The 5 Best Self Massage Tools for Muscle Recovery

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One of the most vital aspects of flexibility training is using self massage tools

Everyone looks forward to a soothing massage from a trained therapist, in a relaxing environment, working on your kinks; and such dreams of a perfect massage are usually incomplete without the thought of sweet oil scents, a cozy robe, and capable hands digging into your body parts that are most resistant to release knots.

However, self massage therapy can provide you with even greater benefits, as self massage tools are more cost efficient, and can be done regularly in your own home!

Of all the self massage tools, I have tried, the Roll Recovery R8 stands alone as the absolute best to me!  This device has been incredible for helping my legs recover, and improving their function overall, I highly recommend you look at getting one yourself!

People hardly realize how easy it is to give themselves a massage that will stimulate muscle recovery with any of the various self massage tools on the market, and how beneficial consistently doing this can be.

The results of one study on the effect of massage therapy on blood pressure of women with pre-hypertension revealed that, massage therapy was safe, applicable, effective and a cost-effective intervention in controlling the blood pressure of pre-hypertension women; and it can be used safely in health care centers and even at home.

This position was further confirmed by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). According to the AMTA, “massage therapy can improve the health and wellness of people through its effects on the mental, physical and social well-being of an individual”.

The World Health Organization states that,

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being; and not merely the absence of a disease or infirmity”

Based on this statement made by the WHO, it makes sense to say therapy can greatly improve the health of people, due to its numerous benefits.

Keep reading below to see my individual product reviews and learn more about the best self massage tools!

Why Do You Need to Use Self Massage Tools?

Basically, self massage is a massage carried out by yourself with any one of the various self massage tools; and it is especially useful for stimulating muscles before training, relieving tension in muscles directly after training, and when you are at home.

Self massage is a great way to enjoy the benefits of massage when there is no one to give you a full massage, or if consistently going to a massage therapist is too expensive for you.

This provides you with the chance to enjoy the benefits of regular massage therapy, without having to get a professional to do it.

There are several health benefits of using the self massage tools for massage therapy, including

  • Helps to Increase Blood Flow and Oxygen Uptake to Your Tissues
  • Reduces Your Blood Pressure
  • Helps to Relax Muscles and Release Tension
  • Improves and Strengthens Your Immune System
  • Increases Flexibility
  • Alleviates Headaches
  • Releases Endorphins for Natural Pain Relief and Relieving Depression
  • Helps to Stimulate the Energy Pathways of Your Body Which Prevent or Correct Various Health Issues

Tips for Using Self Massage Tools Effectively

The following tips will help you get the best results from your self-massage.

Relax and Be Comfortable

While massaging yourself, you need to relax and make yourself comfortable. If you are tense, it will not be effective.

For each muscle you are going to massage, find a position where the muscle is relaxed before you go to massage it, you do not want your muscles to be contracted in any way while doing this.

Use a Mechanically Advantaged Position

Find the most mechanically advantaged position to massage your muscles. As I will discuss below, this is why I love the Roll Recovery R8.  Having proper leverage is crucial to being able to deeply massage your muscles.

Rolling over a foam roller will allow you to able to exert more pressure easily as well, and it is also less hard on the thumbs and hands than some variations.

Use a Balm or Massage Lotion Not Oil

Rather than using an oil, make use of a massage balm or a massage lotion since oil is usually more difficult to wipe off at the end of the massage.

Stretch Before Self Massage Tool Use

One of the best ways to lengthen your muscles is by stretching. Simply hold static stretches for 30 seconds to lengthen each muscle group. Follow this static stretching directly with self massage.  The combination is excellent for your muscles.   Better yet, perform 30 to 45 minutes of yoga, then go in to your self massage routine.

Focus on Trigger Points

While massaging your body, focus on trigger points; they are the “knots” in the muscle tissue, which feel harder and more tender than your normal muscles. When you massage these areas, it will drastically reduce pain you have when moving.

Treat Your Muscles While They Are Warm

Warm muscles usually loosen up better than cold muscles. Self massage directly after training is an excellent way to decrease muscle soreness for your next training session!

