I tested three of the best vibrating foam rollers currently available: The Therabody WaveRoller, the Hyperice Vyper, and the Sidekick Flare. Here is what I found after reviewing all three, and which one I suggest you buy.
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Hyperice vs Therabody vs Sidekick: Video review
Why buy a vibrating foam roller?
Before we can answer which vibrating foam roller is best, the first question you may need to consider is if they are even worth it? Especially when considering that each costs $100+ more than a traditional foam roller.
For me, it comes down to one thing – effectiveness.
I have found the additional vibration (and in some cases heat) definitely makes my time spent with the foam roller more effective. It helps me warm-up faster, and it seems to do a better job at breaking up muscle adhesions and improving mobility.
Maybe most importantly, I feel it helps trick your brain when working through and staying on painful spots.
Most people (and most programs) do not use the foam roller effectively. To get the most benefit, instead of rolling over painful spots, you actually hang out directly on them for usually a minute or longer. Or really until you feel your muscle finally relax and let go of the tension in that area.
This can be pretty painful to do, especially for those new to foam rolling. However, with the added vibration, I found that my brain seems sort of tricked into not creating as many of those pain signals. This has made the whole process a lot easier to talk myself into doing regularly than when I was using a more traditional foam roller.
So while vibrating foam rollers do indeed cost quite a bit more, they can be definitely worth it if it helps you build a better habit of foam rolling regularly. While cheaper, a traditional foam roller will do you no good if it is not being used.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being most firm:
- Therabody: 4
- Hyperice: 7
- Sidekick: 9
The first thing to consider between vibrating foam rollers is how firm they are. A softer foam roller, while more comfortable, tends to provide fewer results. On the other hand, a very firm foam roller may be more effective but too painful for your current level of tolerance.
Out of these three, the Therabody WaveRoller is definitely the softest and most beginner-friendly. It has a very squishy textured surface which could be a good option for someone who is just starting. However, it might not be the best long-term option to continue getting results (especially in areas like your calves, hamstrings, and hips).
The Hyperice Vyper and Sidekick Flare are both quite a bit firmer but not over the top. Though the Sidekick Flare does dig in a little deeper than the Vyper due to having a smaller surface area
Additionally what is pretty nice about the Sidekick Flare is that the entire sleeve can come off and be replaced by a spiky surface (which is included). This extra cover is not for the faint of heart but can really be helpful for those more accustomed to foam rolling.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 allowing for the strongest vibration:
- Therabody: 7
- Hyperice: 10
- Sidekick: 7
The Therabody Waveroller has five available vibration levels. The two lowest are extremely low, so the top three levels are probably what you will be using the most. The Sidekick Flare has a similar vibration range to the Waveroller with three settings to choose from (although when connected to the app, it allows you to control the vibration from a scale of 1-100).
The Hyperice Viper packs a much stronger punch in terms of vibration with its lowest of the three settings being close to the others’ highest setting, and the Vyper’s highest setting is significantly more than that.
I typically only use the first two settings of the Hyperice Vyper, but I have found some areas (like my hips) where the extra power does come in handy.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 generating a high amount of heat:
- Therabody: 0
- Hyperice: 0
- Sidekick: 3
One unique function of the Sidekick Flare is that it can also provide heat, though the heat function on the Flare is far from great. It can take several minutes before you feel anything and is less effective when the battery is not fully charged. Even at its best, it is unfortunately not enough heat to make a significant difference.
Connected app and bluetooth
On a scale of 1-10, 10 providing the best connected app experience
- Therabody: 3
- Hyperice: 5
- Sidekick: 7
Each of these foam rollers can also connect via Bluetooth to their own app (the Hyperice Vyper 2.0 that I have actually does not, but the newer Viper 3.0 does).
Therabody has a few different foam rolling sessions which you can connect to, but it is a pretty limited selection. All of these sessions also move fairly quickly from one body part to another, which doesn’t allow for more effective methods that were mentioned earlier.
The Hyperice app offers a few more options for foam rolling. The sessions here are also a little longer and provide a bit more time focusing on individual muscle groups.
The Sidekick app has more of the same, but with two additional features that I found very useful: Live Control and Custom Programs.
Live Control allows you to control the vibration intensity as well as turn on and off the heat via the app. Here you can fine-tune the vibration on a scale from 1-100 instead of the regular three settings. Live Control also allows you to set the time you want to foam roll for, which is great since it can be hard to spend enough time on each area without a countdown.
Custom Programs allow you to create a foam rolling session with various time intervals where the intensity of the vibration can also be set to automatically change. I love this feature because, for me, I have found it most effective to start rolling out each area on the highest vibration before settling in at a lower vibration. With a Custom Program, I’ve been able to set up the exact routine I like and follow along without any additional adjustments.
Price and which should you buy?
In this case, there is no one-size-fits-all.
If you are very sensitive to foam rolling and want to start with something a bit softer, then you might want to consider starting with the Therabody WaveRoller.
If you are ready for a more firm (and effective) foam roller, then the Hyperice Vyper or Sidekick Flare will probably be better options. The Vyper is the best option if you want the most powerful vibration. The Sidekick Flare is best if you want more customization with programmable settings and an alternative spiky surface sleeve which allows you to dig deeper into your muscle tissue.
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