The best fitness recovery tools

Many of us were on healthy kicks after the pandemic or just enjoying getting back into the sports and fitness regimes we enjoyed before COVID-19 derailed everything. Then, many of us (raising hands) may have overexerted ourselves.

Unfortunately, a few minutes of post-workout stretching isn’t always enough to relieve the aches and pains of a 5-kilometer journey from the couch. While many popular massage tools have hit the market over the past few years, the pandemic has led to many a search for recovery methods that don’t require a face-to-face encounter with a massage therapist. These tools may not rise to the level of a professional’s hands, but they can help. We’ve researched and tested all of the following selections, including hammer therapy pistols, acupressure tech, and even some analog accessories that don’t require charging.

About Me

I’m not an athlete, but I’ve had several classes in my fitness journey over the years. I have a black belt in judo, and am currently trying to master the backjump. I sweat my way through HIIT and weight training classes five times a week. Because of all of these things, I have my own aches and pains, especially in my knees, neck, and shoulder.

When testing some of these devices, I’ve used them daily for over a week. Depending on the type of recovery tool, I would spend at least 15 minutes targeting the tough areas, along with the extensions. I’ve been using some of these accessories intermittently, like the foam roving, for years.


foam roller

The best fitness tools

ignition point or ignition moment

No shaking function here, just a cylinder-shaped piece of sponge (sometimes plastic or rubber) for you to roll very carefully. I’ve personally enjoyed some relief from my knee issues (along with recovery exercises and physio guidance) and found it helped loosen my tight ligaments.

The great thing about the foam roller is its versatility. There are exercises for the shoulders, back muscles, iliotibial band (IT) and every other part of your leg. Many reels come with basic schemes to try, but you can also follow Many YouTube videos; Just look for a specific narrow area.

If you are new to foam rolling, I suggest this one from ignition point or ignition momentAnd it’s gentler on your delicate muscles than some plastic molding options.

Buy the Foam Roller on Amazon – $35

trigger point massage balls

these rigid massage balls, usually about the size of a tennis ball, provides a trigger point massage that helps treat knots in the scapula, or that tight corner of your butt muscles. Place the ball on your yoga mat (or mat) and place your problem area on top of the ball, using your body weight to apply strength. Relief is not just limited to land. Try placing the ball between your back – or your shoulder – and the wall. There are many guides on the Internet, but this set of balls, with different levels of hardness, should ensure that you feel the pressure at exactly the right level.

Buy Massage Ball on Amazon – $17


This recommendation comes from my colleague Valentina Palladino, who loves This support To improve her yoga habits. Braces are rigid cushions that come in several shapes and sizes that help many yogis maintain proper posture in certain movements, due to a lack of flexibility or minor injuries.

According to Valentina: “While I definitely don’t stretch as much as I should, this support I originally bought just for yoga comes in handy when I’m sitting on the mat for 10 minutes after a run. I mostly use it for back stretches, as I put the brace down my lower back So that I can decompress my spine nicely.

She adds: “There Custom Back Stretchers You can buy that doing something similar, but I’ve become the best bolster for its supportive comfort and versatility. I still use it during yoga sessions as a tool to get deeper into certain movements, and it also provides extra support in sitting postures.”

Buy Support from Amazon – $40

Percussion therapy and massage guns

The best fitness recovery tools

Matt Smith / Engadget

Should you flaunt something more powerful and expensive, though? There is proven evidence that manual hand massage helps reduce pain, but there is less supporting data for many of the benefits that percussion therapy devices claim.

Depending on the company and device, there are some claims (such as improve the performance or range of motion) is supported by small studies, but other studies (including reduced cellulite and accelerated muscle recovery) are not.

Dr. Kelly Starrett, Hyperice athlete performance consultant (and founding mobility expert at CrossFit) told Engadget: “When we try to change the way the brain interprets information from the body’s tissue systems as threatening or unsafe; vibration, rhythm, and even heat can help us feel getting better.”

