The best fitness recovery tools

Many of us have experienced post-pandemic health kicks or simply enjoyed getting back into the sports and fitness regimes we enjoyed before COVID-19 derailed everything. Then, many of us (raising your hand) may have exhausted ourselves.

Unfortunately, a few minutes of post-workout stretching isn’t always enough to relieve the soreness of a Couch to 5K trip. Although many popular massage tools have come to market over the past few years, the pandemic has prompted many people to seek ways to recover that don’t require talking face-to-face with a massage therapist. These tools may not be up to the task in the hands of professionals, but they can help. We’ve researched and tested all of the following options, including road therapy pistols, pressure therapy technology, and even some analog attachments that don’t require charging.


About Me

I’m not an athlete, but I’ve had several classes in my fitness journey over the years. I have a black belt in judo and am currently trying to improve the back jump. I sweat in HIIT and strength training classes five times a week. Because of all of these things, I have my own aches and pains, especially in my knees, neck, and shoulder.

When testing some of these devices, I’ve used them daily for over a week. Depending on what kind of recovery tool it was, I spent at least 15 minutes targeting the stiff areas, along with stretching. I’ve been using some of these accessories, like the foam roving, in and out for years.


foam roller

ignition point or ignition moment

There is no vibration function here, just a cylinder-shaped piece of sponge (sometimes plastic or rubber) that you can gently turn over. I’ve personally enjoyed some relief from my knee issues (along with recovery exercises and tips from my physicist) and have found it helps relieve my tight quads.

The great thing about the foam roller is its versatility. There are exercises for the shoulders, back muscles, iliac band and all the other parts of your leg. Many of the rollers come in basic styles to try, but you can also follow along with plenty of YouTube videos; Just look for a specific narrow area.

If you’re new to foam-rolling, I suggest this one from Trigger Point, which is kinder to your thinner muscles than some of the plastic options.

Buy Foam Roller on Amazon – $35

trigger point massage balls

These stiff massage balls, usually the size of a tennis ball, provide a trigger point massage that helps treat knots in the scapula or that tight corner of your butt muscles. Place the ball on your yoga mat (or mat) and place your problem area on top of the ball, using your body weight to apply strength. Relief isn’t limited to land either. Try placing the ball between your back – or your shoulder – and the wall. There are many guides on the Internet, but this set of balls, with varying levels of hardness, should make you feel pressure at the right level.

Buy Massage Ball on Amazon – $17


This recommendation comes from my colleague Valentina Palladino, who loves this support to improve her yoga habit. Braces are sturdy cushions of many shapes and sizes that help many yogis maintain good posture in certain movements, due to lack of flexibility or minor injuries.

According to Valentina: “While I don’t stretch as much as I should, this support I originally bought just for yoga comes in handy when I’m sitting on the mat for 10 minutes after a race. I mainly use it for back extensions, as I put the bolster under my back the bottom so that I can decompress my spine nicely.

She adds, “There are custom back stretchers you can buy something similar, but I like the brace for its supportive comfort and versatility. I always use it during yoga sessions as a tool to deepen certain movements, and it also provides extra support in sitting postures.”

Buy Brace on Amazon – $40

Pumpkin therapy and massage guns

The best fitness recovery tools

Matt Smith / Engadget

Should you splurge on something more powerful and expensive, though? There is proven evidence that manual hand massage helps reduce pain, but there is less supporting data for many of the purported benefits of percussion therapy devices.

Depending on the company and device, some claims (such as improved performance or range of motion) are backed by small studies, but others (including cellulite reduction and faster muscle recovery) are not.

Dr. Kelly Starrett, Hyperice athlete performance advisor (and founding movement expert at CrossFit) told Engadget: “When we try to change the way the brain interprets information from the body’s tissue systems as dangerous or threatening; vibrations, percussions, and even heat can help us feel better. .

My own experience follows this: Using one with a targeted approach to tight areas is gentle and can help you prepare your body for exercise without overburdening yourself.