In My Opinion – The Best Self Massage Tools

There are many different self massage tools that can help you release those tight and sore areas of your body.

With the use of self massage tools, you will be able to achieve the necessary pressure on your body, for a longer period; when compared to massage done with your hands alone. Take a look at some of the best self-massage tools on the market!

Roll Recovery R8

The roll recovery is by far the most advanced self massage tool I have found, being especially effective at rolling out the muscles in your lower body.

The Roll Recovery R8 allows you to easily have a mechanically advantaged position over the muscle which you are looking to roll out, and the design of the roller-blade like wheels are excellent at targeting trigger points.

Benefits of the Roll Recovery R8

  • There is no better self massage tool than the Roll Recovery R8 for your lower body, as you can easily dig into tight and stiff spots throughout your legs with the easy to use design.
  • The Roll Recovery R8 is extremely portable, and can easily travel in your gym bag. My Roll Recovery R8 has been especially while traveling around Europe for games this season.  When you are flying constantly to different countries for games, recovery is crucial.   The Roll Recovery R8 goes with me everywhere, and helps prime my legs for each game!
  • The Roll Recovery R8 can target the muscles of your shin and ankle like no other. I first discovered this product when recovering from a serious ankle injury, and it was pivotal in my ability to listen the muscles of my calf, ankle, and shin while rehabbing.  No other self massage tool could have this impact, and for anyone with ankle issues this tool is a must!
  • The Roll Recovery R8 makes self massage easier with its design, and you are more likely to need to take pressure off, than add it. The device is easy to control pressure with, and you will be able to find the same effectiveness as a massage from a professional massage therapist!

The Still Point Inducer

The Still Point Inducer is a great tool for self-massage that can help to release tight neck, and tension headaches. It can also help you to get centered and unwind.

To use the Still Point, lay on your back while placing the Still Point under your neck at the base of your skull, lining your cervical spine in the crease between the two protrusions.

You must lay there for a period of five minutes and relax; it is even better when you put a foam roller under your knees in order to keep them bent!  This will help your spine to be more relaxed overall

Benefits of the Still Point Inducer

  • A small study that was carried out found that the combination of the Still Point Inducer with soothing music provided pain relief that is equivalent to a 10-minute massage.
  • The Still Point Inducer is simple to use at home for self-massage.
  • According to physical therapist Mariann Sisco, patients find it helpful in preventing migraines, and it helps to improve sleep quality.

The Theracane

Most times when the massage therapist presses their thumb or elbow into a specific point and hold it until it releases the tension, it gives you huge relief despite the fact that it is painful.  The Theracane will help you get a deep tissue massage in this manner.

You will need to generate the pressure yourself to dig in, or likewise ease off when you want to.  The Theracane enables you to release tension in painful areas of your trapezius muscles, shoulders, glutes and the big erector muscles along your back.

Just make sure that you don’t ease off the pressure too much, otherwise your self massage won’t produce as big of results!

The Foam Roller

The foam roller is one of the most popular self-massage tools, and is used throughout the world.  It is very effective for the thighs, and especially the hamstrings, iliotibial band and quads.

If you have a sore back, it’s probably time you invested in a solid and durable back roller. A good back roller digs into your muscles to release tension and alleviate soreness, without causing any unnecessary pain. This means that it should have a few features designed especially for your back, such as a ridge for your spine to rest on during foam rolling sessions.

If you choose the right foam rollers and exercises, it is one of the best forms of self massage therapy!

The best foam rollers are ones which are durable, effective and versatile enough to match the needs of their user.

Consider getting a spiked roller if you have permanent knots in your lower back, but do also consider other types of foam rollers such as grid rollers which have distrodensity zones to accommodate different levels of intensity and different muscle groups.

The Benefits of the Foam Roller

Using the foam roller engages the fascia, which is a fibrous layer of the connective tissue which surrounds all the muscles of your body.  When there is no mobility, fibers of the fascia will be cross-linked and bind to muscles and nerves; which stiffen normal motion and leads to pain.

