6 Foam Roller Substitutes That Work!

A lot of athletes including runners tend to use foam rollers to relieve pain and massage sore muscles. Using them on their lower backs, thighs, and other places, foam rollers have become a favorite of many.

However, if you don’t have one at the moment, we might be able to help you out. We’ll suggest some of our top foam roller substitutes that you can use until you manage to grab one.

Let’s find out how you can use regular, everyday objects to replace a foam roller.

The 6 Best Foam Roller Substitutes

1. Tennis Ball

2. Lacrosse Ball

3. Rolling Pin

4. Water Bottle

5. PVC Pipe

6. Softball or Baseball

Top Choice: Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls

Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls for Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Therapy, Muscle Knots, and Yoga Therapy. Set of 2 Firm Balls (Blue and Red)
  • IMMEDIATE BENEFITS - Self myofascial release eliminates muscle knots and tension. Trigger point therapy massage lacrosse balls relieve sore and tight muscles to rejuvenate and revitalize all areas of the body.

Our Top 6 Foam Roller Substitutes

Foam rolling isn’t only a method to relieve muscle pain, but also a way to exercise your muscles. Not to mention that a lot of runners and cyclists use it during recovery.

However, depending on foam rollers alone can make you miss out on many other alternatives that can give you outstanding results. Let’s take a look at our 5 favorite foam roller substitutes and how they can be beneficial to you.

1. A Tennis Ball

The most common foam roller alternative is a tennis ball. It can allow you much more in terms of pain relief than a foam roller might have access to.

You can use it on sensitive areas like your lower back, but you should be careful not to position it against the middle of your spine.

Instead, you should use it on the sides of your back. Simply, put it on the ground and lie upon it. Then, in slow motion, circle over it, pausing and taking a breath or two on regular intervals.

You can also use it against other areas like your hips and shoulder blades.

WILSON US Open Tennis Balls - Regular Duty, Single Can (3 Balls)
  • Wilson is the Official Ball of the US Open and the Australian Open Grand Slam Championships
  • Regular duty ideal for longer play on clay or indoor courts
  • Exclusive Tex Tech Industries felt from Wilson provides premium performance and long lasting durability

2. A Lacrosse Ball

A bit softer than a tennis ball, a lacrosse ball is another great alternative to a foam roller as well. It has many plus points over a tennis ball.

For instance, we like that it’s sturdy but also a bit on the squishy side. This way, it can be good enough to use with more areas of your body.

You can circle it against your neck, back, calves, or basically, anywhere you feel sore.

Ultimately, if you have more than one ball at your disposal, you can use them all at once to relieve multiple muscles.

Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls for Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Therapy, Muscle Knots, and Yoga Therapy. Set of 2 Firm Balls (Blue and Red)
  • IMMEDIATE BENEFITS - Self myofascial release eliminates muscle knots and tension. Trigger point therapy massage lacrosse balls relieve sore and tight muscles to rejuvenate and revitalize all areas of the body.
  • EASY TO USE - Simply lean on the massage ball and use your own body weight and gravity to relieve muscle knots and tension.
  • MASSAGE ANYWHERE - Perfect for use while sitting on any chair, laying in bed, on the floor, or on a yoga mat. Use them at home, at the office, or at the gym. Small, portable and easy to bring along on any trip.

3. A Rolling Pin

Lying upon a rolling pin might not be convenient for some body-parts, like your back or neck, but, it can be amazing for shins and calves.

Because there’s no softness to it, a rolling pin should do a wonderful job of getting rid of the knots in those areas. It’s easy to handle and move against your legs until the pain is gone.

Also, you can sit down while someone else rolls it against the sore spots on your neck or shoulders.

Farberware Classic Wood Rolling Pin, 17.75-Inch, Natural
  • DURABLE: made from moisture-resistant hardwood
  • COMFORT GRIP: handles are designed to provide maximum comfort and control while using
  • SMOOTH OPERATION: rust-proof nylon bearings provide a superior rolling experience

4. A Water Bottle

Another great idea that’s been tried by a lot of athletes is using a water bottle instead of a foam roller. Not only is it simple and always available in your household, but you can also fill it with cold water to relieve pain faster.

