One of the best tools to assist with post-workout recovery is a foam roller. Now, with smart versions, you can track your recovery activity and connect to your mobile phone and even some smartwatches to personalize your experience and see how your recovery is progressing!
With a foam roller, there’s no need to wait for an appointment with your massage therapist or pay exorbitant fees to a chiropractor. Set aside a good 15 minutes following your warm-down after a workout, and let the foam roller dig into the sore muscles to provide you instant relief.
This smart foam roller buying guide breaks down all the different factors you should consider when deciding whether the Theragun wave roller, a Hyperice Vyper, and other offerings such as URBNFit or JAXJOX are right for you.
The best vibrating smart foam rollers we’ve tested are all excellent in their own right, but they’re not one size fits all.
From big fitness/ wellness tech brands such as Theragun, Vyper, and JAXJOX to affordable brands like Vulken sports and TriggerPoint, dozens of companies have foam rollers that connect via Bluetooth, have helpful apps, offer different intensity zones, different RPMs for pulse vibrations, and more to your exercise recovery routine.
Newer models like the Theragun wave roller and Hyperice Vyper 2.0 push the capabilities even further.
Although features and designs vary, a good smart foam roller can help you recover from sore muscles following a strenuous workout. Plus, these rollers help guide you towards an injury-free workout regimen moving forward.
We believe that getting your muscles and body to recover should not be expensive.
So whether you’re on a budget, have specific fitness goals, want to focus on specific muscle groups, or want to be more flexible and injury-free, here’s our smart foam roller buying guide to help you determine which foam roller you should get.
- 1 Smart foam roller buying guide: quick tips
- 2 Do foam rollers really work? Here’s what the science says
- 3 Why use a vibrating foam roller?
- 4 Theragun Smart Foam Roller
- 5 Theragun Wave Duo and LifePro 4 Speed Massage Ball
- 6 Vyper 2.0 Smart Foam roller
- 7 Epitomie Fitness VIBRA Foam roller offers Value for Money
- 8 Vibrating foam rollers pricing
Smart foam roller buying guide: quick tips
- Don’t buy a smart foam roller without confirming that it works with your smartphone brand and model and its Bluetooth connection.
- Pick a smart foam roller with higher RPM if you like deep tissue massage. When applied to large muscle groups such as your back and quads, higher RPM pulses help speed recovery.
- Inspect the textual qualities of the smart foam rollers, including their density, surface texture (knobs or smooth surface), and shape and size. Foam balls, for example, allow precise targeting and pressure control and are well suited for curved areas of the body, such as the lumbar area.
- Pay attention to the length of the foam roller if you are looking for something that you can easily carry with you. Portability is important, especially for users who travel a lot.
- Check the rated battery life on the connected smart foam roller. Ideally, you would want a smart foam roller to provide you enough juice for a week before you need to re-charge it again.
- Examine the number and type of vibration levels being offered on the device. Varying pulse durations and adjustable intensities help you easily use it across more muscle groups. IT band may require a different treatment than your gluteus medius and minimus muscles (Hip muscles)—some foam rollers offer up to 5 different levels of vibration intensities.
- Pay attention to the warranty and ease of service before you buy a smart foam roller. Since this line of devices is fairly new, you want a reliable, safe, comfortable, easy-to-use device and durable roller.
- Lastly, check if the foam roller is BPA-free. If you are buying an affordable no-name brand, it’s important to verify that the materials used in the foam roller are not harmful.
Do foam rollers really work? Here’s what the science says
Foam rollers are essentially designed for self-myofascial release, a fancy term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points.
Not only are these good self-massage options, but having a foam roller allows you to use it immediately following your intense workout or tackle lactic acid build-up in your muscles.
In the publication, ‘Best Practice Guide to Conservative management of patellofemoral pain’ in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Barton and Lack show the effectiveness of foam rollers in pain-associated IT band syndrome. Both cyclists and runners tend to accumulate stress on the IT band, requiring periodic myofascial release.
The use of foam rollers, tennis, and golf balls to release tight structures for muscle tissue around the pelvis can increase mobility, lengthening of tight muscle and myofascial structure according to the study ‘Treatment of the Sportsman’s groin.’
Other studies have also shown that Foam rollers help increase flexibility, and with increased flexibility, you perform better.
A great resource for users looking to understand recovery techniques is the book “Good to Go: What the athlete in all of us can learn from the strange science of recovery” by Christie Aschwanden.
This book walks you through a science-based explanation of the different forms of recovery. It covers foam rolling as well as Theragun in some detail.
