The best personal massage tools | Theragun, Pulseroll, Tiger Tail and more

Creative ways to relieve tension without paying for a masseuse
The best personal massage tools

At a time where many of us have spent months away from other people, the concept of self-massage has become increasingly important to ensure we can stay injury and pain-free. And when we say '"self-massage" we're talking about massage tools used for relieving muscle pain – just to be clear.

Whether it's due to issues caused by training or just because you've spent too long in the same position without moving or stretching, there are many benefits to forming a personal massage routine. It's also a lot cheaper than paying for massage appointments.

When we're stationary for too long, or we've been training hard, our muscles and fascia (the outer lining of muscles - think of it like a sausage casing) can tighten up. This can form trigger points that limit mobility and can cause aches, pains and contribute to more serious injuries.

Massage tools are designed to apply pressure to problem areas which then send a signal to your brain to relax the tissue and leave you feeling more like yourself (if a little bit sore in the meantime).

There are absolutely tons of personal massage products out there, from high-spec options with vibration and rotation features to the much more basic - and with price options for all budgets. We've compiled this collection of the best devices out there, with picks suited to all sports from running to triathlon to CrossFit.

Here are some of the best massage devices available at the moment to get your tension-relieving skills on point.

BEST ON TEST: Tiger Tail The Long One

Tiger Tail The Long One

If you have a love-hate feeling with the foam roller, prepare yourself for an even bigger rollercoaster relationship with this tool. The Tiger Tail is like a high-tech rolling pin, designed for releasing your muscles rather than getting your Bake Off going on.

The black mid-section moves independently of the handles, so you can simply roll it up and down your muscle group of choice. Being lightweight and slim, it means you don't have to climb around on the floor or manoeuvre yourself about with your upper body to roll - you can hit pretty much any muscle while sitting or standing.

It's especially handy for rolling your shins, which are a serious challenge to do on the ground. The entire Tiger Tail is 18 inches long with a 10-inch massage surface, but it comes in longer and shorter versions too. A good choice for runners and cyclists due to its ability to focus on the leg muscles.

Roll Recover R8 Plus

The idea behind the R8 Plus is to provide a convenient way for people to carry out deep tissue massage without having to roll around on the floor. The result is a device that may look slightly alien at first glance but makes rolling your extremities very easy.

The two rollers on either side of the R8 Plus act as a clamp around the legs or arms. Just pull the arms apart and close them on the area you want to focus on, then all you need to do is move the device up and down. Simple.

You can adjust the pressure of the two rollers by turning the dial at the top of the R8 Plus, with a wide range of levels to suit each individual user. At an additional cost, you can also pick up variations on the roller inserts in case you want to increase or decrease the depth of the massage.

In testing, we've found that the R8 Plus works best on the larger upper leg muscles. The fact that you can apply pressure to both sides of the muscle at the same time makes for an intense massage, as well as saving valuable time when you could be doing something more enjoyable.

Aptonia 4-Knob Massage Tool

Aptonia 4-Knob Massage Tool

Yes, it may look like debris from an alien crash site, but this cheap little piece of kit is an incredibly useful thing to stick in your gym bag for when you need to delve deeper into relieving muscular tension.

Unlike a foam roller, the somewhat unnerving shape means that it can be used in a variety of different ways to target specific points of the body. For beginners, holding it in one hand and applying pressure to relieve pressure allows the level of force to be easily modified. For more advanced users it can be placed on the floor with the weight of the body applied above.

Considering it's about the same price as a cup of coffee, it's a great value tool to have at your disposal for times when you need some help hitting the spot.

PhysioRoom Peanut Ball

PhysioRoom Peanut Ball

This handy tool is essentially two balls fused together like a peanut shell. You might wonder whether there's a vast amount of difference between this and a regular massage ball when it comes to functionality - there actually is.

The small space between the balls means you can hit awkward areas without knocking any bones in between - think massaging the muscles either side of your spine or in your forearms. It's also great for working knots out of your lower back - the symmetrical design means you don't have to worry about rolling off it like you would a single ball.

Ease yourself onto it on the floor for back muscle release, pop it against a wall for work on your neck and shoulders or rest it on a table for a forearm massage.

