Best massage tools 2022 to release muscle tension and speed up recovery

From sports injuries to aches and pains; tackle those sore spots quickly and effectively with these home tools

best massage tools: Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots in use
(Image credit: Therabody)

Whether you suffer from a long-standing sports injury or have joint issues that flare up in the cold weather, a simple massage tool may be all it takes to ease the pain and loosen up those muscles. 

We've compiled a list of weird and wonderful massage tools that may look more like torture devices, but we promise they will work wonders on those little niggles that you can't seem to shake. 

Most tools are relatively small and easily portable for use at home, in the office, or on the go. Some work as a deep tissue massage, and others target pressure points to relieve stress and tension. These tools are geared towards fitness use – if you want something more soothing, head to our best massager article.

The best massage tools include foam rollers, massage guns and massage balls which can be pressed against the affected area to smooth out any knots. For a more intense massage, there are several electronic massage tools on the market that are great for a professional back, neck and shoulder massage. 

Best massage tools to buy right now

Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Best massage tool overall (also great for recovery)

Specifications

Best for: Runners and cyclists
Type: Pneumatic leg sleeves
Designed for: Legs

Reasons to buy

+
Highly portable
+
Speeds up running and cycling recovery
+
Helps you relax and de-stress after a long day
+
Easy to clean and maintain

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulkier than other massage tools
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You can buy 100 cheap foam rollers for the price

A fully wireless device, the JetBoots' pumps are integrated into the bottom of the boots. Previous models, and even the Prime and PRO models, use a separate compression unit to pump air into the boots.

The pumps use pneumatic compression, a form of pressure massage in which a garment completely covering the legs inflates and deflates in a cyclical pattern. The process is said to "flush out" fluids containing metabolic waste and ushers in fresh, nutrient-rich blood to the limbs, as the official Theabody communication explains. 

One of the most significant innovations of the RecoveryAir range is said to be the FastFlush Technology that can complete one entire cycle in just 60 seconds (in lower compression settings), which is two to three times faster than other pneumatic compression boots.

The JetBoots also have a more hygienic design that uses non-porous medical grade material combined with overlapping internal chambers that provide one smooth surface - you can wipe them clean with a damp cloth after each use.

Read our full Therabody RecoveryAir Jetboots review

Did you know? The Therabody RecoveryAir Jetboots won the Best Fitness Innovation category at the T3 Awards 2022!

Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller on white backgroundT3 Best Buy badge

2. Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller

An excellent roller for stretching

Specifications

Best for: Gym-goers
Type: Foam Roller
Designed for: Legs

Reasons to buy

+
Soft tissue massage
+
Portable

Reasons to avoid

-
Exercises can be tricky 

This is one of the best massage tools for athletes and avid gym-goers. It’s recommended by physical therapists and coaches for avoiding sports injuries, so If you’re a cardio fiend but always forget to stretch, then the Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller is an essential piece of equipment that will ensure you don’t damage your muscles.  It fits in most gym bags nicely, so there’s no excuse not to use it. 

Theragun Elite massage gun on a white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Therabody)

3. Theragun Elite

The ultimate percussion massager

Specifications

Battery life: 120 minutes
No of heads included: 5
Speed settings: 1750, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2400 percussions per minute
Stall force: 40 lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent built quality
+
Ergonomic handle is best for self-massage
+
Connects to the Therabody App via Bluetooth
+
Custom massager patterns
+
Carry case included

Reasons to avoid

-
 Relatively loud motor

Theragun has been dominating the percussion massager market for a couple of years now and with its latest Theragun range, the brand offers even more versatility to its customers. Of the four Theragun percussion massagers currently being sold, the Elite represents the Goldilocks-zone in terms of features and price: the high-end PRO is more expensive and aimed at professionals while the Prime lacks the OLED screen.

The Theragun Elite offers deep percussion strokes – 16 mm in amplitude, to be precise – and five speed options as default: 1750, 1900, 2100, 2200 and 2400 ppm. These speed options will be more than enough for most users but in case you need some more versatility and would like to set the Elite to 1837 ppm (?), you can do that through the Therabody App.

The Elite connects to the Therabody App via Bluetooth and targeted massage sessions can be started through the app plus you can also update the firmware of your Theragun too. There are quite a few different massaging options available in the app including wellness, sleep and more. Once the Elite is connected to the app, you can control the massager via the phone, such as starting and pausing sessions.

