4 Self-Massage Tools for Runners
Being injured is the worst!
In a previous post, I shared my struggle with a nagging 11-month injury that left me with chronic trigger points in my hamstrings and glutes. Through every-other week massage and at home self-treatment (developed in partnership with my massage and physical therapists), I’ve been able to keep my trigger points under control.
My experience with foam rollers has proven to be a huge help. I’m also found several other self-massage tools for runners equally as helpful, although not as common.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert! These are my own personal experiences. There are techniques you’ll want to be familiar with to properly treat an area and limit further injury or damage before you start self-treatment.
Using a massage ball is a great way to bring in the most variety in your self-treatment arsenal. They can be used on almost any area (calves, hamstrings, glutes, back, shoulder, chest) and provide targeted relief of trigger points that rollers just can’t.
- Cost: $20 and $25
- Pros: Comes in two sizes; green (mimics the pressure of a thumb) and red (mimics the pressure of an elbow). Provides pressure that is firm and the fibrous outer layer helps the ball stay in place. Since they’re so small – I keep one at home and work.
- Cons: Can be tricky to use on larger areas as they can still slip away. I’ve found it best to use while sitting at a 90’ angle with something that has a bit of a cushion (like a padded dining room chair, office chair or ottoman).
- Cost: $20
- Pros: Provides a bit more coverage than the smaller trigger points balls and can be used more like a foam roller. It would be great for those who travel.
- Cons: It’s a bit less firm than the trigger point massage balls (which could be a good thing for some). I’ve had mine about 90 days and I could see it breaking down a little quicker as a result of its less dense foam.
Trigger Point Tools
In addition to rollers and balls which great for overall massage, there are self-massage tools for runners (and other athletes) made specifically for trigger point release. If you suffer from trigger points you may want to take a look at these tools in conjunction with “The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief” by Clair Davies and Amber Davies.
- Cost: $18
- Pros: Once you get the hang of this tool – it’s amazing for treating trigger points. There are recommendations for use based on the area you’re working – to get a sense for how to use The Knobble, check out this video explaining trigger points and referred pain in the glutes.
- Cons: To get the best leverage, this tool should be used over clothing or with some sort of lotion or balm. Clothing can get stuck or twisted, so make sure it’s tight clothing, but not too tight your muscles can’t relax. Lotions/balms can make the tool slippery and a bit tricky to use. It takes practice and good instruction to use correctly – but definitely worth it.
- Cost: $40
- Pros: The unique shape allows you to get at different angles a bit more easily than other tools. It’s especially great for reaching back and shoulder muscles.
- Cons: Using your arms (as opposed to body weight) can tire arm muscles and make it difficult to relax into the massage. For me, I’ve found it difficult to use on my hamstrings and glutes.
My overall routine typically involves a roller, a ball AND a trigger point tool. All three used in conjunction have helped me feel less pain and in turn are making me a stronger runner. Work with your chiropractor, physical therapist and/or massage therapist and learn what works best for you and your situation and stick with it.
Share your Experience
What self-massage tools for runners have you found helpful? Leave some suggestions in the comments below.