A lot of us have been on post-pandemic health kicks or just relishing a return to the sports and fitness regimens we enjoyed before COVID-19 derailed everything. Subsequently, many of us (raises hand) might have overexerted ourselves.
Unfortunately, a few minutes of post-workout stretching isn’t always enough to relieve the aches and pains of a Couch to 5K excursion. While several popular massage gadgets have hit the market over the last few years, the pandemic has led to many seeking out recovery methods that don’t require coming face to face with a massage therapist. These gadgets might not measure up to a professional’s hands, but they may help. We’ve researched and tested all of the following picks, including percussive therapy guns, compression therapy tech, and even some analog accessories that don’t require charging.
I’m not an athlete, but I’ve had several chapters in my fitness journey over the years. I have a black belt in Judo, and am currently trying to perfect a backflip. I sweat my way through HIIT and weight training classes five times a week. And because of all these things, I have my own particular aches and pains, especially with my knee, neck and shoulders.
When testing some of these devices, I used them daily for over a week. Depending on what kind of recovery gadget it was, I would spend at least 15 minutes targeting stiff areas, alongside stretches. I’ve intermittently been using some of these accessories, like a foam roamer, for years.
There’s no vibrating function here, just a cylinder-shaped piece of foam (sometimes plastic or rubber) for you to gingerly roll yourself across. I’ve personally enjoyed some relief from knee issues (combined with recovery exercises and guidance from my physio) and found that it helped loosen up tight quads.
The great thing about a foam roller is its versatility. There are exercises for the shoulders, back muscles, the iliotibial (IT) band and every other part of your leg. Many rollers come with basic diagrams to try out, but you can also follow along with many YouTube videos; just search for a specific tight area.
If you’re new to foam rolling, I’d suggest this one from Trigger Point, which is gentler on your tender muscles than some of the plastic-molded options.
Buy foam roller at Amazon – $35
Trigger point massage balls
These rigid massage balls, usually the size of a tennis ball, offer a trigger point massage that helps tackle knots in your shoulder blade, or that tight corner of your glutes. Place the ball on a yoga mat (or carpet) and position your problem area over the ball, using your body weight to apply force. Relief isn’t just limited to the floor either. Try positioning the ball between your back – or shoulder – and a wall. There are several guides online, but this set of balls, with differing levels of stiffness, should ensure you feel the pressure at just the right level.