Top 11 Best Massage Sticks and Foam Rollers for Running

Runners enjoy the feeling of a great workout, but they also suffer from sore, tight muscles. Sometimes more serious injuries can occur, and precautions should be taken by massaging tight muscles and recovering from workouts. Massage sticks and foam rollers are a great way to help with all those problems. Fortunately, there are many options available for runners.

Why You Need a Massage Stick or Foam Roller

A massage stick and a foam roller are both self-massage tools that can help prevent many common running injuries such as muscle pain or strain, stress, spasms, tension and cramping, trigger points, and muscle fatigue. Other injuries runners tend to get are shin splints, and plantar fasciitis, all issues that could be prevented by a massage tool. A massage stick or foam roller can also increase the range of motion and flexibility and promote running recovery. A massage stick may also be called a running stick, as they are commonly used by runners.

It works well for both experienced and non-experienced athletes. For runners, this form of self-massage helps with running recovery. You should not use a massage stick or foam roller on bones, joints, or your lower back because it could cause bruising, muscle spasms, or other problems. If you need something to help with those areas use a hot or cold compress on those areas instead.

Before purchasing one of these massage tools, you need to think about what parts of the body you will want it for. You also need to consider if you intend to travel with it and how much pressure you are looking to get from it. All these decisions will determine if you should purchase a massage stick or a foam roller, as they have different benefits and options.

Massage Sticks vs. Foam Rollers

Massage Sticks and Foam Rollers both aid in recovery, but approach this via different capabilities.

Massage Sticks

A massage stick is smaller than a foam roller and is shaped kind of like a rolling pin. It is made up of a bar with one-inch rollers attached. The rollers help it move smoothly over the body. This massage stick also bends a little, so it conforms to the body. You must use your hands to push the stick into your muscle and is good for rolling across the muscle for a general muscle massage. A massage stick works well on smaller areas like the neck and upper back, but it usually used on the leg muscles. It comes in different lengths and is small enough that it’s convenient for traveling.

A massage stick will easily fit in your gym or travel bag and the size makes it possible to use it while sitting down in a car or other cramped space. You can use the massage stick when you are standing, kneeling, sitting, or laying down or you can also have someone else use it on you, which is not possible with a foam roller. A massage stick will usually hold up for a long period of time, while a foam roller may break down more quickly.

Foam Rollers

The foam roller is generally bigger than a massage stick, but they do come in different sizes. They come with different textures on the outside, or you can get one that is smooth on the surface. The ones with knobs or ridges on the outside offer more pressure than the smooth ones and can target more trigger areas. You can choose if you want firm or soft, depending on how much pressure you need. A foam roller can also be chosen based on the size, which just depends on personal preference and if you want to massage your entire back at one time.

A foam roller requires you to use your body weight for pressure on the muscles, with the foam roller on the floor. It is good to use on specific trigger points because it gives more pressure than a massage stick. The foam roller works well on the hips, shoulders, and other large areas of the body. It is preferred when a full body massage is needed with more pressure. You can choose your foam roller from different firmness’s and it will be convenient for use at home or at the gym since it isn’t as easy to travel with as a massage stick.

Top 11 Best Massage Sticks and Foam Rollers

With the above things in mind, here are 11 of the best massage sticks and foam rollers, listed in no particular order:


The Stick Travel Massage Stick

The Stick Travel Massage Stick is 17 inches long and very lightweight. It is mostly used for legs, so it may speed up muscle recovery, but it can also relieve the muscles in your neck and back. This massage stick has eight spindles on it to target all the muscle groups and it is flexible, so it may contour to your body. The only downfall is that it probably won’t do much to relieve the larger muscles.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Has eight spindles

Cons

  • Not ideal for large muscles

Tiger Tail Massage Stick – Roadster

This massage stick comes in three different sizes. It is lightweight, so you can take it with you anywhere. The Tiger Tail Massage Stick gives a deep massage and helps get blood and oxygen circulating through knots in the muscles to offer relief and recovery from cramps and spasms, pain, and stiffness. Recommended by physical therapists and chiropractors, The Tiger Tail Massage Stick is used by many athletes. This massage stick can be washed with spray, cleaning wipes, or just soap and water, so it is easy to clean up. The downfalls are that it doesn’t bend so it is not possible for the massage stick to contour to your body and the price is a little high compared to other roller sticks that are similar.

Pros

  • Different size options
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Doesn’t bend
  • High price

IDSON Muscle Roller Stick for Athletes

This massage stick is only 17.5 inches long, so you can take it with you when you are traveling. It helps with painful muscles after a run and speeds up the recovery. with nine spindles, it should target different muscle groups at the same time. Unfortunately, there is no texture on the spindles, so it doesn’t add much to the massage. There is also no bend to the massage stick, so it doesn’t contour to the body.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Has nine spindles

Cons

  • No texture on spindles
  • Doesn’t bend

Supremus Sports Muscle Roller Stick

This roller stick is 18 inches long and helps ease the pain in your muscles after a workout. It can be used before a workout to increase circulation before you even start, which prevents injuries from happening. The roller balls on this massage stick were designed to be far enough apart that your body hair won’t get caught in it. Some of the negative aspects of this roller stick are that it squeaks when you roll it and the roller balls are made from plastic and not covered in foam.

