Whether you suffer from a long-standing sports injury or have joint issues that flare up in the cold weather, the best massage tools of 2023 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 2023 ranking
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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!
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.
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
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.
The Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs dynamic compression boots can shorten recovery time by targeting specific sore spots in the legs. The user-friendly interface makes it easy to initiate a session, and thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, you can fine-tune your recovery sessions to your liking.
The maximum pressure of the boots could be higher to entice pros to use the device, but for everyday recovery, the 100 mmHg max output should do. This pressure is more than enough to soothe the tired legs after an extensive running or cycling session, but not so much to help completely eradicate the effects of DOMS after a brutal leg session in the gym.
The Normatec 3 Legs sit somewhere between the Therabody JetBoots and the Recovapro Air compression boots – they are as user-friendly as the former and have a similar design to the latter. If you like the sleek design of these compression boots, bt all means, choose them over the competitors, especially if you find a good deal online.
Read our full Hyperice Normatec 3 review
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.
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.
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.