All you have to do is put it in the freezer for a while, wrap it in a towel, then use it anywhere you feel sore.

A water bottle can be perfect to massage your shins, calves, lower back, neck, and shoulders.

Not to mention that a lot of sports gear companies have come up with products that combine a water bottle and a foam roller. If you want a higher level of comfort and efficiency, you might want to take a look at one of those.

Vmini Water Bottle with New Wide Handle Straw Lid, Wide Mouth Vacuum Insulated 18/8 Stainless Steel, 32 oz, Gradient Mint + Pink + Purple
  • 【Vacuum Insulated】 With double-walled vacuum insulation, Vmini Water Bottle (wide mouth) can keep beverages cold for 24 hours, and hot for 8 hours. Perfect for outdoors activities, like camping, driving, beach and so on.
  • 【18/8 Stainless Steel】 Vmini Water Bottle (wide mouth) is made from premium high grade 18/8 stainless steel, which is fully resistant to oxidation and corrosion. More durable, and suitable for adults and children.
  • 【Product Feature】 32oz ( 946ml ), frosted matte powder coat with various colors. Comes with 1 straw lid, 2 straws and 1 straw brush. Vmini Water Bottle has more sizes, colors, and various accessories.

5. A PVC Pipe

Pipes are also nice substitutes for foam rollers. Just like rolling pins, they’re solid enough to use them on your shins, back, shoulders, and neck.

Besides, if you don’t have any spare pipes around the house or in your garage, you can purchase one at the nearest hardware store. Not only should you find multiple sizes to match your needs, but they’re also inexpensive options.

In addition, PVC is a well-known durable material. Therefore, this pipe should last you a while without having to look for a replacement.

Aim for a pipe that’s about 3 or 4 inches in length if you’re not sure which size to get. It should work fine anywhere you want.

If a PVC pipe is too firm for your liking, you can easily turn it into your own version of a foam roller. Just grab some foam, duct tape, and it should be ready in a few minutes.

  • White pipe used in sanitary drain, waste, and vent (DWV), sewer and storm drainage applications.
  • Not intended for pressure use
  • For use where systems will not exceed 140 deg F

6. A Softball or Baseball

These might be even better than a foam roller when used under your calves and glutes. Also, because they aren’t as hard as tennis balls, many people prefer softballs or baseballs.

They can target the calf muscles more accurately than foam rollers, too. This is because they’re smaller in size and can sink almost anywhere that a foam roller couldn’t.

All you have to do is position your ball underneath the sore spot on your calf. Then, slowly lie upon it, pressing it against the tightness that you want to relieve.

Keep circling it underneath that spot gently until the pain is over. However, you must be careful if you feel any sharp pain. If that happens, you must stop, or else you might hurt yourself even further.

Of course, this applies when using any object that we’ve mentioned above, a foam roller included.

Franklin Sports Official Size Softballs - 12" Softballs - Fastpitch Tournament Softballs - Great for Practice + Training - Official Size + Weight - 1 Pack
  • OFFICIAL SIZE & WEIGHT : These balls are constructed at official 12" size and weight so you can practice exactly how you play
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: These softballs are made with a solid pu core interior with a durable synthetic syntex cover so you can use them season after season
  • FLAT SEAMS: The lay-flat seams on the balls minimize air-friction helping the ball achieve a more accurate ball flight

The Bottom Line

After a long run, you might face unwanted tightness in your legs, shoulders, back, or neck. A nice way to get rid of this soreness is by using a foam roller.

However, for people who don’t have one yet or can’t afford it, using a foam roller substitute can be their plan B.

Whether you choose a baseball, a rolling pin, or a water bottle, just make sure that you do it right. This means, using each object carefully where it’s most suitable, and watching for signs of discomfort.

This should keep you from accidentally hurting yourself in the process.


Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Me.

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API