Foam rollers are a pretty simple concept, so when new ideas pop up, we pay attention.
The vibrating foam roller is the new hype, with a fantastic reputation among elite athletes and individual fitness enthusiasts alike. Today we’re going to take you through this interesting development in recovery technology and why you might benefit from one – as well as reviewing popular examples on the market.
Read on if you’re considering a vibrating foam roller, or if you just want to know the low-down on what these products can do for you!
- Top 6 Vibrating Foam Roller Reviews
- Do Vibrating Foam Rollers Really Work?
- Is a Vibrating Foam Roller Better Than a Regular One?
- Getting the Most from Your Vibration Foam Roller
Top 6 Vibrating Foam Roller Reviews
1. NextRoller 3-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller
This is a good place to start our list. The NextRoller is a 3-speed vibrating foam roller with a simple design that consists of a notched surface, tough outer cylinder, and a motor inside.
It’s actually one of a number of white-box products based on this design, so many of the problems and benefits of the NextRoller will be visible in other products using the same design. This is interesting, however, since the NextRoller has a relatively high price point for such a standard product.
This product is a middle-of-the-road example of a vibrating foam roller. It does everything you’d expect based on the name (it works as a foam roller and it has several vibration functions), but it’s definitely not a game-changer by itself.
This product definitely works – and works well – but it’s not setting the world on fire. We’d expect more from a product with this price point, with occasional customer reports that the battery life is either low or the product won’t work at 100% charge.
This is often related to poor construction, as the foam roller’s battery and motor can easily become disconnected. This is a problem, since NextRoller return policy involves customer payment – definitely not good!
2. Phenom 3-Speed Ergonomic Vibrating Foam Roller
If we thought the price for the NextRoller was expensive, the Phenom Speed Vibrating foam roller is taking it to the next level.
This product comes with an enormous price tag, though we do think there’s more value to this as it does not seem to be based on the same design as NextRoller and a dozen other brands. However, this design is needlessly spiky and uncomfortable, which we’re not entirely sold on.
Customer satisfaction for the Phenom supports the valuation – with a consistent build and high-quality battery life. There are almost no problems associated with the quality assurance, motor-battery connection, or effectiveness of this product.
The central region of the Phenom roller is also far more ergonomic than the rest of the roller – or of competitors – and offers a less invasive way of rolling tender areas like the outer thigh. These areas need less pressure and Phenom offers a way of achieving that, often missed by other brands.
The company’s overall customer service and management of issues also seems to be exemplar, which is reassuring in the fitness market. We think this sets a great tone and, despite the expense, this is a great product.
3. LifePro SURGER 4-Speed Vibrating Foam Roller
We think the addition of a 4th-speed setting is a great choice for this product. The opportunity to work with greater nuance is fantastic and provides a way of building through the settings without jumping in the deep end.
We also like the balance of texturing and smoothness on the foam roller itself. The addition of spiky textures doesn’t really provide much benefit, and the varied texture profiles of the LifePro SURGER vibrating foam roller cuts out the nonsense.
There are some other, less-important selling points that might be useful. LifePro claims the strongest battery on the market, which is largely irrelevant since intensity of vibration isn’t necessarily the best measure of effectiveness.
The more important aspect of this product is the lifetime guarantee, which we value greatly. The only problem here is that reports of poor customer service – a simple inability to get in touch with the manufacturer – is common.
Reports of disconnected batteries and motors are a concern with this product, though not with the alarming regularity of the NextRoller. Quality assurance on the product could certainly do with improvements, as the price tag and performance are actually pretty good, landing it in second place after Phenom.
4. Vulken Intesnity Vibrating Foam Roller
The Vulken intensity vibrating foam roller gets some things very right, and others very wrong.
The carry bag is a way cooler alternative to the nylon drawstring bags we see with other products. This is a step up and provides a sense of improved quality and care from the manufacturer, as well as making you look like less of a tool.
The length (17”) of the product is also great, while the 4-speed design provides more accurate control over vibration function. This is a nice change since many products on the market only provide 3 speeds.
