Do your muscles ache?
Have you been searching and searching for an effective home remedy to cure you of your ills?
Then, this article is for you!
Massage balls are an effective and fast solution for muscle knots and tension.
In this post, we discuss the place of massage balls as part of your workout program and as an effective tool to treat aches and pains.
We’ll look at why massage balls work, how to use them- and how to choose the best one for your needs!
What is a Massage Ball?
Previously, people used lacrosse balls, golf balls, or tennis balls as devices to relieve painful muscle knots or to massage fascia. Treatments were somewhat effective, as long as the right type of ball was chosen.
These days, we more commonly make use of specially made massage balls- also known as trigger point balls.
Massage balls are designed with your sore muscles in mind!
They work when pressure is applied to sore muscles using the ball. The massage ball works on releasing trigger points (knots in the fascia), and relieving painful muscles.
Why Use a Massage Ball?
Massage balls are portable and can be taken with you to use when you are in pain.
They are ideal for when you are stuck in one position for hours (such as on a long-haul trip), or for situations when you know that you will be in pain (if you are typing away all day in the office).
The advantages of a massage ball over a professional massage are their convenience and cost.
Most of us can’t afford to see a masseuse, massage therapist, or physical therapist every time you have muscle soreness.
Even if cost was not an issue, there are times when you might be in so much pain that you need to sort it out immediately.
The massage ball can access areas of the body that your hands can’t reach, such as the upper back.
Many people use massage balls as part of their post-workout program as well, but did you know that you don't have to wait until after your training?
Several studies have shown that massage balls used as part of your pre-workout can prevent muscle tension and promote flexibility and performance.
How to Use a Massage Ball
The position of the massage ball depends on which body part you want to work on.
You can lie on the floor, or into a wall against the ball so that your weight applies pressure to your sore muscles. The latter is great for back pain.
If you are working on the legs, then simply roll the massage ball with your hands and apply pressure to the area.
You can also stand on the massage ball (for example to release pressure in the soles of your feet).
With the above methods, you either move your body over the ball or roll the ball over your body.
To begin, apply pressure to the muscle knot with the ball until the pain starts to arise.
Once you have found the most painful spot, hold the ball there (wait until it is about 20% better). You can stay on the spot or move around a little to look for more painful spots close to this area.
Make small circular movements as you roll the ball over the area. At the same time, apply pressure by pressing on the ball.
For trigger points deep in the muscle, keep the pressure on one area until you feel the muscle release. For myofascial release, you can follow this up with a stretch.
In terms of how much pressure to use: Try not to overdo it! Otherwise, you may inflame the area, making matters worse. You will know this sort of pain when you feel it.
What you want to look for instead is a therapeutic, relieving type of pain.
How to Pick the Best Massage Ball for Your Needs
There are several, different factors that come into play when choosing a massage ball. It is definitely not a case of “one size fits all.”
Make sure to consider all of the following to help you decide what type of massage ball is best for you:
A small massage ball is ideal for the hands or under the feet and also for the hands, arms, and lower legs.
A larger massage ball can access larger muscle groups such as your quads, glutes, hamstrings, back, chest, and shoulders.
Smooth massage balls should be used on areas of the body that are particularly painful. If the area is very sensitive, then choose a massage ball that is extra-soft as well as smooth.
Some massage balls are designed with spikes that offer a gentler massage than regular massage balls. This sort of massage ball feels closest to massage by a real person.
Other types of balls have harder spikes or bumps that apply more pressure, which is good for deep muscle pain. The raised bumps stimulate blood flow to the area to promote healing too.
You have the choice of a hard or a soft ball, and there are pros and cons for each.
A hard ball will take some getting used to, and it may even be too painful for some people. However, it is effective at releasing trigger points and muscle tightness.
A soft ball is more comfortable, but it might not have enough pressure to relieve deep muscle pain.
It really depends on how tight your muscles are, as well as other factors such as how often you plan to use the massage ball and on which body part.
It is important not to compromise on quality.
