pain before, you might have tried the home DIY version of this massager made from a sock and two tennis balls. If you’ve tried it, you also know that this particular shape is perfect for rolling across the back to relieve pressure surrounding the spine. The 5Billion Peanut Massage Ball is far better than any home-made DIY massager, which you are guaranteed to fall in love with from the first try.

The unique design of this type of massager allows the user to adjust and apply exactly the amount of pressure they need without risking damage to the back muscles. The massager is light and compact, making it perfect to reach the more difficult knots that other larger foam rollers can’t seem to get. It is also perfectly portable, can be used at home, in the office and virtually on any chair. Once you get the hang of the technique of manually applying pressure, this massager becomes irreplaceable. Users have reported it to be extremely helpful after intense workouts on the back and help facilitate a faster recovery time. It’s possible to use this massager on the back, the thighs, the glutes and other muscles that develop tight individual knots.

On top of that, 10-15 minutes of rolling the peanut massage ball on the spine before bed helps rid the body of unnecessary tension that’s accumulated from the day and ensure a truly relaxed sleep.

Pros

  • Easy to run along sides of the spine
  • Light and compact
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee 

Cons

  •  Quite hard on sensitive muscles

Foam rolling is great for relieving muscle tension, but what takes it to a next level is applying heat to the muscle of interest. The Moji Heated Foam Roller is basically your normal multifunctional foam roller, but with the added beneficial option of applying heat to the muscles. The foam roller can be placed in the microwave for 3 minutes and 20 seconds, after which it can be used directly on the muscles. The results are quite amazing. The heat is maintained in the foam roller for about 45 minutes, and nicely dissipates from the material throughout the foam rolling session. It is perfect to target slightly more tense areas of the body that just can’t seem to be released from normal foam rolling.

The only precaution that needs to be considered when using this heated foam roller is that the surface of the massager can get quite hot. So, it’s a good option to first play around with the microwaving settings (make sure not to go over 4 minutes) and find the optimal temperature for your skin. Be aware that certain areas of the body, like the back may be more sensitive to heat than others. Also, it is important to make sure that individual muscles aren’t overstimulated by the effects of the massager and the applied heat.

The inner material of the foam roller is designed to maintain the heat for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, this material is also what makes the Moji Foam Roller slightly heavier than other options, so it might not be the best massager to travel with.

Pros

  •  Maintains heat for up to 45minutes
  • Releases endorphins
  • Fast delivery

Cons

  • Heavy due to heating material

SKLZ Unisex's Hydro Roller Massage Roller
  • Stainless steel bottle that won't cave
  • Two-in-one sustainable fitness product
  • Firm roll on the go

If you are looking for a foam roller that is compact to carry around, but still sturdy enough to give a decent foam rolling experience, this option might be the best for you. The SKLZ Unisex Hydro Massage Roller and Bottle is a genius combination of a functional water bottle and a foam roller. The stainless-steel material of the bottle gives this portable foam roller the cylindrical shape and sturdiness to handle the weight of the body. It isn’t too heavy and is quite compact in size, making it perfect for use on arms and legs. This design is great for athletes or amateurs who want to train in parks or anywhere outdoors, without having the need to carry tons of equipment. Because of its small size, this foam roller isn’t intended for use on back muscles.

The design of the bottle is also quite appealing: it’s sleek and black and weighs only 0.2 kilograms.

Overall, if you are looking for a portable and discrete foam roller to carry around on a daily basis, this model is the best one you can find.

Pros

  • Compact and sleek
  •  Multiple uses
  • Stainless steel makes it very sturdy

Cons

  • Rubber can get in the way whilst drinking

Verdict

No matter what level of fitness you have, a foam roller can ultimately help improve your workouts and the health of your muscles.

“I am a certified Crossfit Level 1 Trainer, and personal trainer. I incorporate foam rolling into all my workouts, and those with clients.” - Author at MyFoamRollers.com – John James

In this review we looked at several different foam rollers best suited for different needs and scenarios. Our research found that if you are looking for a foam roller with the added vibration option, your best choice would be the VIBRA Vibrating Foam Roller (Number 1 in our review). The vibrations really take your foam rolling experience to the next level and help you reach those hard to target muscles after an intense workout.