However, we can’t understand the choice of a (supposedly) high-density foam outer for this product. The entire point of the plastic shell cylinder is to transfer force effectively, but the choice of a semi-solid outer absolutely undermines this choice.
The foam causes force to dissipate, rather than being transferred effectively into your soft tissues. This defeats the point of using a vibrating foam roller, to a certain extent, since the effect of the vibration is reduced.
5. FitIndex Electric Foam Roller
This is definitely the budget option on this list, with a price tag that is less than half of products like Phenom. This is, however, another example of a product with a high-density foam finish that reduces overall effectiveness.
The lightweight design is fine, but it is the result of a poor transfer of force in the design which ultimately means reduced effectiveness and results. The 4 vibration settings are a nice bonus, but they don’t make up for the fact that the actual value of any given vibration is offset by the material choice.
The customer warranty is also a year long, which is a great sign. This is also reassuring when there are no real complaints about the product among existing customers – especially since this eliminates common problems like battery-motor connections.
Overall, this is a great product if you’re just looking to try out your first vibrating foam roller. The firmness isn’t plastic-grade, but that’s not the end of the world if you’re already used to using a non-firm foam roller. It reduces the effectiveness but makes the experience easier and comes at a great price point, with reliable function.
6. Emerge VIBR Vibration Foam Roller
The Emerge Vibr roller is a good example of the white-box product design we discussed with NextRoller. Of course, this one comes with a horrendous neon green design (unless garish is your style) and a very cliched fitness-y, trendy name to-boot.
This product isn’t as cheap as the FitIndex product, but it also has less speed options and a shorter battery life. We prefer the molded plastic exterior to the high-density foam, but with the additional cost and the unnecessary texturing, we think this product struggles to differentiate itself.
The best way to look at this particular product is as a cheaper version of the NextRoller, with most of the same functionality but at a much lower cost. This is great for Emerge’s Vibr roller, as it clearly wins out on the value while providing a comparable experience.
Occasionally, this product will run into the same problems that we’ve seen with foam rollers throughout, of burnout and poor performance despite full charge. These are far less common in this product, despite the reduced cost, which makes for a great alternative to the more expensive, less reliable NextRoller product.
Do Vibrating Foam Rollers Really Work?
Yes, they do.
Foam rollers are an interesting tool to perform trigger point style release on yourself, which can reduce tightness and discomfort in the muscles and joints. You can also perform active-release therapy on yourself using a foam roller.
Both of these techniques are improved by the addition of the vibration, which reduces sensations of pain, allowing you to relax into the position more effectively. On top of this, the movement improves pliability in muscles and reduces excessive neural tightness and tone in the muscles.
The vibrations also simulate palpations, a massage technique that applies and reduces pressure rapidly. This is an effective therapy technique for improving muscular health and flexibility.
Is a Vibrating Foam Roller Better Than a Regular One?
The addition of vibrations is an important part of the value of these products. Normal foam rollers are cheap and relatively effective, but the vibrations do add significant benefits. As mentioned above, the addition of vibrations makes the foam roller better at its primary job.
Vibrations Decrease Pain and Discomfort
First, they decrease the sensation of pain, stiffness, and soreness that you would run into with a regular foam roller. This is the result of rapid vibrations – something that scales with the intensity of the vibration settings.
This means that the whole process is less painful while providing the same key benefits as a traditional foam roller. If you’re trying to improve your muscle quality and joint health, regularity is key and reducing discomfort is a great way to improve your foam rolling habits.
Vibrations for Trigger Points
The vibrations also produce better relaxation in the muscles themselves and are closely related to time-honored massage techniques like palpations. These techniques are great for trigger point relief, as well as traditional mobility.
Vibrations help reduce local neural over-activity associated with tight, painful, or inhibited muscle movement. This is an important aspect of the foam rolling process since stretching and flexibility are often neural problems, not related to the length of the muscle itself.