  • Foam rolling massage will lead to increased range of motion, and it will ensure that trigger points and scar tissue are broken up within the muscle and fascia. Overall, this leads to greater flexibility, normal motion, and normal function.
  • The foam roller aids post injury tissue mobility
  • By using the foam roller, you can increase the performance capability of your muscles. The more flexible your muscles are within a normal range of motion, the more power these muscles can produce.

Specific Foam Roller Exercises

If you have purchased yourself a foam roller already, it’s time to put it to good use. Here are 3 useful foam roller exercises to relieve soreness in your back.

To use, just lay your legs on it and proceed to roll up and down; you will feel it massage into your muscles and fascia.

You can choose a spot in your body that is the most tender, and stay there for about 30 seconds so that your nervous system can release that area.

However, when you stop at the most tender spot, you will feel the pain the most.

Warming Up

Before you begin any exercise, it is important to have yourself warmed up and ready. Why not try warming up with the help of a foam roller?

Unlike static stretching warm-ups which are boring, draining and just inefficient, foam roller warm-ups are challenging and effective because they are dynamic. Warming up is more than just a few basic stretches for your hamstrings and back.

They are very important, especially if you already suffer from back pain.

One innovative way to increase blood flow and relax your muscles with an added challenge of balancing, is to use a foam roller. You can stretch your hamstrings while standing on a foam roller, or do a few push-ups and crunches with your hands and back on the foam roller.

Cooling Down with a Foam Roller

Cooling down after an intense workout is arguably more important than warming up, as it drastically reduces the risk of post-workout injury.

Using a foam roller to facilitate movement and help you you’re your post-workout stretch can help to release permanently contracted knots in your muscles so that you can retain that large range of motion you need for workouts in future.

Proper warm-ups and cool-downs prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness and are very important if you already have a sore back.

Simple Neck and Back Exercises with a Foam Roller

Don’t neglect your back.

When trying to identify the source of muscle soreness, it is best to start from the neck and work down to the lower back. Start your foam rolling exercise by resting your head on your foam roller. Rotate your head from left to right for 2-3 minutes to stretch your neck muscles.

Now we can begin with the actual exercise.

One way to treat chronic back pain is to force your back muscles to contract and relax without engaging in any back-related activities. For example, you could do push-ups or plank on a foam roller, which requires balance and therefore places an adequate volume of stress on your upper back and shoulders without injuring them.

Place both your hands firmly on the foam roller while doing push-ups and be very sure not to let it roll or shift from its place throughout the exercise. As your hands are no longer on the flat surface of the floor, this demands a lot more from the muscles in your back and shoulders to maintain a fine balance.

Forcing all the muscles in your upper back and shoulders to work during push-ups is an effective way to release the knots and tension without exerting too much stress on these already-overworked muscles.

Be sure to take breaks in between to avoid over-exertion

How to Use Your Foam Roller

This should be rather self-explanatory. Foam rolling along the sore muscle group is the most direct and remains the most effective way of alleviating muscle soreness, particularly in the lower back.

However, it is important to ensure that you do not injure yourself by pressing against your spine, or by rolling over the same area for more than 3 minutes.

Start by rolling over the area slowly and increase the intensity only if you are comfortable with the pace of recovery.

The Stick

The Stick provides great benefits for athletes and non-athletes.  The Stick is used by athletes as a warm-up and cool-down tool, and it is used as a therapeutic device.  The stick rolls out muscles which provide myofascial release and trigger point therapy.  While using it, you can identify problem areas, and focus more on the hot spots.

Benefits of the Stick

  • It is used to break down trigger points, increase range of motion, and relieve pain.
  • The stick also helps to enhance the flexibility of your body, and accelerates the recovery process.
  • It is quite simple to use at home without any special equipment.

Concluding Thoughts – Best Self Massage Tools

Self massage tools are readily available for purchase online, and any one of them will make an immediate impact on how you recover between training sessions.  If you could have an hour massage every few days from a professional massage therapist, self massage would be much less important.

However, for cost effectiveness, self massage tools are excellent at decreasing recovery time, and increasing muscle function.  My personal favorite is the Roll Recovery R8, and I believe it will be your favorite too once you try it!

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Published by
Adam Kemp

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