Self Myofascial release is one of the most popular recovery methods for fitness enthusiasts.
Among the most common reasons, self myofascial release techniques are popular because they help increase recovery, decrease tension and tightness, and rid the muscles of soreness.
321 STRONG Foam Roller
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Acumobility Back Roller
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Percussion Massage Gun
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Keiba Massage Lacrosse Balls
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4KOR Fitness Ultimate Massage Balls
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Sportneer Muscle Roller Stick
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Spiky Massage Ball
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Trigger Point Wand
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Top 8 Best Self Myofascial Release Tools
Check out our below list for a summary of our results. Keep on reading to learn more about myofascial release tools! There’s a lot to learn!
- Foam Roller
- Back Roller
- Percussion massage gun
- Lacrosse Balls
- 5″ Mobility Ball
- Massage Roller Stick
- Spiky Massage Ball
- Trigger Point Wand
In this article, you’ll learn what self myofascial release is, the benefits of doing it consistently, and how often and when you should do it after your workouts.
At the conclusion of the article, we’ll review the popular self myofascial release tools.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Self Myofascial Release?
Self myofascial is a big word and offers great benefits for fitness athletes and CrossFitters.
But what is it?
To start, let’s break it down by word:
“Self”– Obvious answer here- to perform by yourself.
“Myofascial”– Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds our muscles, bones, nerves and organs.
“Release”– relieving or letting go of, in this case, tension
Combined, you have a self-induced form of recovery that relieves or releases tension from the fascia surrounding your muscles.
As points of restriction or tension build up in the fascia, muscles begin to feel tense, tight, or even painful.
By applying pressure with different self myofascial release tools (found below), you can decrease the points of restriction, increase blood flow to help with recovery, and increase range of motion.
Self Myofascial Release Benefits?
The benefits of self myofascial release for fitness enthusiasts are strong and pretty well documented.
As you’ll find in the next section, you can really use these tools before, during or after your workout, receiving different benefits each time.
The main benefits of self myofascial release are:
- Decrease of tension in the muscles
- Relief of muscle soreness or tightness
- Increased range of motion in the joints
- Increased blood flow to the muscles (which aid in recovery)
- Corrects muscle imbalances
So whether you are on the foam roller or lacrosse ball before your workout, or you’re building ten minutes of trigger point therapy into your recovery day protocol, you can see how your performance in the gym may benefit from self myofascial release tools.
When Should Myofascial Release Be Performed?
The answer to this question is that it depends. But really, anytime you use myofascial release techniques, you can’t go wrong.
The most common times to perform self myofascial release are before and after a workout, as well as on rest or recovery days.
Before a workout is a great time because of the increased ROM and increase in blood flow, which will help your muscles feel warm prior to exercise.
At the completion of a workout is also good, as this is an opportune time to decrease next day muscle soreness, correct any imbalances that spawned from your workout, and decrease tension.
Especially if you had a tough workout, self myofascial release will help the rest of your day go by with less pain or soreness.
And finally, an easy way to accelerate recovery would be to use any of the self myofascial release techniques or tools below. Spending even 5-10 minutes focusing on key body parts is a great way to get you ready for your next training session.
How Often Should You Do Myofascial Release?
The easy recommendation here would be to perform self myofascial release either daily, on training days, or whenever (and wherever) you are feeling tight.
It might be easiest to pick a pre or post workout routine (like the one below) and stick with it on every training day.
Alternatively, it might be better for you to keep a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or other tool at home to be used in the event that you wake up particularly sore or tight from a training session.
A Sample Myofascial Routine
Here’s an easy self myofascial release routine that anyone can follow before a workout or on a rest day:
Routine (5-10 minutes):
- 30 rolls on the foam roller- lower back, upper back, left and right hamstring, left and right calve, quads
- 30 pectoral rolls with a lacrosse ball
- 2-3 minutes of trigger point therapy on the 3 tightest areas (common spots include your scapula, IT band, and traps)
Top Self Myofascial release Tools Reviewed
Here are 8 of the top self myofascial release tools reviewed for you, along with ideas of how to use them:
Foam rollers were all the rage when self myofascial release first got popular, and there’s a reason for it.
You’re able to take care of big groups of muscles all at once, and done correctly, you’ll increase blood flow to the targeted areas.