Neuromuscular tension builds up in “trigger points” and vibrating foam rollers provide a way of combatting this sensitivity/tightness. Tenderness and soreness are reduced by vibrations while the actual movement of tissues is associated with better muscular pliability, making them even more effective at providing relief and mobility gains.
Getting the Most from Your Vibration Foam Roller
You might be surprised: using a foam roller is not as easy as just rolling around on it. It’s a recovery technique that requires time and practice and the use of the correct methods and techniques.
The use of a vibrating foam roller includes all of the normal methods you might need to practice, as well as some specific to the use of a vibrating model. We’re going to provide you with the key information on how to get the most out of these products and achieve the best results.
1. Relax into Stretch
The point of a good stretch or foam roll is to relax into the positions and improve your body’s familiarity with them in a controlled, relaxed manner.
Relaxing into the stretch is about controlling your breathing and reducing tension in the muscles you’re trying to roll. If you’re very tense during the roll, you’re going to see minimal results as you’re only reinforcing the neural activity problem associated with trigger points and overall muscle stiffness.
You should actively try to reduce tension in the muscle you’re rolling by relaxing it and allowing it to weigh into the roller. The point is to let it sink in and this may be uncomfortable, but the entire point of foam rolling is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable!
2. Dig In
As you relax, you need to let the foam roller deeply penetrate the muscle belly. There’s no point using a foam roller at all if you’re just going to run it over your skin. It needs to move the entire muscle and should feel like it’s making serious movements under the skin.
Allowing the foam roller to dig or sink into the muscle is key. Again, this is not a comfortable thing to do and it will feel painful if you don’t perform enough mobility or rolling work. This will get better over time if you do your foam rolling correctly.
Relaxing helps this stage, but it’s going to be important to find the spots where it feels tender and allow the foam roller to sink into you. Even holding this position, without movement, will provide benefits. Once you’re settled in, after 15-30 seconds, you can begin rolling.
3. Joint Range During The Dig
The closer you can get your foam rolling and recovery work to professional-level massage and physiotherapy, the better. This is why we recommend using a foam roller – and a vibrating foam roller, specifically – to simulate active release therapy.
This is a simple process: find a tender spot and relax into it, allowing the roller to dig in for 15-30 seconds. Actively relieve tension as much as possible. Now move the joint to which that muscle is attached through as much range of motion as possible.
For example, placing the foam roller in the quadriceps, you’d bend the knee and squeeze the hamstring at the end before slowly allowing the leg to return to straight. This moves the joint through the whole range and ensuring that the foam roller provides specific, movement-relevant release.
This is an excellent way of working through mobility challenges in stubborn areas like the quads, glutes, and calves.
4. Vibration Settings
Using the vibration settings that are appropriate to your chosen position and muscle group is key to getting the most from your vibrating foam roller. If it vibrates, you need to use that to your advantage and tailor it to what you need.
Lower vibration settings are necessary for smaller muscles or areas of increased connective tissue build-up. A high vibration setting can mask discomfort but it can also irritate tendons, such as the IT band or connective tissue around smaller muscles.
Reserve the serious horsepower for the big, meaty muscles of the quads and glutes. These muscles have larger, thicker muscle bellies and will respond well to the additional interference that vibrations provide.
Make sure to roll on the muscles, not the connective tissues, for best effects. Stay away from joints and towards bulging muscles where possible!
The vibrating foam roller has gained serious popularity among elite athletes, who have the largest recovery needs of anyone on the planet. These benefits are applicable to us all, and the vibrating foam roller is an interesting tool for getting the most from your body.
Our favorite product for getting these benefits is the Phenom vibrating foam roller, as it provides the most comprehensive, high-quality results. The design is ergonomic and well-finished with a reliable design and high-quality build.
However, if you feel like keeping your spending in the double digits, the cheaper options of the Emerge VIBR and FitIndex take our joint second place. These are much cheaper, and the former offers a firm alternative at a great price, while the latter provides a medium-firmness option at an amazing price.
Get your hands on one of these vibrating foam rollers no matter your budget, and your body will thank you for it. This is a small investment in a big step up in your recovery and feelings of preparedness for your next session!