If you plan to use your massage ball more than once, you will need one that will not degrade or break with repeated use. It must be able to withstand pressure over time!
Your massage ball should have enough grip to maintain contact with the floor without sliding when you are on it.
If it does not have enough grip, you could slide off it and do further harm to yourself. You’re meant to be healing, not getting injured- so take the issue of grip seriously.
The most expensive massage balls are battery powered or vibrating ones, as well as those with heat functions.
These balls, which can come in any size, are priced between $55-$150.
An average to large sized massage ball with a good, textured surface will cost $25-55.
At the lower end of the price spectrum are small to medium sized massage balls with no special features.
These are priced between $7-25, although you can still buy a ball with spikes or bumps at this price.
Here Are the 8 Best Massage Balls of 2023
Massage balls may seem quite simple, but there’s a lot more to them when you start looking to buy one. It all comes down to your needs and budget.
So, we broke down the best massage balls on the market for 2023 by category and also threw in a few extras for your consideration.
1. TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball - Best Overall
While it’s hard to recommend an overall best massage ball, TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball does tick most boxes.
It’s also one of the best-reviewed massage balls on Amazon with over 5,000 ratings, 80% of which are five stars.
Comes in three varieties:
- MB5 (5")- $17.99.
- MB1 (2.5")- $23.99.
- MBX (2.5")- $27.99.
The smaller two (MB1 and MBX) weigh no more than 1.2 ounces, while the larger MB5 weighs 5.8 ounces, so they’re easy to carry around.
For those with a small budget, this massage ball might be a bit pricey. If that’s the case, another product worth considering is the YOGA TUNE UP® Therapy Balls.
At the time of writing, they are currently the most highly reviewed massage balls on Amazon, and while they cost a little more than the MB5 massage ball, you get two for your money.
Do note, though, this massage ball doesn’t vibrate or feature any spikes.
2. FORZA Lacrosse Relief Massage Ball - Best Value
At $4.99, the FORZA Lacrosse Relief Massage Ball is the best massage ball for those on a tight budget.
It’s technically a lacrosse ball so don’t expect anything mind-blowing, but it will get the job done at a reasonable price.
There are cheaper balls available, though not many of them are conventional.
3. Kanjo Vibrating Relief Ball - Best Vibrating Massage Ball
Kanjo’s Vibrating Acupressure Foot Pain Relief Ball is highly effective at relieving and relaxing any aches and pains around the body, particularly the feet.
All you have to do is press the power button to get going. The ball features three speed settings, a bumpy design, and has excellent grip.
Note that this massage ball needs to be charged with a USB cable which can take two to four hours. If you take this massage ball out, you’ll want to make sure it’s charged.
You should also be careful not to get anything stuck in the charging port or to press the power button when rolling.
Two other vibrating massage balls worth mentioning are:
- Sedona’s 4-Speed Vibrating Massage Ball. A vibrating peanut massage ball, its slightly unconventional shape might not appeal to everyone.
- SOFT BEAUTY’s Electric Vibrating Massage Ball. A great alternative with 16 vibration settings, though, its shape is closer to a spiky ball.
4. WANDiORY Manual Massage Ball - Best Massage Ball for the Back
If you’re looking for a massage ball primarily for back pain, WANDiORY’s Manual Massage Ball is probably your best bet.
What makes it so practical for massaging the back is the holder it comes with. You can use the holder to roll it over your back or place it on the floor and move your back over it.
This might be better for you than using a regular ball because it’ll stay in one place. And, of course, the ball can be removed from the holder, and it doesn’t have to just be used on your back.
Another enticing feature of this massage ball is that you can change its temperature. You can place it in the freezer for a cold massage or put it in hot water for a warm massage.
This massage ball is reasonably priced at $7.49 for the basic version and there are also three other variations available:
- Mountable- sticks to the wall to massage your back when standing (a bit like a bear rubbing its back on a tree).
- Peanut- comes with two balls in a dual holder so you can massage two close-together areas at once.
