The 7 Best Foam Roller Alternatives Athletes Swear By
Self Myofascial Release tools come in all shapes and sizes. While foam rollers are an excellent tool, sometimes you need something a little different to target those hard-to-reach muscles. Or maybe you’re looking for a fascia massage tool that takes up less space to toss in your bag while you’re on the go. These foam roller alternatives may be exactly what you’ve been on the hunt for.
The benefits of Self Myofascial Release (SMR) are well worth exploring if you’re searching for ways to jumpstart your workout recovery and mobility.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive run-down of everything you need to know about myofascial release, check out our latest post about how self-myofascial release works and all of its benefits!
To help you find the right tools for your own unique fitness and training goals. We put together a list of seven of the best foam roller alternatives. Each having their unique purposes and advantages to just foam rolling alone.
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Top 7 Foam Roller Alternatives
- Massage Stick
- Thera Cane
- Massage Balls
- Rolflex Arm & Leg Massager
- Percussive Therapy Massage Gun
- Foot Roller Massage Tool
You can use the list above like a table of contents. If one of the tools catch your eye right away, you can click the link and it will automatically scroll you down in the page.
Let’s get started with the first foam roller alternative on today’s list:
1.) Massage Stick
While massage sticks (also called roller sticks) are similar in function to foam rollers, they’re a thinner and smaller option that’s way easier to fit in a gym bag or your luggage while you’re traveling.
The dense plastic used in massage sticks makes them a much harder material than foam rollers, which gives you an excellent way to really dig in the pressure to hit trigger points in sore muscles.
Although the data suggests that foam rolling overall may have a greater effect generally. Massage sticks give you the advantage of added versatility by using your hands to control the tool. It’s what makes it an excellent choice for reaching areas that may be tough to get to with a traditional foam roller and adding or removing pressure whenever you need it.
2.) Thera Cane
The Thera Cane massager’s unique design makes it a powerful tool for applying deep pressure in nearly every hard-to-reach place on your body.
It can be challenging to target certain areas of your neck, back, shoulders, and arms with a traditional foam roller. The Thera Cane massager’s six strategically placed treatment balls and its curved shape make it especially suited for all of the hardest places to self massage.
The sustained pressure from the massage cane helps maximize oxygen flow and release the trigger points, fascia, and muscle knots that cause discomfort and keep your body tight and tense.
Although most athletes find the Thera Cane especially useful for the neck and back – its uses span across the entire body. The package in the Amazon link comes with 12 pages full of instructions for every muscle group imaginable.
3.) Massage Balls
Massage balls use the same gravity-powered technique as foam rolling. But instead of distributing the pressure over a larger surface area, massage balls concentrate that pressure to a much smaller point.
Adding a massage ball into your training and recovery can be as simple as tossing a few lacrosse balls into your gym bag. Or better yet, you can get your hands on more robust devices designed with deep textures for added deep tissue massage.
The smaller size of massage balls compared to foam rollers allows you to hit those difficult-to-reach spots like the bottom of the feet and upper back. The concentrated pressure also lets you apply more sustained pressure for longer on the trigger points that give you the most problems.
4.) Rolflex Arm and Leg Massager
Rolflex’s Arm and Leg Massager takes a unique approach to precisely target trigger point and myofascial release in the arms and legs.
Repetitive sports can cause all sorts of pain and strain on the hands, wrists, forearms, legs, and calves. And finding relief from common ailments like golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow can be just as much of a pain.
Rolflex’s adaptable design allows you to dial-up or let off on the pressure, making it an excellent tool for improving mobility and working on trigger points for the long run.
5.) Percussive Therapy Massage Gun
Massage guns put the power of percussive therapy into a small handheld device you can take with you anywhere you go. They’re a versatile tool with some fantastic benefits for the full range of workout recovery, mobility, and improving athletic performance.
Although there are less expensive options on this list than most quality massage guns on the market – it’s hard to match the results they can bring when used correctly.
If you’re just getting started in self-myofascial release, it’s probably best to begin with some of the less expensive options in this list. You’ll still get tons of benefits from them.
But if you’re someone who’s serious about taking the benefits of SMR to the next level, your massage gun will start being your best friend.
We have an entire article dedicated to how percussive therapy works and the long list of benefits they provide. Check it out if you’ve been considering investing in one for your gym bag.
6.) Foot Roller Massage Tool
Finding a roller that effectively works your feet is always a challenge. Your feet have a unique shape and unique needs, so if you have myofascial pain, cramps, or other issues with your feet – you’re going to need a tool designed to work the foot.
The shape of a foot roller massage tool allows contact with the whole arch of the foot, and the nubs on the surface create additional acupressure while you roll.
A foot roller might be a niche tool that only applies to some. But for those looking for myofascial release in the foot, it’s a tool that’s excellent to have at your disposal when you need it.
7.) Vertiball Precision Massager
The Vertiball takes the concept of a massage ball for enhancing pressure and adds in the functionality to mount the device on a vertical surface.
Just like massage balls have the added benefit of concentrating pressure compared to a foam roller, the additional stability and mounting options of the Vertiball gives you a dynamic tool with pinpoint precision and the ability to add and remove pressure when needed.
Its unique design allows you to finally get to all of the hard-to-reach areas on the body that would usually require the help of a second person. And due to its unique vertical mounting technology, you aren’t relying on gravity’s constant pressure but have the ability to change the pressure used instantly using the force of your body.
If you want a more in-depth dive on the Vertiball. Take a look at our full writeup on the unique benefits of the Vertiball precision massage tool.
Final Thoughts on Foam Roller Alternatives:
As always, before starting any new fitness or recovery protocol, suspect an injury, feel any form of pain, or have significant immobility, you should always begin by talking with your doctor or preferred healthcare professional right away.
This list is an excellent collection of tools you can use as an alternative to foam rollers if you’re looking for unique applications in your myofascial release work.
If you don’t have a foam roller and are in a bind, there are also all kinds of tools laying around your house that might be able to get the job done. A rolling pin, metal water bottle, or even a piece of PVC pipe from the garage might do the trick in a pinch.
If you’re still trying to evaluate whether a foam roller or one of these alternatives is the right tool for you, check out our post on how to pick the right foam roller. It can help you narrow down what your goals are and which roller would suit you best.
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