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- Best foam roller: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
- Best budget-friendly foam roller: Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller
- Best vibrating roller: Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller
- Best cryotherapy tool: Recoup Fitness Cryosphere Cold Massage Roller
- Best massage ball: 4KOR Fitness Ultimate Massage Ball Set
- Best massage gun: Theragun Elite
- Best massage stick: Tiger Tail Massage Stick, Mega Muscle Massager Roller Stick
- Best kit: TriggerPoint Performance Collection
- Most like human touch: MINTBIOLOGY KOA Elite HUMANTouch 3.0
Tired of waking up feeling sore? Does your body ache after every workout?
Allow us to introduce myofascial release, a technique often used by physical therapists.
Myofascial release is a technique in which pressure is applied to the fascia — the connective tissue that surrounds every muscle in your body — in the hopes of relieving pain and increasing range of motion (
While some products cover a larger surface area, others may help break up muscle knots — also known as trigger points.
We compiled a list of the best myofascial release tools to fit a variety of needs using the following criteria:
- Versatility. We looked for products that can be used on multiple parts of your body or offer varying levels of pressure.
- Durability. We know you want a tool that will hold up over time, which is why all the products below are well-regarded for their durability and quality.
- Ease of use. We looked for products designed to be easy to use and comfortable to hold.
- Warranty. Especially for more expensive tools, the warranty of each product factored into our decision.
- Price. We know budgets can differ, so we included options at a variety of price points.
- Customer reviews. All the tools on this list have mostly positive customer reviews.
Just keep in mind that it’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before using a myofascial release tool.
In addition to clearing you for the use of these items, a professional can show you how to use them correctly and recommend the best product to fit your needs.
Here are the 10 best myofascial release tools of 2021.
Best foam roller
Bottom line: a moderately-priced foam roller with a varied surface to provide a deep-tissue massage for your legs or back
Foam rolling is a popular self-myofascial release technique designed to improve blood flow and ease muscle soreness and tightness.
Because they target a larger area than other myofascial release tools, foam rollers are commonly used on the legs and back.
While some are smooth, others, like this roller from TriggerPoint, have bumps and ridges to provide deeper and more intense pressure.
In addition to being lightweight and easy to use, this grid roller is available in several bright colors (neon orange, anyone?) and includes access to free online instructional videos.
What’s more, it supports users of varying sizes, with a max weight capacity 500 pounds (226.8 kg).
One thing to keep in mind is that this foam roller doesn’t collapse, so it’s a bit bulky for traveling.
Additionally, as with any other foam roller, avoid rolling directly over small joints such as your knees or elbows.
Best budget-friendly foam roller
Bottom line: an inexpensive, basic foam roller designed to ease everyday muscle soreness
If you’re interested in a basic foam roller, look no further than this high density option from Amazon.
In contrast to the TriggerPoint roller above, the Amazon foam roller has a smooth surface that’s designed to distribute pressure evenly, which may be more comfortable if you’re new to foam rolling.
In addition to being affordable, the roller is available is several sizes and has nearly 65,000 (mostly) positive customer reviews online.
As with the GRID Foam Roller, users of this roller should avoid rolling directly over small joints and their lower back.
Also, make sure to consult a healthcare professional before using a foam roller, especially if you have a chronic injury or are pregnant.
Best vibrating roller
Bottom line: a high tech upgrade to the classic foam roller that’s designed to help relieve muscle soreness and improve circulation in larger muscle groups
Looking for a cross between a massage gun and a foam roller? A vibrating roller may be the myofascial release tool of your dreams.
The Vyper 2.0 is a vibrating foam roller made by Hyperice — the company behind other popular recovery tools, including Hypervolt percussion massagers and Normatec compression devices.
According to Hyperice, in addition to easing sore muscles, regular use of the Vyper 2.0 may help increase range of motion by up to 40%.
Plus, with three vibration settings, the roller allows you to customize the intensity of your massage. It’s also cordless, compact, and TSA-approved for carry-on, so it’s convenient for travel.
What’s more, the roller includes 2 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that provide up to 2 hours of use per charge.
High tech features aside, the Vyper 2.0 offers the same benefits as other foam rollers and is particularly beneficial for massaging larger muscle groups in your back and lower body.
The Vyper 2.0 is covered by a 1-year warranty.
Best cryotherapy tool
Bottom line: a convenient tool that combines the benefits of massage and cold therapy to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation
The Cryosphere is a massage roller that’s filled with nontoxic cooling gel to combine the benefits of cryotherapy and self-myofascial release.
Slightly larger than a baseball, the sphere can be used on its own or inserted into a rubber grip to make it easier to hold.
While it’s not the only cooling massage device on the market, the Cryosphere stands out for its quick chill time — it can be frozen and ready to go in just 2 hours. It also stays cold for up to 6 hours and is easy to clean.
Like other massage rollers, the Cryosphere can be used to target trigger points in most areas of your body, including your shoulders, arms, legs, and feet.
It may also be a good option if you’re dealing with tennis elbow or have another small area in need of relief (
Keep in mind that cryotherapy should not be performed continuously for long periods, since numbness, tiredness, skin irritation, and redness can occur with prolonged exposure.
Additionally, people with nerve damage should avoid using cryotherapy unless under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
Best massage ball
Bottom line: a great value if you prefer the simplicity of massage balls and have multiple trigger points you’d like to target
Because they have a smaller surface area than a foam roller, massage balls offer a greater amount of precision and pressure control.
They’re especially useful for relieving trigger points in areas such as your hands, feet, neck, and hips.
This three-piece set from 4KOR stands out for the range of ball options it provides, including a lacrosse ball and two massage balls — all of which are latex-free and made of natural rubber.
Called Fireballs, 4KOR’s massage balls include a grid-like design for increased pressure. The kit includes two sizes of Fireballs:
- 4.75-inch (12-cm) for targeting larger muscle groups in your lower body
- 3.2-inch (8.1-cm) for isolating trigger points
Similar to the smaller massage ball, the lacrosse ball is designed to provide targeted relief.
However, because it has a smooth surface rather than the grooves and treads of the Fireballs, it allows for a more even distribution of pressure, which is useful for massaging out more sensitive areas.
Although it’s not included in the kit, 4KOR also offers a peanut ball, which is designed to cradle your spine to relieve tension in your neck.
As a bonus, the kit comes with a lifetime satisfaction guarantee.
Best massage gun
Bottom line: a high powered tool that’s ideal for athletes looking for a high intensity, targeted massage
Massage guns are high powered devices that provide short bursts of pressure to targeted areas of your body.
While they’re more expensive than other myofascial release tools, massage guns are designed for athletes who want more intensity than a massage ball or stick can provide.
Theragun is one of the most popular massage gun brands, and its Theragun Elite model provides the best bang for your buck.
In addition to speeds ranging from 1,750–2,400 percussions per minute (PPM), the device offers 2 hours of battery life, 5 interchangeable heads, and an ergonomic handle. It’s both powerful and easy to use.
Other notable features include a quiet motor and Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to adjust the speed and save custom presets using the Therabody app.
The Elite also travels well, as it weighs just 2.2 pounds (1 kg) and is TSA-approved.
Just keep in mind that massage guns do come with some risks. To avoid potential injuries, avoid using them directly on joints, nerves, lymphatic tissue, and major arteries and veins.
Best massage stick
Bottom line: a perfect option for runners who are looking for a travel-friendly way to ease sore muscles
Interested in a foam roller without the bulk?
Massage sticks differ from foam rollers in that they use pressure from your hands rather than your bodyweight, making it easier to adjust the intensity.
They’re also lighter and more compact, so they’re ideal if you’re traveling or tight on space.
The Tiger Tail Massage Stick is one of the best options — it’s highly rated for being easy to angle, thanks to its comfortable rubber grips.
While it can be used on multiple parts of your body, customers note that it’s particularly useful for massaging longer muscles in the legs and back.
The Tiger Tail Massage Stick is made in the United States using latex-free, medical-grade foam and plastic. It comes with a 3-year warranty.
Bottom line: ideal for those who want the convenience and simplicity of a traditional massage stick but with extra intensity for trigger points
While the Tiger Tail Massage Stick has a smooth surface, the Mega Muscle Massager Roller Stick features spiked balls, which are designed to reach deep into trigger points for maximum relief.
It’s also one of the more affordable massage sticks on the market.
While the stick works great for rolling out your legs and hips, several customers note that it’s hard to use on your back without help from a friend or partner.
Bottom line: an affordable kit that’s great for travel
Looking for a comprehensive set of manual release tools? The TriggerPoint Performance Collection provides an excellent value.
The kit includes five myofascial release tools:
- a quadballer for massaging larger muscle groups
- a footballer for your lower legs
- two massage balls for targeting trigger points
- a baller block for keeping your leg elevated
This kit is especially popular with athletes on the go, as it takes up less space than a regular foam roller.
What’s more, your purchase comes with a 1-year warranty and access to an instructional video portal to ensure that you’re using the tools correctly.
Most like human touch
Bottom line: an easy-to-hold massage tool that’s ideal if you’re looking to dig deep into muscle knots and sore spots
The MINTBIOLOGY KOA Elite HUMANTouch 3.0 features finger-like spacing to mimic a human’s elbow, knuckles, and fingers.
Thanks to its unique design, the tool allows you to control the pace, depth, and pressure applied for a more customized experience.
Unlike foam rollers and massage sticks, the KOA Elite HUMANTouch 3.0 is meant to dig deep, targeting trigger points nearly anywhere on your body — from your scalp down to the bottom of your feet.
Plus, its small size allows it to fit perfectly in your carry-on or gym bag.
And if you’re concerned about exposure to chemicals, it’s worth noting that the KOA Elite HUMANTouch 3.0 is 100% free of BPA, PBDE, TBBPA, and phthalates.
When shopping for a myofascial release tool, there are several important factors to consider:
- Intended use. One of the most important considerations is which part(s) of your body you want to apply pressure to. Some tools, like foam rollers, are designed for larger muscle areas, whereas others, like massage guns and balls, help break up muscle knots — also known as myofascial trigger points.
- Intensity. You’ll also have to decide how much pressure you need and whether you want a tool that vibrates, has ridges, or is cold.
- Budget. Because there’s a wide range of products for every budget, it’s helpful to have an idea of how much you’re willing to spend on a myofascial release tool. Especially if you buy a motorized product, you’ll also want to note what’s covered under warranty and for how long.
- Size. The size of the device is another important factor, as some are designed to fit in a gym bag, while others are too bulky to carry around.
- Ease of use. Some products make it easier (or more comfortable) to perform a self-massage than others.
It’s also worth looking for products that include detailed instructional materials, such as access to online training videos.
Finally, if you have any questions or concerns about using these products, make sure to talk with a healthcare professional before making your purchase.
From foam rollers and massage sticks to cryotherapy balls and massage guns, there’s a myofascial release tool to fit nearly every budget and recovery need.
When shopping for a release tool, make sure to consider your intended use and select a product you feel comfortable handling.
For safety purposes, always follow the manufacturer’s directions and discuss any questions or concerns with a healthcare professional.