- 2-pack- comes with two balls and two holders at $9.99.
5. Body Back Foot Star Massager Ball - Best Massage Ball for Feet (Heel and Sole)
When it comes to massaging your soles or heels or dealing with plantar fasciitis, small spiky balls can be most helpful.
Body Back’s Foot Star Massager Ball and Plantar Fasciitis Roller is a fitting example of this.
Designed specifically for the feet, it’s only 2" wide making it one of the smallest massage balls on this list and means it can be easily rolled on feet.
It also features gentle star-shaped spikes which can help dig into your feet without being too painful for those with sensitive feet.
Of course, this ball can also be used for other parts of the body and is noted to be particularly effective on the hands.
And lastly, remember that most other massage balls in this list can also help out with painful feet, so don’t feel that you need to buy a massage ball that’s marketed just for feet.
6. Kanjo Acupressure Foot Pain Relief Ball - Best Spiky Massage Ball
What’s particularly good about Kanjo’s Acupressure Foot Pain Relief Ball Set is that the smaller ball has gentle spikes while the larger ball has more pronounced spikes, giving you a choice.
You can use the larger massage ball when you need something tough or the smaller ball for mild relief.
These massage balls are particularly good for the feet. However, if you’ve never owned a spiky massage ball before, it would be wise to try one first to know if it’s for you.
If you’re not too experienced with hard spiky balls, you may end up only using the softer ball at first. That said, the opposite could also be true- you may find the softer ball too soft.
7. Rad’s Centre Ball - Best Soft Massage Ball
The thing about looking for a ‘soft’ massage ball is that your definition of soft might be different from others and that makes buying one online pretty tricky.
That’s why RAD’s Centre I Soft Myofascial Release Ball is particularly useful- it comes with a pump so you can change its firmness to a level that suits you.
The only thing that might be off-putting is its size. Available from 6 to 7 inches, it might be considered quite large.
You should also note that because this ball is mostly made up of air, you may need to pump it often to keep it inflated.
8. Invincible Fitness Massage Ball Set - Best Massage Ball Set
There’s no issue you won’t be able to solve with Invincible Fitness’s Muscle Massage Ball Set. It includes:
- 2.5" lacrosse ball.
- 5" foam ball.
- 3.5" spiky ball.
- 6.2" peanut lacrosse ball.
On top of that, you’ll also get a carry bag, an ebook user guide, and an exercise poster. If you’re still new to massage balls, the latter two will be super handy.
The only thing it doesn’t include is a battery-powered vibration massage ball.
And lastly, before deciding on a massage ball set, make sure you understand what each ball is for. You may come to realize that you don’t need several balls, but that one is fine.
Massage Ball FAQs
Are Massage Roller Balls Any Good?
Massage balls are wonderful for loosening tight muscles and relieving tension. With frequent use, they can help you become more flexible.
Are Vibrating Massage Balls Effective?
The vibrating massage balls come with a range of speeds and are ideal for relieving tight muscles and fascia.
They are good for working on the back, calves, feet, forearms, glutes, hamstrings, hips, and shoulders or neck.
Vibrating massage balls are more uncomfortable to use, however, because they are not padded in foam.
How Often Should You Use a Massage Ball?
If you are in pain, you can use a massage ball twice a day for sore spots.
Each time you release the muscle, you should also do some stretches to encourage the muscle back to its natural position and increase range of motion.
How Long Should I Use a Massage Ball For?
The massage ball is ideal when used in short bursts of 15-60 seconds. Basically, you should use it until the muscles release, then do a second set of 15-90 seconds.
Are Spiky Massage Balls Better?
Spiky massage balls are not necessarily better- they’re just different! If it is a soft, spiky ball, the pressure will be less intense than that of a regular massage ball.
If it is a hard, spiky ball, then it will be able to offer deep tissue massage. However, there will be a certain amount of discomfort or pain involved.
You should be guided by the amount of pain that you are in and how tight your muscles are.
Consider other factors such as how often you will use the massage ball, and the areas of the body that you plan to target.