How to Choose a Massager

March 14, 2014

Massagers are great tools for relieving aches and pains, preventing injuries, and for rehabilitation. However, you may feel intimidated when choosing the right massager. In this guide, you'll get a breakdown of popular massagers so you can choose the right one and start relieving pain.

Foam Rollers

Foam rollers are the most popular style of massager. They typically come in long, cylindrical foam shapes. You may be confused by how a piece of foam can apply a deep tissue massage. The process is quite simple! The basic idea is to place the foam roller on the ground and gently roll the sore area of your body on top of the roller. You can also use foam rollers to employ different self-massage techniques. These massagers come in a variety of densities to cater to sore muscles. Here's a breakdown of the types of foam rollers:

  • White rollers: These tend to be the least dense and are great for beginners. It'll be a foreign feeling when you start using a foam roller but this will help acclimate you to the feeling. After using a white roller, beginners can work their way up to denser rollers.
  • Green or blue: These have a medium density. You can try these if you feel more confident, have dense muscles that require a firmer touch, or if you have especially sore problem areas that need to be worked out.
  • Black rollers: Black rollers are the firmest of the bunch. Advanced users and people with especially dense muscles usually opt for black rollers.

  • *Not all foam rollers follow the above color code. It's important to double check the product description to ensure you have the right density for you.

Rollers typically have a six inch diameter and varied lengths. Some can also have flat sides which focus on improving balance. The size you choose depends on what you want to massage. You can choose a long roller for working your spine or problem areas of your back. In contrast, smaller rollers can be used for ankles and calves.

Lastly, your self-massage can be enhanced by choosing a roller with a textured surface. The textured, bumpy surface simulates massaging fingers and will feel great as it works out tight knots. However, it must be noted that pressing sore muscles against a roller will cause slight pain. This pain is akin to the subtle pain you experience when stretching sore limbs. It should never be intense and if so, you should consult your doctor.

Miscellaneous Massagers

Although foam rollers are the most popular, there are other types of massagers available. Some come in travel sizes and others focus specifically on certain body parts. Here's a list of massagers you may encounter:

  • Massage balls: Typically made out of wood, these are great for massaging sensitive parts of your foot such as the arch and forefoot. The hard wood acts as a deep tissue massage and can reduce foot pain. Runners may find these particularly useful. In addition to wood massage balls, tennis balls make great massagers! You can roll one back and forth or in a circular motion against tense areas like thighs, calves, and shoulders.
  • Mini massagers: These come in many styles. The most notable style features a small flat surface with small spheres or bumps jutting out. With the bumps facing down, you massage tender areas like shoulders and legs. Much like the textured surface of a foam roller, these bumps will enhance your massage experience.
  • Massage sticks/balls: These resemble sticks and usually have mild padding around the middle. Similar to foam rollers, sticks and bars are rolled onto the tender areas. However, this is a more handheld massager. To use, you hold each end of the massager with a hand and firmly roll it over sore areas. You can choose how much pressure you want to apply. These are great for hard to reach areas and can be used at different angles.

Relieve Pain and Recover

Self-massage is an important concept to learn if you're an athlete or just have sore problem areas. There are no rules as to when you should use your massager. Massagers are especially important if you've ever had any type of injury and need to be treated. Feel free to use it before working out to relieve any tension, after working out to help muscles recover, and any other time you deem necessary. You'll feel great after and ready to tackle anything!

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