Myofascial release is popular with fitness enthusiasts because it helps reduce muscle tension and soreness after workouts. Proper workout recovery will help to prevent injuries.
Myofascial releases are great at relieving tension and stress from tight muscles. They can also help increase range of motion and flexibility. The problem has usually been finding the right myofascial release tools that allow people to self-massage.
There are many self-myofascial release tools on the market now. Some work well and target specific sore muscles and areas. These are usually designed well ergonomically for easy triggering of pressure points and made with high-quality materials for durability.
Unfortunately, not all tools are made the same and there are also some products that are not made well. They won't offer relief and could break down easily.
In this article, I'll share with you my top picks for the best self-myofascial release tools on the market. I will cover different myofascial release tools for the back, neck, feet, legs, arms, and other parts of the body.
Be we get into the details, here's an overview of the best myofascial release tools that will satisfy a variety of needs:
Best High-Density Foam Roller: Amazon Basics High-Density Foam Roller
Best Multi-Density Foam Roller: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
Best Vibrating Foam Roller: Lifepro Surger
Best Muscle Rolling Stick: The Original Body Stick
Best Massage Ball: 4KOR Fitness Ultimate Massage Balls
Best Massage Gun: Theragun Pro
Best Value Massage Gun: Mebak Massage Gun
Best Trigger Point Cane: LiBa Massage Cane
Best Massage Wheel: Chirp Wheel+ Foam Roller
Best Bodyweight-Based Massage Tool: MFLEX Trigger Point Massager Tool
Best Compression Boots: Normatec Pulse 2.0
Best Acupressure Mat: Kanjo Memory Foam Acupressure Mat
- Best Cryotherapy Tool: iECO Cryosphere Massage Roller Ball
What Is Self-Myofascial Release?
Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a self-massage technique used to relieve muscle pain and improve mobility by targeting trigger points. You will target those areas where you are feeling extra sore, tight, or stiff.
Through the use of massage and different trigger point tools, you will release tension in the connective tissues (fascia) surrounding your muscles, bones, nerves, and other parts of your body. Myofascial release is one of the most effective ways to pull apart the tight muscle layers and release the tension in the fascia.
Self-myofascial release tools include devices like foam rollers, rolling sticks, vibrators, massagers, and more. Some of the tools will offer more coverage, while others like massage guns are more targeted when it comes to releasing tension.
Learn more in our What is Myofascial Release guide.
Best Myofascial Release Tools for Relief
Let's take a look at the different categories of myofascial release tools out there and the best products in each category.
Best High-Density Foam Roller - Amazon Basics High-Density Foam Roller
Foam rollers are popular for self myofascial release therapy. The reason why they're so popular is that they can be used anywhere. You don't have to go to a spa or gym to do SMR. You can use them at home, at work, or even during travel. You just need some floor space.
There are two main types of foam rollers: high-density and multi-density. High-density foam rollers are typically thicker than their multi-density counterparts.
The core of a high-density roller is filled in, making them able to support more weight on them. The extra firmness also provides better support and stability. This makes them ideal for deep tissue work.
High-density foam rollers come in various sizes from small to large. If you want something portable, then consider getting a smaller size.
The Amazon Basics High-Density Foam Roller is a great option because it's affordable and made from molded polypropylene for durability and firmness. The Amazon Basics Roller comes in four convenient sizes: 12, 18, 24, and 36 inches.
The longer sizes are great for taller people. One of the most common exercises with a foam roller is for the back and rolling up and down. But another great exercise that many customers love is rolling side to side. By lying on a roller that is set vertically from your neck to your tailbone, you can roll side to side.
Some customers have said they've been able to use this roller for over 5 years, so it's a durable foam roller. They say the firmness of this one also allows them to work deeper tissues in the muscles.
Find the Amazon Basics Foam Roller on Amazon.com.
Best Multi-Density Foam Roller - TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
Multi-density foam rollers provide a softer surface for those times you don't need to work deeper muscle tissues. They are perfect for relieving minor aches, stiffness, and pains, as well as improving flexibility.
While a smooth surface roller won't work as deep, the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller makes up for the multi-density foam core by adding a textured and varied surface to be able to simulate a deep-tissue massage.
The TriggerPoint is popular with physical therapists, athletic trainers, and coaches. It's lightweight and easily portable, so it's easy to take on the road. At 13-inches, it also doesn't take up a lot of space, so can easily fit in a suitcase.