Why use a vibrating foam roller?
Smart foam rollers are not that different from traditional foam rollers regarding the materials used in making them.
Where they differ is that this new generation of smart foam rollers provides users with advantages, including:
- Vibration therapy with control of vibration intensity.
- Bluetooth connectivity and companion apps to change the vibration frequencies.
- New guided rolling techniques to expedite your recovery related to a muscle group.
Foam rolling with vibration therapy works great for post-exercise recovery of large muscle groups.
It helps release stress in your Trapezoids, lower back, relieves hamstring tightness, and mitigates knee pain.
Vibration therapy may also work at the prevention and management of DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness)
Based on the research, vibration therapy increases proprioceptive neuro-muscular function, increased muscle strength and potential hormonal responses, leading to pain reduction and mood improvement, potentially improving lymphatic drainage.
In a study published this year, researchers compared the performance between traditional foam rolling and vibration foam rolling, particularly on how effective these techniques are when it comes to a large muscle group, your quadriceps.
The findings of this study suggest that VFR (vibration foam rolling) might be a more efficient approach to maximize performance in sports with flexibility demands.
Lastly, let’s hear it from Tom Brady on his popular TB20 Method. Tom Brady’s book about his TB20 method is all about pliability training. Unless you have money to spend on a specially trained professional to rub you regularly, he recommends getting vibrating foam rollers and spheres so you can do it yourself at home.
If it works for one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks, the chances are that the vibrating smart foam rollers will be a good investment for you.
Now that we have addressed the desired qualities of a good smart foam roller and explored researched publications on foam rolling and vibration foam rolling, let’s look at some of the best smart foam rollers available out there.
Theragun Smart Foam Roller
The Theragun smart foam roller, designed for full-body use, is made out of hypoallergenic EVA high-density foam and can address muscle soreness following your intense workout quite effectively.
Plus, it offers a companion app that works on iOS and Android and allows users to control the five different speed settings.
- MAXIMIZES SURFACE AREA FOR A FULL-BODY ROLL - releases tension more generally across the body,...
- 5 CUSTOMIZED VIBRATION SETTINGS - 5 powerful vibration frequencies can be adjusted to your comfort...
This unit comes with a wired charger. If you are looking for a wireless charger, wireless charging is enabled, but you need to separately purchase the multi-device wireless charger.
Battery life on the Theragun smart foam roller is around 3 hours (180 minutes). Still, experience suggests that if you use it in a high-intensity setting, be prepared for lower battery life.
That being said, for most users, three hours is a good amount of battery life. If you use it 20 – 25 minutes following your workout, you are getting more than 5 days worth of battery juice before requiring to charge it again.
The accompanying app does take some getting used to on the Theragun smart foam roller. The app experience isn’t the easiest to navigate and understand, and we wish it were designed better.
The irregular wave-shaped grooves covering the Wave Roller’s surface provide the texture and traction needed to apply pressure across areas of the body with varying surface areas.
So whether you’re digging deep into your hip or rolling out your low back, you’re getting the relief you need.
The Theragun foam roller weighs about 3.3 lbs, making it a little on the heavy side.
If you are looking for something more compact, check out the Theragun Wave duo.
Theragun Wave Duo and LifePro 4 Speed Massage Ball
This is built out of the same material as its larger counterpart but weighs only 2 lbs and still has the same 5 intensity level settings.
- SCIENTIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR BACK AND NECK - curves around spine to safely target muscles on either...
- 5 CUSTOMIZED VIBRATION SETTINGS - adjust to your comfort level to help release soreness, reduce...
The smaller dimensions on the Theragun Duo (7 inches x 3.9 inches) also make it very portable.
If you are worried about the battery life, the Theragun Duo provides about 3:20 hours (200 minutes) of battery life–20 minutes more when compared with the Theragun full-body smart roller.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, check out the LifePro 4.
It’s similar to the Theragun Duo and is a less expensive speed vibrating massage ball.
- FASTER RECOVERY: Premium soft foam roller's ideology provides intensely deep myofascial release and...
- REDUCE PAIN AND SORENESS: Designed with high and firm nodules, contour design, and ridged silicone...
The LifePro massage ball offers four vibration intensity levels and is a good aid for some deep tissue trigger point therapy.
Although this smart foam roller claims a 2 – 4 hour battery, you can realistically expect about two and half hours to three hours (150-180 minutes) of battery life based on your usage.