My own experience tracks with this: Using one with a targeted approach to tight areas feels good and can help you prime your body before a workout without stressing yourself out.

If you’ve seen the Instagram ads, you already know that there are many massage guns to choose from, but our picks come from two of the most prominent players in the industry, Therabody’s Theragun and Hyperice’ HyperVolt series.

Theragon Prime

The best fitness recovery tools

Matt Smith / Engadget

We have touched upon the benefits Theragon Prime before, but it’s the company’s unique triangular design that helps its machines stand out. It offers multiple ways to control the Theragun and help target the toughest parts of the body. As one of the more premium massaging devices you get, you get a 16mm capacity (usually beaten by only a few hundred dollar machines) and speeds of up to 2,400 beats per minute.

The Prime comes with three additional attachments in addition to the standard ball: a cone, a flat head humidifier, and a thumb attachment, which can help dig deeper.

Therabody’s newest family of road therapy devices is also quieter than older Theraguns – and most of the competition – but they certainly aren’t as silent.

Buy Theragun Prime on Amazon – $289

Hyper Volt 2 Pro

The Hyper Volt 2 Pro It has a more traditional design, but I prefer to pinch it to switch between the different speeds. It also comes with additional head attachments, including a fork attachment, flat wedge and padded head.

This is the premium flagship Hypervolt, so it delivers the fastest speeds (faster even than Theragun Prime). However, while it’s also quieter than the Prime, it’s a little more difficult to maneuver into tight, tricky spaces without the help of someone else.

These devices are generally safe in most use cases, but check each company’s safety guidelines pages. It makes sense to speak to your physician prior to use if you are pregnant, have recently had surgery, or have any skin or neurological conditions.

Buy HyperVolt 2 Pro on Amazon – $399


The best fitness recovery tools

Matt Smith / Engadget

Hyperice has also combined its own vibration technology with the targeted comfort of a massage ball. The excessive (And the Hyper Sapphire MiniThree levels of vibration and an easy-to-understand LED reading for measuring battery life and intensity levels. Plus, the shape adds a different degree of versatility, since you don’t need to reach your arm where you might need to rest.

It also has an elasticized layer that helps it stay in place if you are not stretching or massaging on the yoga mat. Notably, the smaller Mini has a more powerful motor and is more comparable in size to a lacrosse ball. Despite having a more powerful motor and nearly identical battery life, it’s more affordable than the larger model. Most will find the Mini to be the better option, but the larger Hypersphere, I found, works well on my lower back and chest, lifting my body off the ground, increasing target pressure.

Buy Hypersphere on Amazon – $99
Buy Mini at Hyperice – $74

body recovery

Therabody, the company behind Theragun, has branched out into several additional recovery products. The company also offers a vibrating roller and foam ball, but RecoveryAir . series Completely different, using controlled pressure to gently massage your legs or arms.

The RecoveryAir system is divided into a lower system (for your legs, from foot to hip) and an upper body system, but the “pants” seem to be the best machine for most muscles, massaging some of the largest muscle groups in your body. They feel especially good after an intense session of squatting or a long run.

While Therabody may be new to compression therapy, science and research has continued for decades, with medical compression garments dating back to the 1950s used to treat conditions that followed the end of World War II.

AirRecover compresses your legs, stimulating blood circulation in the body like — a quote from a Therabody spokesperson — “squeezing a tube of toothpaste.” It’s a feeling of relaxation: AirRecover cycles through stress on your feet, calves, knees, hamstrings and thighs. You can adjust the strength of the pressure and the length of the massage up to an hour. Compared to massage guns and fixed tissue massagers, you’ll get lazier and let AirRecover do the work.

You can just relax on your favorite sofa or chair, and watch Netflix while you squeeze it away. This ease of use comes at a high price, though: $1,299. It’s a bit pricey compared to the other devices we’ve included here, but it’s also a completely different experience and one that is self-guided.

Buy Recovery Air Pro at Therabody – $1,299

All products recommended by Engadget are handpicked by our editorial team, independently of the parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.