The hollow core is made of multi-density EVA foam that is durable and able to withstand large athletes up to 500 pounds. Customers say that the foam roller still holds its original form after 6 years of use.
Find the TriggerPoint Foam Roller on Amazon.com.
Best Vibrating Foam Roller - Lifepro Surger
A vibrating foam roller adds an additional element to your muscle recovery. The vibration creation can help to increase blood circulation, recovery, and flexibility.
The extra pulses are said to help further relieve muscle tension and soreness. Vibrating foam rollers will typically have three to five intensity levels for varying degrees of pain.
The Lifepro Surger Vibrating Foam Roller has four vibration speed levels for varying amounts of intensity. It also comes with a built-in timer for 60, 90, and 120 seconds. That means no more need to worry about keeping an eye on your watch.
The Lifepro lithium-ion battery has a 10,400 mAh capacity that allows for 4 hours of use on the go. At 3.63 pounds, it's light enough to take with you when traveling, so you'll always have muscle pain relief available.
Many customers have said how powerful the vibrations are and how quickly they can help to relieve muscle tension in pain after just 15 minutes of use. They also say that the foam roller is of perfect stiffness, so it can also be used as a regular foam roller.
Best Muscle Rolling Stick - The Original Body Stick
Rolling sticks are designed to be extremely portable and a popular myofascial release tool for runners. They're ideal for massaging tight muscles, especially in tight spaces.
The rolling stick is one of the most versatile tools for its compact size, making it easy to store away when not in use. You can use them anywhere without having to worry about damaging floors or furniture, or when you don't have a place to lie down.
Rolling sticks and its handles also give you more flexibility to control the amount of pressure you want. The downward pressure comes from your hands, instead of your body weight.
The Original Body Stick offers a variety of stick lengths and stiffness levels, including 14", 19", 20", 23", and their original 24" rolling stick.
Commonly known as just The Stick, it is one of the favorites of athletes, trainers, and physical therapists. The core offers slight flexibility for covering the larger areas like the thighs.
The stick has 15 independent spindles that rotate around the center rod help to target and stretch out tight muscles.
Best Massage Ball - 4KOR Fitness Ultimate Massage Balls
Massage balls are great for specific targeting and relieving stress and tension in your back, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, and feet. They provide deep tissue massages while relaxing your mind and body.
Massage balls are small and perfect for travel. They come in different sizes, shapes, and materials, but all offer similar benefits.
The 4KOR Fireball Recovery Set of ultimate massage balls consists of three ball sizes to target different body parts: 4.7", 3.2", and 2.5".
Compared to larger foam rollers, the small sizes of massage balls allow for more laser-targeting of pressure points and sore muscles.
Each massage ball is made of thermoplastic rubber (TPR) for durability and amazing gripping ability to prevent slipping. TPR is durable and won't break easily, which makes this set an excellent choice.
One of the worst parts of using a massage ball is the constant slipping if the ball's materials or pattern aren't well-made. The 4KOR massage ball grid pattern is perfect to prevent slippage and for myofascial release. The smallest is a lacrosse ball that doesn't have a grid pattern, but it still doesn't slip with the TPR material it's made of.
If you prefer massage balls with spikes that can target acupressure points on the feet to reduce pain, take a look at the Kanjo Acupressure Foot Pain Relief Ball Set.
One of the Kanjo balls provides mild relief with gentler spikes. The other provides deeper relief with its more pronounced spikes.
There is also the Kanjo Vibrating Acupressure Foot Pain Relief Ball that offers multiple vibrating intensity levels for varying pain relief.
Best Massage Gun - Theragun Pro
A massage gun is used to apply deep muscle stimulation by delivering controlled bursts of air pressure. It is commonly used on athletes during sports training and massage therapy sessions to loosen up stiff muscles and relieve tension.
The Theragun Pro is the best massage gun on the market as it's used by professional athletes and massage therapists alike. This model comes with two interchangeable heads, allowing you to use either a kneading or tapping head.
The great thing about the Theragun is how comfortable it is to hold due to its ergonomic multi-grip design. The rotating arm can snap into 4 unique arm positions to easy use the massage gun on different parts of your body to reduce muscle tension and soreness.