Thanks to the ergonomic handle, the Elite is great for self-massaging and by shifting from one side of the handle to the other, most usually you can find an appropriate position to apply pressure to hard to reach areas such as the shoulder blades and the back of the thighs. The Elite might not have the most powerful motor on the market but it’s plenty good enough for most.

Recovapro Air reviewT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Best recovery tool for preo runners and cyclists

Specifications

Battery life: 300 minutes
Pre-set programmes: 6
Carry case included: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Provides up to 150 mmHg pressure
+
Comes in a handy carrier duffel bag
+
Long battery life
+
Six pre-set modes

Reasons to avoid

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Compresses the foot too much
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Hard to tell how much charge is left in the battery (or when to disconnect the unit from the charger)
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There is no pause option

The Recovapro Air is a great value-for-money compression/recovery tool, best suited for runners, cyclists and triathletes.

The six pre-set programmes and the four overlapping chambers allow athletes to find the perfect mode to ease muscle fatigue and speed up recovery the way they want it. The Recovapro Air is not difficult to operate once you get used to it, and as long as you're happy with the boots putting a little too much pressure on the toes/feet, you will be rewarded with industrial amounts of compression that can surely speed up leg recovery.

Plus, for the reasonable asking price, you also get a carry bag and free delivery, which is not bad if you ask me. I appreciate that buying a recovery tool for this much money is not a thought a casual athlete would ever entertain. Still, those who like to push their limits and train often should consider investing in the Recovapro Air.

Read our full Recovapro Air review

Meglio Lacrosse Massage Ball on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Meglio)

5. Meglio Lacrosse Massage Ball

Best massage ball

Specifications

Best for: Runners and people who sit around a lot
Type: Massage ball
Designed for: Hamstrings, calves, feet

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and portable
+
Inexpensive
+
Carry bag and exercise sheet included

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to use it on back and neck

Massage balls are the smaller siblings of foam rollers and are an excellent tool to relieve muscle tension, especially in the lower half of your body. Sit down on the floor, legs extended, one of them resting on the Meglio Lacrosse Massage Ball, and do either small circular movements or longer strokes to target leg soreness.

The Meglio Lacrosse Massage Ball has a smooth, firm surface so you can apply pressure with it on the leg muscles just by placing the weight of the limb on it, no need to press down. It can also be used on the upper body, especially the front of the shoulders.

Although in theory, even the back and the neck can be massaged with the Meglio Lacrosse Massage Ball, it can be quite challenging to do so, especially if you try to do it yourself. Laying on the massage ball and placing the weight of your upper body on it, it can feel quite unconformable to roll around on it.

This issue can be doctored by getting someone else to work your back with the Meglio Lacrosse Massage Ball, which also makes using this simple device a social activity. On top of this, the Meglio Lacrosse Massage Ball is cheap as chips and also comes with a carry bag and a little exercise guide, too.

Thera Cane on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

6. Thera Cane

Best massage stick

Specifications

Best for: Doctor’s Choice
Type: Massage Stick
Designed for: Hard to reach areas

Reasons to buy

+
Deep tissue massage
+
Targets all areas

Reasons to avoid

-
Tricky to use correctly 

Some may think that £25.00 for a stick is a waste of money, but as a doctor’s recommendation, this is one of the best massage tools for back and neck pain. This handy (albeit, strange-looking) tool is guaranteed to get to those hard to reach pressure points and smooth out any knots. It looks fairly intuitive but there is a knack to pinpointing particular problem areas, all of which are outlined in the instruction manual.  

Anself Roller Massager on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Anself)

7. Anself Roller Massager

Best neck massager

Specifications

Best for: Travellers
Type: Massage ball
Designed for: Back & shoulders

Reasons to buy

+
Travel friendly
+
Cheap

Reasons to avoid

-
Can’t reach smaller areas 

No one sleeps well when they’re not in their own bed. If you frequently travel or even go on camping trips where there is no bed at all, you can say goodbye to a bad back or stiff neck with this portable roller massager. This is a really cheap item that can significantly improve blood circulation in those areas under pressure, with results just as good as if you’d had a professional massage.  

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab).