The 8 Best Recovery Tools For Athletes of 2020

Recover achy muscles with these helpful tools

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First Look

Best Overall: Hyperice Vyper 2.0 Vibrating Roller at Amazon

"Kicks traditional foam rolling up several notches."

Best Budget: Epsoak Epsom and Magnesium Soak at Amazon

"One of the easiest ways to release muscle tension."

Best Foam Roller: TriggerPoint GRID Original at Amazon

"Designed to channel blood and oxygen to repair your muscles."

Best Massager: Theragun G3PRO at Amazon

"Has six different attachments to create a completely custom massage."

Best TENS Unit: PowerDot 2.0 at Amazon

"The app controls over a dozen EMS programs."

Best for Feet: Gaiam Restore Foot Massage Roller at Amazon

"The raised ball can help relieve plantar fasciitis."

Best for Hands: Gaiam Restore Deluxe Hand Therapy Kit at Amazon

"The kit comes with three massage balls at different densities."

Best for Travel: Yoga Tune Up at Amazon

"Portable, travel-ready myofascial release tools."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Hyperice Vyper 2.0 Vibrating Roller

vibrating roller

Hyperice

The powerful Hyperice Vyper 2.0 kicks traditional foam rolling up several notches thanks to a motor inside that creates a powerful vibration. According to the manufacturer, this device is up to twice as effective as traditional foam rolling and provides an increase in your range of motion of up to 40 percent (compared to traditional foam rolling’s projected 18 percent).

At three speeds, you can choose the right amount of vibration for your muscular and myofascial needs. It's about the size of a traditional, standard foam roller, and the batteries are rechargeable with two hours of use time per charge—plenty of time, given that you don’t want to foam roll for more than 30 to 60 seconds on each muscle area.

This recovery tool is also perfect for travel. The Vyper 2.0 is TSA-approved and ready for takeoff, so you can recover no matter where you’re headed.

Best Budget: Epsoak Epsom and Magnesium Soak

One of the easiest ways to release muscle tension and relieve soreness is a tried-and-true method: an Epsom salt bath. The Epsoak brand doubles down and combines Epsom and magnesium—a natural micronutrient that may help relieve muscular cramping (it’s found in chocolate and bananas).

Magnesium is also known for its stress-relieving properties, which could help you slip deeper into a state of calm as you recover in a warm, soothing bath. This mineral-rich soak is unscented, making it safer and more accessible to anyone with perfume or fragrance sensitivities or allergies. 

Best Foam Roller: TriggerPoint GRID Original

A classic tool that many fitness fanatics turn to is the reliable TriggerPoint GRID foam roller. Regarded as one of the best products for recovery for years, this roller offers the perfect amount of density and firmness. The grid pattern is designed to “channel blood and oxygen to repair your muscles,” while the hollow core keeps the strength and integrity of the roller (and allows you to use it for years).

Different areas of the roller provide different massage-like sensations and densities (for instance, the flat section emulates the palms, while the tubes emulate the fingers). At 13 inches long, it’s large enough to get big sections of muscle tissue like the quads. It comes with a one year warranty, and an instructional video teaching you how to get the most out of your foam rolling sessions.

Best Massager: Theragun G3PRO

We’re all for scheduling an intense, deep tissue massage as often as you can to maintain a healthy body, but you can’t always get into the spa for a couple of hours on a regular basis. To make deep muscular tissue release a reality on a more frequent basis, Theragun created the G3PRO that can blast away even the tightest of knots.

This tool has six different attachments that you can switch out to create a completely custom massage experience based on your body’s needs. It has an ergonomic handle that allows you to comfortably grip the massager, and two percussive speeds to further fine-tune your recovery experience.

Best TENS Unit: PowerDot 2.0

When you can’t get to the acupuncturist or physical therapist once a week, the PowerDot 2.0 helps you fill in the blanks and recover well outside of your sessions with a practitioner. A TENS Unit, which stands for “Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation” uses an electric current to stimulate your nerves in different areas of the body. This is sometimes called “EMS” or “electrical muscle stimulation.”

The PowerDot 2.0 gives you the power of this therapy in the palm of your hand using an app that connects to the physical device. The app controls over a dozen EMS programs, all designed to aid in quick recovery, release muscular knots, improve circulation and muscle strength, and decrease soreness and stiffness.

The PowerDot 2.0 makes something complex completely streamlined and accessible, and it packs away easily into a slim case. Plus, if you end up not liking it, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you peace of mind as you make a big new purchase on a technology that may be foreign to you.

Best for Feet: Gaiam Restore Foot Massage Roller

Massaging your feet can relieve cramped and sore arches, but it also helps restore balance up the entire chain of your body, which affects the tracking of your knees and hips, which in turn affect your overall alignment.

Gaiam created an affordable, accessible tool that helps keep this alignment balanced day in and day out. The raised ball can help relieve plantar fasciitis, but can also be used on other parts of the body, and travels quite easily.

Best for Hands: Gaiam Restore Deluxe Hand Therapy Kit

Do your hands cramp from pull-ups or from gripping the Spin bike handles a little too tightly? Relax your mind while you relax your hands and release muscular tension using these rubber recovery spheres and finger massager. The kit comes with three two-inch massage balls at different densities, as well as a finger massage tool that gets into the tiny muscles of your overworked digits.

Best for Travel: Yoga Tune Up

The Yoga Tune Up massage ball set is portable, travel-ready, and perfect for many types of self-massage and post-exercise therapy. When used together in their mesh carrying bag, these balls are ideal for massaging up and down your spine, neck, and base of the skull.

Use each 2.75-inch ball on its own to get into nearly every muscle group in the body, from the feet upward. Stand on one of the balls while you brush your teeth to improve your posture and release tension each day, or lay on one positioned just above your hip to release the TFL (tensor fasciae latae).

The lightweight massage balls won't weight down your carry-on, and are a perfect addition to hotel workouts or your home gym.

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Article Sources
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  1. Garrison SR, Allan GM, Sekhon RK, Musini VM, Khan KM. Magnesium for skeletal muscle cramps. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(9):CD009402. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009402.pub2