A popular benefit that customers love is how quiet it is when in use. The QuietForce Technology delivers a force up to 60 lbs. while still being quiet. It can deliver that power with 5 built-in speeds (1750, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2400 percussions per minute)
At only 2.9 lbs., it's also portable. Take it out with you to use after training sessions or on the road with you. The battery will last for up to 5 hours, so you don't need to worry about having to charge it when using it outside.
Best Value Massage Gun - Mebak Massage Gun
For those on a lower budget, but still want a massage gun, the Mebak Massage Gun is the best value out there for deep tissue muscle relief.
The Mebak comes with 7 different head attachments and 5 adjustable intensity speeds to suit your different needs and target various body areas.
The affordable Mebak massage gun is made for portability too with a 2600mAh battery that lasts for 3 hours and only weighs 2.1 lbs.
Best Trigger Point Cane - LiBa Massage Cane
A trigger point cane helps to locate small, painful muscle knots and provides targeted pressure to release them. The other myofascial release tools previously covered larger areas around the body, but this tool focuses on smaller trigger points on your body like the hands, feet, neck, and back.
This LiBa trigger point cane has an ergonomic design with 6 well-placed nodes that allow you to easily maneuver it to hit different parts of the body. Its soft rubber tip makes it easy to find trigger points and sensitive spots.
The LiBa massage cane is extra durable due to its fiberglass-infused material, so it won't break as you pull on it to find relief on deep tissue knots.
Massage canes have become popular for those with fibromyalgia and arthritis pain. When you don't have others around, these massage tools can offer you better leverage to improve blood flow and relax tense muscles.
Best Massage Wheel - Chirp Wheel+ Foam Roller
If you're looking for a myofascial release tool that targets the muscles around your spine, a massage wheel is what you're looking for. Massage wheels will relieve pressure on your spinal cord and help to correct spine curvature. That will help to improve posture and reduce back muscle strain.
The Chirp Wheel+ Foam Roller is the best massage wheel available and this set of 3 comes in three different sizes: 4", 6", and 10".Deciding on which size wheel to use depends on the amount of pressure and targeting you want.
The larger wheels offer a gentler rolling and pressure for general back pain and muscle tension relief, while also opening up your chest more at the same time. The smaller diameter will target specific muscle tension and pain.
The Chirp Wheel+ has a spinal canal and 1/2" thick padding for comfort when using. The spinal canal protects your spine by allowing it to dip into the canal while the wheel digs deep into your muscles. The wheels are also durable, supporting up to 500 lbs.
Best Bodyweight-Based Massage Tool - MFLEX Trigger Point Massager Tool
When you need a quick self-massage session, a bodyweight-based massage tool is perfect. These MFLEX Trigger Point Massager Tools are great for relieving tightness, soreness, or even just relaxing after a long day.
The MFLEX body weight based massager tools come with two sets of heads that are interchangeable with a non-slip base. The base width is also adjustable for different body sizes.
With the heads and base, they're able to give you a deep-tissue massage to different muscles on your body. To relieve the hard-to-reach trigger points on your back more easily, the MFLEX can also be used on the wall.
Customers who travel frequently love the MFLEX for its portability and flexibility. There's no battery that needs recharging and it's easy to store in your travel bag.
Best Compression Boots - Normatec Pulse 2.0
Compression boots are designed to provide compression therapy to your legs and feet. Boots work by filling up with air and using a pulse compression sequence to increase blood circulation and flow, reduce swelling, and reduce muscle pain and soreness.
The Normatec Pulse 2.0 Leg Recovery System is a top-of-the-line compression boot and used by professional physical therapists, athletic trainers, and elite athletes.
Normatec's patented Pulse massage technology provides a compression sequence that many customers praise for reducing swelling, increasing circulation, and improving range of motion.
The Normatec compression boots are easy to transport in a check-in bag as it's already TSA-approved.
Best Acupressure Mat - Kanjo Memory Foam Acupressure Mat
Acupressure mats are designed to stimulate acupressure points on your body as you lie down on it. They can easily be used on the floor, bed, or couch.
The Kanjo Memory Foam Acupressure Mat is made of high-density memory foam that provides superior support and comfort. It features BPA-free plastic stimulators to activate many acupressure points on your back at once.
The Kanjo set also includes an acupressure pillow that helps to give you extra relief and stimulation on your neck and upper back when needed.
Best Cryotherapy Tool - iECO Cryosphere Massage Roller Ball
Cryotherapy is a form of cold therapy that involves applying very cold temperatures to areas of the body that are injured. The cold will reduce inflammation and swelling, and offer self-myofascial release. Cryotherapy is often used to treat injuries such as sprains, strains, and various sports injuries.