Pros

  • Roller balls spaced apart

Cons

  • No size options
  • Squeaks when rolled
  • Rollerballs not covered in foam

Elite Muscle Roller Stick

The Elite Muscle roller stick offers quick relief from tense, sore muscles using as much pressure as you decide. This model has handles that are designed to make sure your hands don’t slip while you’re using it. There is a 2mm gap between each rollerball so that your body hair will not be pulled. One benefit you get with this roller stick is that the company provides a website with videos on how to use it after purchase. The downfalls of the Elite Muscle roller stick are that the plastic rollers don’t have foam covering them and this roller stick doesn’t bend.

Pros

  • Non-slip handles
  • Gap between rollerballs
  • Instructional videos provided

Cons

  • No foam on plastic rollers
  • Doesn’t bend

AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller

This foam roller comes in five different sizes and two different colors. The different sizes are a plus because you have the option to choose a smaller one that will be easy to travel with or a larger one to keep at home. The AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller has a bit of a bumpy texture and is very firm. It helps to loosen muscles before a workout and then helps relieve sore muscles after a workout. Using it regularly before and after a workout can help prevent injuries from running. This foam roller also helps improve range of motion and flexibility. The downfalls are that it does not come with a warranty and there is also no instruction manual.

Pros

  • Different size options
  • Multiple color options

Cons

  • No warranty
  • No instruction manual

LuxFit Foam Roller

This foam roller is available in four sizes and three different colors. It helps prevent injury after running and soothes sore muscles. The LuxFit Foam Roller is smooth on the surface, extra firm, won’t lose its shape, and it’s waterproof. A perk of this foam roller is that it comes with a free instructional video. The only con is that you can’t choose a different density. This one is extra firm and you don’t have the option to choose something softer if you are a beginner.

Pros

  • Multiple size options
  • Different color options
  • Waterproof
  • Free instructional video with purchase

Cons

  • Cannot choose different density

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

There are five different sizes and colors of the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller. It provides relief to sore muscles after running and helps prevent injuries. This foam roller is different from other ones because it has a hollow core. The TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller has ridges on the surface which help work out tight muscles. A positive aspect of this foam roller is the many different sizes it comes in. You can choose between 4, 13, 18, 26, or 36 inches in length. The smaller options would be great for traveling. Another pro is that, with the purchase of a TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller, you get to access an online instructional video library that has videos about the best ways to use the foam roller. One negative of this roller, however, is that the price is higher than other similar rollers.


Pros

  • Different color options
  • Multiple size options
  • Has a hollow core
  • Ridges on the surface
  • Online instructional video library with purchase

Cons

  • High Price

Nordic Lifting Foam Roller

This foam roller is 13 inches long and comes in several different colors. It helps relieve muscle tension after running by massaging and stretching the muscles and can help prevent injuries. The textured surface targets trigger areas. Some of the pros of the Nordic Lifting Foam Roller are that it comes with a bag to carry it in and the foam roller does not have inner piping, so it is not likely to break very easily. It can hold up to 500 pounds. The only con is that the price is higher than more typical models.

Pros

  • Different color options
  • Textured surface
  • Comes with a carrying bag
  • No inner piping
  • Holds up to 500 pounds

Cons

  • High price

RumbleRoller

The Rumble Roller comes in three sizes and you can choose between the original and extra firm, with the original option being softer and good for beginners or for those who want to massage soft tissue. You should choose the extra firm option if you are wanting to massage thick muscles such as glutes, hamstrings, or hips. The extra firm option is also good for anyone with dense muscles. This foam roller has firm nodules that are flexible enough to contour to specific areas of the body, relieving muscle pain caused by running. The RumbleRoller is waterproof. The only downfall is the price, which is higher than many others.

Pros

  • Different size options
  • Multiple density choices
  • Firm, flexible nodules
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • High price

ProSource High-Density Extra Firm Foam Roller

This foam roller is great for beginners and advanced runners alike. You can choose from three different sizes. The ProSource High-Density Extra Firm Foam Roller could relieve tight muscles in the back, calves, IT band, hamstrings, lats, and glutes. It is high density, so this foam roller may massage deeper than other rollers. Cleaning the ProSource foam roller is easy. Just spray it and wipe it down. The only negative is that it’s bulky, so it would be harder to carry.

Pros

  • Good for all athletes
  • Different size options
  • High density
  • Easy cleaning

Cons

  • Bulky

Conclusion

Runners tend to get tight muscles after a workout which leads to pain, sore muscles, and injuries. A Massage stick or foam roller may relieve runners of these problems using self-massage, which can increase blood flow to the muscles, improving circulation, and speeding up running recovery. These massage tools are highly rated and effective in targeting the main muscle groups that runners need to have massaged.

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