If you’ve seen the Instagram ads, you already know there are plenty of massage guns to choose from, but our picks come from two of the hottest players in the business, Therabody’s Theragun and Hyperice’ HyperVolt series.

Theragon Prime

The best fitness recovery tools

Matt Smith / Engadget

We’ve touched on the benefits of Theragun Premier before, but it’s the company’s unique triangular design that makes its devices stand out. It offers multiple ways to hold the Theragun and helps target the most sensitive parts of the body. As one of the most premium massaging devices out there, you get a 16mm capacity (usually machines beat them by hundreds of dollars more) and speeds of up to 2,400 beats per minute.

The Prime comes with three additional attachments in addition to the standard ball: a cone, a flat head shock absorber and a thumb piece, which can help dig deeper.

Therabody’s newest family of road therapy devices is also quieter than older Theraguns – and most of the competition – but they certainly aren’t as quiet.

Buy Theragun Prime on Amazon – $289

Hyper Volt 2 Pro

The Hyper Volt 2 Pro has a more traditional design, but I prefer tweaking it to switch between different speeds. It also comes with additional head attachments including a fork attachment, flat wedge and padded head.

This is the best-in-class flagship Hypervolt, so it delivers the fastest speeds (faster even than Theragun Prime). However, while it’s also quieter than the Prime, it’s a bit more difficult to maneuver in confined spaces without someone else’s help.

These devices are generally safe for most use cases, but check each company’s safety guidelines pages. It is a good idea to speak to your doctor before use if you are pregnant, have recently had surgery, or have any skin or nervous system conditions.

Buy HyperVolt 2 Pro on Amazon – $399


The best fitness recovery tools

Matt Smith / Engadget

Hyperice has also combined its own vibration technology with the targeted comfort of a massage ball. The Hypersphere (and Hypersphere mini) includes three vibration levels and an easy-to-understand LED display for measuring battery life and intensity levels. Plus, the shape adds a different degree of versatility, since you don’t have to reach your arm where you might need to rest.

It also has an elastic layer that helps it stay in place if you’re not stretching or massaging on the yoga mat. Notably, the smaller Mini has a more powerful motor and is more comparable in size to a lacrosse ball. Despite having a more powerful engine and roughly the same range, it’s more affordable than the larger model. Most will find the Mini to be the better option, but the larger Hypersphere I’ve found works well in my lower back and chest because it lifts my body off the ground and increases target pressure.

Buy Hypersphere on Amazon – $99
Buy Mini from Hyperice – $74

Air Recovery Therabody

Therabody, the company behind Theragun, has branched out into several additional recovery products. The company also offers a roller and vibrating foam ball, but their RecoveryAir series is very different, using controlled pressure to gently massage your legs or arms.

Le système RecoveryAir est divisé en un système inférieur (pour vos jambes, du pied à la hanche) et un système supérieur du corps, mais le “pantalon” semble être le meilleur appareil pour la plupart, masssant the body. They feel especially good after a heavy squat session or a long run.

Bien que Therabody soit peut-être nouveau dans le domaine de la thérapie par compression, la science et la recherche à ce sujet se poursuivent depuis des décennies, avec des vêtements de compression médicaux dès les années 1950 a de utilisé conditions la pr utilis World War II.

AirRecover compresses your legs, stimulating blood circulation in the body like – a quote from a Therabody spokesperson – “squeezing a tube of toothpaste”. It feels comfortable: AirRecover performs compression cycles in the feet, calves, knees, hamstrings, and thighs. You can adjust the strength of the pressure and the duration of the massage up to 1 hour. Compared to massage guns and fixed tissue massagers, you get lazier and let AirRecover do the work.

You can just relax on your favorite sofa or chair, and watch Netflix while you squeeze it in. This ease of use comes at a hefty price: $1,299. It’s a little pricey compared to the other devices we’ve included here, but it’s also a completely different, self-driving experience.

Buy Recovery Air Pro at Therabody – $1,299

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