The iECO Cryosphere Cold Massage Roller Ball is actually a 3-in-1 ball that can be used for cold, heat, and massage therapy. To use for cold therapy, put the Cryosphere ball in the freezer for 2 hours. That will give you up to 6 hours of cold usage.
Use the ball anywhere there is pain to reduce inflammation and for myofascial release. The Cryosphere works great on the legs, calves, arms, neck, back, and feet.
The small size makes it extremely portable, so you can take it on any trip. Since the cold will hold for up to 6 hours, you can take it out of the freezer, get a workout in, and use it immediately for post-workout recovery.
If you're looking for something that's better for facial swelling and redness, the Kanjo Soothing Ice Roller will do the trick. The Kanjo ice roller only needs to go in the freezer for 15 minutes before you can use it.
The ice roller will help to encourage blood circulation to reduce signs of aging on your skin. It will help to shrink your facial pores for a smoother complexion.
The Kanjo roller is also great for headaches, pains, and other minor muscle aches. It can also help relieve stress and anxiety.
How to Pick a Myofascial Release Tool
There are five main factors to consider when picking out a myofascial release tool:
- What part of your body needs attention
- Ease of Use
Keep in mind that you should talk with your healthcare professional about which tools would work best for you. He or she may have additional recommendations based on your condition. They will also be able to show you how to properly use the tools.
1. What Part of Your Body Needs Attention?
Myofascial release tools are designed to target specific parts of your body. Think about what parts of the body are in need of regular attention and it'll help you choose the right myofascial release tool for you.
If your back is in pain, you'll want to look at getting a foam roller. If your legs are hurting, compression boots or a massage gun will be good options.
Many of the tools are versatile too, so they can provide pain relief for multiple parts of your body. For example, if you have a sore shoulder or knee, you could use a foam roller or a massage gun to work on those areas.
How intense does the myofascial release need to be? Do you need the tool to provide a deep-tissue massage? Is it just enough to loosen tight muscles or is it going to require some serious pressure?
Most people don't realize how much pressure they need for their muscles. Too little pressure can lead to no relief, but too much can cause damage. You should always start with low intensity and increase the pressure until you find the level that feels best for you.
Does the tool fit comfortably in your hands? You want a tool that fits well into your hand but is not so big that it becomes cumbersome.
If you need to travel with the tool, you will also want to consider getting something you can be on the go with.
4. Ease of Use
Is the tool easy to use? Most myofascial tools are easy to use, but ones like the massage gun can also be dangerous if not used properly.
Make sure you think about how easy a tool is to use or you may hurt yourself.
Do you have a budget in mind? There are many different types of myofascial tools available at different price levels.
Some of the more expensive models offer more features than others, especially when there are electronics involved. So you will want to read some customer reviews to see which ones are more reliable and worth the money.
How Do You Use a Myofascial Release Tool?
Once you've chosen the right tool for your needs, you will want to learn how to use it. If you have a physical therapist or healthcare professional that recommended a myofascial release tool, you should also have them show you how to use the tools based on your needs.
A foam roller is one of the most popular myofascial release tools out there. The goal is to roll over your tense muscle groups using the roller.
Use your foam roller by following these steps:
- Position your tight or sore muscle on the foam roller.
- Slowly roll your body back and forth to massage and stimulate the area.
- Stop and hold on the muscle for 20-30 seconds. But be sure it's not painful. Discomfort is as far as you want to go.
Muscle Rolling Stick
A muscle rolling stick has two handles that allow you to get around your body easily. Rolling sticks are great to massage the muscles on your legs especially because you can get leverage with your hands.
To use a rolling stick, follow these steps:
- Firmly hold the handles and position the stick on the tight muscle.
- Slow roll the stick back and forth.
- Apply more pressure by using your hands and arms.
Massage balls are another type of myofascial release tool that comes in various sizes and shapes. Some even have vibrating functions.
Use a massage ball by following these steps:
- Place the massage ball on top of the muscle that's sore or tight.
- Start slowly by rolling the ball back and forth, and in a circular motion.
- Press down harder with your fingers and hands to apply more pressure, but not so much that it's painful.
- Occasionally stop on your tight muscle spot and hold for 20-30 seconds.
Trigger Point Massage Cane
A trigger point massage cane is easy to use and has a handle that allows you to reach areas that aren't easily accessible normally.