Thera Cane

It looks like a plastic walking stick or some sort of pull-up device, but this is actually the Thera Cane. It's unlike any massage device you've seen before, but it's actually a very simple, smart design that allows you to use the hooked end to hit any tight spots or trigger points and release them with ease - with as much or little pressure as you need.

Designed by a chronic pain patient recovering from neck surgery, it's ideal for necks, backs and shoulders, and is much less demanding to use than a foam roller. The shorter hands and knobs can be used on more easily accessible muscles, like those in your arms and legs, for a full-body release.

66fit Acupressure Trigger Point Massage Balls

66fit Acupressure Trigger Point Massage Balls

This triple pack of massage balls vary in firmness depending on the intensity of massage you need. Each is 6cm in diameter, so ideal for hitting tender spots on your calves, lower back and glutes - just roll over them or hold them on trigger points as you would a foam roller. You'll find a ball so much easier to work into tight glutes and hips than a foam roller.

If you need to work on your shoulders, chest or upper back, pop one of the balls against a wall and rest against any tight spots. Again, these are great for runners to loosen tricky muscles that tend to overwork, such as the tensor fascia latae (sounds like a Starbucks order, is actually the muscle at the top of the IT band).

Try using them to loosen up for a warm-up or incorporate them into your post-run recovery routine.

Pulseroll Vibrating Peanut Massage Ball

Pulseroll Vibrating Peanut Massage Ball

Another peanut-shaped tool, this massager is about 18 centimetres long and uses vibration to release tension and improve blood flow to muscles. Roll up and down on it as you would a foam roller, lay it on top of a muscle group or pop it against a surface to apply pressure to one particular area.

It has four vibration levels so you can alter the intensity to suit your needs/tightness/pain threshold as necessary.

This latest version comes with a remote control for you to change the speed with, meaning you don't have to hop on or off whenever you want to adjust it, plus it has around a three-hour battery life so you can fit in a few solid recovery sessions on it.

It's suitable for pretty much every area of the body and is used by athletes in all kinds of sports, including runner Eilish McColgan, climber Shauna Coxsey and UFC fighters Dan Hardy and Rosi Sexton.

Naipo Neck and Back Massage Pillow

Naipo Neck and Back Massage Pillow

This isn't soft and plush like your average pillow, but it's a lot better for getting your knots out. This Naipo device features four massage nodes that rotate to relieve tension.

Designed for the back and shoulders, put it behind you on a chair or sofa and lean back into it to feel the nodes - you can put more or less pressure on it depending on how deep a massage you want. The nodes change direction each minute to give your knots a thorough pummelling, plus there's an option to let them heat up to 40 degrees C to boost blood flow.

The pillow plugs into the mains and can be adapted for use in the car (though Naipo are pretty firm on the fact that you shouldn't use it while driving). If you're not feeling up to rolling about with other tools for the rest of your body, you can use it to massage your calves and hamstrings by gently resting them on the nodes - just don't put too much pressure on the device.

Theragun G3PRO

It looks like a power tool, but you won't be getting any DIY done with this monster. The Theragun works using percussive therapy, meaning the arm impresses into your muscles with quick pulses - 40 per second, in fact - for an intense massage treatment.

The G3PRO comes with six different attachments for the massage arm designed to hit different parts of the body, such as the 'Large Ball' for big muscle groups, the 'Thumb' for your lower back and trigger points and the 'Dampener' for tender spots.

While it packs up to 60lbs of force, this model is much quieter than previous versions - great for night-time muscle release or to generally avoid irritating the neighbours. This is the highest spec version and is designed for pro-level use (there's also the premium G3 option which comes with four attachments, and the Liv version which is single-speed with two attachments).

It's at the high end of the price range for personal massage devices, but as a favourite with pro athletes like CrossFitter Mat Fraser and US Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long, its credentials thoroughly back up the price point.

Golf balls

Golf balls

Yes, really. You can go as high tech as you like with massage tools, but when it comes to certain areas a golf ball will do you just perfectly. They're the ideal size for getting into your plantar fascia (the fascia in your heels and the soles of your feet), a must for runners, hikers or anyone who works on their feet a lot.

Alternatively, if you practice a sport with a lot of grip strength involved - think climbing, CrossFit and gymnastics - then these are great for massaging out your hands and forearms. This is a 12-pack, so you can roll to your heart's content - or alternatively, share them out with your friends. What says "I care about you" better than a small portable massage device, right?!

Main Image credit: Theragun

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