If you are in the market for a simpler version, but one that is just as effective you may want to consider the Grid Foam Roller from Trigger Point (Number 2 in our review). The specific grid-like patterns of the foam roller helps to relieve tension build-up and make it easier to reach deeper knots.

On the other hand, if you need something to specifically reach the tight muscles under the shoulder blades or by the neck, we find that the 5billion Peanut Massage Ball (Number 3 in our review) works wonders. It’s compact and easy to use and can really get into those hard-to-reach spots around the neck and shoulders.

The Moji Heated Foam Roller (Number 4 in our review) is by far the best option for a heated massage to relieve the tension in the muscles. It’s an amazing way to relax the tissue without overstimulating the area with pressure.

Finally, for travel enthusiastic gym go-ers, the SKLZ Unisex Hydro Foam Roller and Stainless-Steel Water Bottle (Number 5 in our review) might just become your best friend. It’s two in one function is perfect for gym enthusiasts that have sore muscles most of the day and need a cheeky massage every few hours to relieve the tension.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I wash my foam roller?

Generally, it is recommended to clean the foam roller with a damp cloth and a bit of soapy water. It’s not recommended to place the foam roller in a washing machine or dryer, as this can damage the material. So ideally, you should opt for air drying.

Can I microwave my foam roller for added heat?

Yes, if your purchased foam roller is intended for heated treatment, you can. Although you should be extremely careful if the foam roller you use is not primarily intended for heating, since the material could melt or be damaged. For these reasons you should always consult the manufacturer’s website or usage manual to be 100% sure.

How do I use a foam roller?

If you are new to foam rolling it is better to start with softer density massagers. Since you generally tend to use your own body weight in this massaging technique, it is important to consider how much weight is being applied to your muscles with such a technique. By starting from a low density/softer massager roller you will gain an understanding on the amount of pressure and stiffness that your muscles can tolerate.

At the first try you should start by positioning yourself on the foam roller, with muscle of interest directly on the massager. Then gently pass the weight of your body up and down to roll on the massager. You should feel some tenderness in your tissue, but it definitely should not be too painful. You should try to roll your muscles for about 5-30 seconds, and theoretically should feel some relief.

Then when you have a better understanding of how to control the pressure applied to the muscle and the amount of weight you exert; you can switch to higher density foam rollers as needed.

When should I use a foam roller?

A massage with a foam roller can be performed anytime. The best combination for optimal muscle recovery is of course before (to warm up the muscles) and/or after your workout (to cool them down and stimulate blood circulation). By being consistent with your foam rolling regime, you can prevent unwanted injuries from over-stimulated stiff muscles.

Why is a foam roller so useful for athletes?

Foam rolling as a technique is generally really well suited for athletes that train in high resistance regimes. In such trainings, the same muscles tend to be overstimulated, becoming very stiff over time. A foam roller helps massage these particular muscles, circulate blood and allow better supply of oxygen to the tissue for optimum recovery. This also helps stimulate the muscles and prevent injuries.

What should I avoid when foam rolling?

The number one rule for effective post workout muscle recovery is to ensure you do not foam roll directly on an injured area. This is because, first, you may, without wanting to do so, create more inflammation in the affected area, and worsen the pain. Secondly, it’s quite possible that with some injuries the location of the pain you feel is not the source of the injury. If you are ever in a situation where you have injured a muscle, always consult a medical practitioner before using a foam rolling technique on the area. Muscle and nerve injuries can be quite dangerous, so take all the precautions necessary. 1–4

References

  • Cheatham, S. W. & Stull, K. R. Roller massage: Comparison of three different surface type pattern foam rollers on passive knee range of motion and pain perception. J. Bodyw. Mov. Ther. 23, 555–560 (2019).
  • Guo, J. et al. Massage alleviates delayed onset muscle soreness after strenuous exercise: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Front. Physiol. 8, 1–12 (2017).
  • Veqar, Z. & Imtiyaz, S. Vibration therapy in management of delayed onset muscle soreness. J. Clin. Diagnostic Res. 8, 10–13 (2014).
  • Dehghan, M. & Farahbod, F. The efficacy of thermotherapy and cryotherapy on pain relief in patients with acute low back pain, a clinical trial study. J. Clin. Diagnostic Res. 8, LC01–LC04 (2014).

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