Follow these steps to use a massage cane:
- Place one of the massage cane's knobs on the problem area.
- Apply firm pressure so there's discomfort, but not pain.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds and Release the pressure.
An alternative method is to slowly move the cane knob back and forth over your pressure area for extra stimulation.
A massage wheel will stretch the muscles in your back around the spine. These will work great for reducing tension and pain in your upper back, lower back, neck, and shoulders.
Use a massage wheel by following these steps:
- Place your back on the massage wheel so that it's between your shoulder blades.
- Slowly roll back and forth on the massage wheel by using your legs. Bend and straighten your legs to more easily roll.
- Hold on problem areas for 20-30 seconds.
- Continue rolling for relief.
Massage guns can be used for a variety of muscles for deep-tissue massage, especially in the back, shoulders, legs, and arms. But it can cause damage if used improperly because most have high-intensity levels.
Use a massage gun by following these steps:
- Gently place the nozzle on the tight or sore area that's not on a bone.
- Starting with the lowest intensity setting, place the head and gradually move it around the tight area.
- Slowly increase the intensity as you need, but stop when there's pain.
Don't use the massage gun for more than a few minutes each time, up to 3 times a day.
Acupressure mats are the easiest myofascial release tools to use because you are just lying down on them.
Follow these steps to use the acupressure mat:
- Choose a flat surface, like the floor or bed. Lay the acupressure mat down on it.
- Lie down on the acupressure mat for 15-20 minutes to start. As you grow more comfortable with the plastic stimulators, increase the time up to 40 minutes.
Learn more about How to Use an Acupressure Mat on different body parts.
A cryotherapy massage roller ball will take the longest to use because they need to be in the freezer first. But the roller balls are easy to use.
Follow these steps:
- Place the cryotherapy massage ball on top of the tight or sore muscle, or inflamed area.
- Slowly roll it around the tight area.
What Are the Benefits of Myofascial Release Tools?
Myofascial release tools offer many benefits. Some of the main benefits that these tools provide include:
- Relax Tense Muscles - This tool helps relax tight muscles, tissue, and knots. It also helps reduce stress and tension in your body.
- Increase Flexibility - When you're tense, your muscles become stiff and inflexible. Using a myofascial release tool helps loosen them up and makes them more flexible.
Reduce Pain and Soreness - Loosening tight muscles and tendons will reduce the pain and soreness you feel from them.
Improve Blood Circulation - The blood flow increases in your body when you use a myofascial tool. This improves circulation which helps prevent injuries and illnesses.
How Do You Prevent Injury with Myofascial Release?
Myofascial release will help to loosen tendons, ligaments, and muscles to help prevent injury. More scientific research needs to be done in this area.
It's still a good idea to warm up and stretch before and after engaging in physical activities. That will help to prevent injuries as well.
When using myofascial release tools, be sure to also not overuse or apply too much pressure to prevent injury. You should feel discomfort when using a tool, but not pain. If you feel pain, you should stop immediately so you don't injure yourself.
Is myofascial release safe?
Yes, myofascial release is safe for most people. If you have certain medical conditions or injuries, you may want to avoid myofascial release because the additional pressure can potentially cause more harm.
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about whether or not myofascial release would be right for you.
Can I do myofascial release every day?
Yes, you can do myofascial release every day. In fact, it's recommended to do it every day or several times a week for the results to last. But there's no need for long sessions each day. Depending on how you are performing myofascial release, a few minutes to 40 minutes per day would be more than enough.
Do massage guns help with myofascial release?
Yes, massage guns can help with myofascial release. They allow you to target specific areas of your body like your neck, shoulders, back, arms, and legs. Massage guns have become a very popular tool with athletes and with people suffering from fibromyalgia or sciatica.
How do you self-release myofascial pain?
Self-release myofascial pain with your fingers and hands, or with myofascial release tools. Use your fingers on the trigger points giving you trouble. Apply firm pressure on the pressure point and gently massage it to release the tension.
Using tools such as foam rollers and massage guns are also great ways to self-myofascial release. Tools can make the tension release easier and faster than using your fingers.
- Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/myofascial-release-tools
- Good Housekeeping: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health-products/g36752230/best-myofascial-release-tools/
- VeryWellFit: https://www.verywellfit.com/best-recovery-tools-for-athletes-4771853
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/myofascial-release-tools