The Lifepro 4 speed vibrating massage ball also has these massage dots on the surface that help in getting deep into your muscles. The rubberized exterior is hard enough to get the job done but soft enough to be comfortable.
This smart foam roller does wonders for your rhomboids and trapezius and the overall shoulder muscles area on your back, especially if you lift weights.
Another product to check if you are interested in a compact vibrating foam roller is the VIBE rollers Hex Pro.
At 2.5 lbs, the VIBE Hex Pro also uses two vibrating spheres to provide deep myofascial release.
- SECRET TOOL TO REDUCE PAIN & SORENESS: Vibe Rollers Hex Pro's two massage balls provides an...
- 4 INTENSITY LEVELS & LONG-LASTING BATTERY – This vibrating foam roller has 4 vibration levels to...
This compact vibrating foam roller offers four different vibration levels.
The main concern that we have with the VIBE is its battery life. This roller claims to have a battery life of just 2 hours (120 minutes) between charges.
Vyper 2.0 Smart Foam roller
Another vibrating foam roller with impressive power for the size, the Vyper 2.0, weighs about 3 lbs.
The vibrations on its highest level (level 3) are pretty strong and might be a tad too noisy if you live in a small apartment. Placing a yoga mat below or using it on a carpeted floor or a rug help to minimize some of its noise.
Unlike the Theragun smart foam roller, this one only has 3 different intensity settings to choose from.
If you are a Peloton biker or an outdoor cyclist and have extremely tight quads, hamstrings, and calves, the Vyper 2.0 definitely helps with increasing the range of motion.
- Take foam rolling to the next level - increase flexibility, circulation, and reduce muscle soreness
- Three vibration settings, for a custom experience tailored to your recovery and warmup needs
The intensity levels on the Vyper 2.0 felt the strongest. If you have the older model Vyper 1.0, the intensity levels on this latest product iteration feel lower than the 2.0.
If you love deep tissue myofascial release, this product is for you.
However, if you want more control over the vibration intensity, Theragun’s 5 level intensity settings offer you greater control.
Unfortunately, there are some customer complaints with this model around its battery and charging. Some users discover that their unit’s battery quits charging after a few months.
If you consider this model, please make sure to check its warranty description and length before you purchase it.
Epitomie Fitness VIBRA Foam roller offers Value for Money
The VIBRA vibrating foam roller from Epitomie Fitness offers a good bang for the buck. For users who like protruding knobs on the foam roller surface to do trigger point work, this foam roller offers it.
The high-density EVA with the honeycomb grid is perfect for trigger point therapy for those hard-to-work muscles. This roller arrives pre-charged, so once you open it from the packaging, you can try it out immediately!
- ROLL OUT BETTER THAN EVER – Warm up and recover like never before with the next-generation foam...
- INCREDIBLE ENGINE – Vigorous workouts require vigorous rehabilitation. Epitomie Fitness’s...
The four different intensity levels on the VIBRA foam roller give you more control.
Plus, it’s capable of up to 3600 RPM! This foam roller goes from zero to top speed in no time, getting deep into those tired muscles.
Although the product literature says 5 intensity settings, the last one is a combo of the four vibration levels. The fifth option runs through each speed for about 3 seconds, from the lowest to highest speed in order.
This is a full-size vibrating foam roller (12.5 inches x 5.5 inches in diameter), so portability is an issue, although this foam roller comes with its own case, and you can easily strap it up like a backpack.
The advanced LED control panel on the VIBRA foam roller lets you know exactly when to charge up and what level you’re on!
The battery life on the VIBRA is pretty decent at 4 hours (240 minutes.) You can easily use it for a whole week, 20 min a day, without running out of battery juice.
One thing we love about the VIBRA is its lifetime manufacturer’s warranty. If you have issues with the product, the company replaces it at no cost. AND the customer support seems pretty decent.
An accompanying one-hour tutorial features celebrity trainer Amanda Edell who provides users with information about using this foam roller for full-body foam rolling.
The downside is that this foam roller does not come with an app. You get directions via a website that shows you how to use this product.
Vibrating foam rollers pricing
Except for budget devices from no-name brands, most vibrating smart foam rollers cost between $75 for less powerful full-body foam rollers to all the way up to $200 for smart vibrating foam rollers with five different intensity levels, Bluetooth connectivity, and companion apps or websites.
Decide what combination of form and function works best for your body and your budget.
We hope you found this article useful in understanding the benefits of vibrating foam rollers for your recovery and the key qualities to look for when considering a smart foam roller.
Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API