This particular foam roller is light weight, with a hard core. The bumps on the roller mimic the fingers of a masseuse or a therapist.
And if you’re really on a budget- and open to experimenting- make a stop at Home Depot and pick up a fat piece of PVC pipe.
It might take you a couple sessions to get used to the rigidness of the pipe, but it serves the same purpose as the foam roller does.
This is a must have for CrossFit athletes because it can really help various muscle groups recover faster if used habitually. Lastly, this brand has made it easy for you to make it your own with the sheer number of colors and designs available. It is unlikely to be accidentally swapped by someone if you take it to a studio with you.
For more on foam rollers, how to use them, and more options, check out our detailed review here.
Best used for: lower back, upper back, hamstrings, quads, calves
Back Rollers are similar to the foam rollers but designed for more control and stability for certain muscle groups. It was initially invented by a chiropractor for supporting natural spine movement, and enhancing your overall flexibility and mobility.
This back roller is durable and made from high quality, tough foam and is able to support up to 1,000 lbs of weight. So no need to worry about bending or breaking by pushing yourself against it.
The roller is 7.5″ in width which should comfortably provide stability to any human back. The stability is key here in creating a natural and precise targeting of the para-spinal muscles.
The patented staggered bump pattern also creates the feel of a therapeutic deep tissue massage pressure.
Best used for: Neck, Upper and Lower back. But can also be used for glutes, and lats.
A percussion massage gun can be a great alternative or supplement for foam rolling, or pretty much any other myofascial release tool. It’s flexibility in different massage heads is what makes it so unique in its ability to target any muscle group on the body.
It is battery powered and provides up to 56 lbs of pressure so you can target any part of the body with the pressure that you need and at the speed that you want. The 5 different pulsating settings give different massage sensations kinda like when a masseuse uses the side of their hands to tap on your muscles at different speeds (knows as tapotement).
The percussion massage guns takes the self myofascial release tools to the next level with its vibration therapy.
For more on percussion massage guns, check out our detailed review of this product here.
Best used for: Pretty much muscle group on the body; make sure not to use it on bones.
The cheapest option you will find, don’t sleep on lacrosse balls as one of the best self myofascial release tools for the smaller muscle groups that a conventional foam roller can’t hit.
Pro tip: Keep 3 lacrosse balls in your bag. 1 single one for the “nooks and crannies”, and then duck tape two lacrosse balls together and use that for your thoracic spine.
For more on massage balls and how to use them, and more options, check out our detailed review here.
Best used for: scapula, thoracic spine, feet, IT band
This nifty little tool combines the best parts of having a lacrosse ball, “rumble roller” style foam roller (spikes) and trigger point therapy. It will reach the smaller muscle groups and can be used to release tension if you’re into trigger point therapy, too.
Best used for: any small muscle group experiencing pain, soreness, or tightness.
While you can certainly use the massage stick on your own, trade a gym buddy 2-3 minutes of roll time on your targeted areas to really relieve the tension you are experiencing. It will work on the soft tissue with its ridges as well as the connective tissue underneath.
Muscle roller stick is good because it is ruthless- if you apply direct pressure, every part of the muscle belly is going to be hit, which will help relieve soreness and correct imbalances.
Best used for: quads, calves, hamstrings, shoulders, arms
Did a workout with 300 double unders in it? Ran 5k? This piece of equipment has your back.
You can relieve tension and perform small trigger point therapy on hard to reach areas, including the bottom of your feet.
Best Used For: People experiencing plantar fasciitis swear by these things, too.
What looks like a lopsided cane is actually a comprehensive design of a tool that performs trigger point therapy on every area of your body.
The basis of trigger point is that you hold tension on the sore or tight area for several seconds, then release it all at once, hopefully providing some relief.
Best used for: back, neck, shoulders
As an athlete you have to take care of yourself if you want to improve your performance. Or even if you want to stay at the same level, taking care of yourself means not letting yourself get injured. A sore muscle is good to have when it tells you how well you worked out yesterday, but it can be bad when it prevents you from working out tomorrow.
Make sure you are using a self massage tool like the ones listed here so that you are not letting tight muscles cramp up, or tighten over time that can have bad repercussions for your fitness level. Stay focused on your goals, but make sure they include keeping those muscles loose and healthy with a good amount of blood flow.
Lastly, make sure you are warming up and cooling down always. These techniques all go hand in hand.