Let’s be honest here, who would turn down the opportunity of a regular professional massage? The problem is, it takes time and money to arrange and for most people, is more of a luxury than a daily event. This is where self massage tools come into their own. They are available, usually inexpensive, and can be very effective in providing you with relief from muscle tension and aches and pains. (Skip to our recommendations.)
Types of Self Massage Tools
There are many different self massage tools, but they can be loosely categorised into “rollers” and “direct pressure”. All have their particular purposes, but in this post, we are going to focus on direct pressure devices that you can use on your back.
What do These Tools Do?
To understand what the direct pressure tools do, you need to have a basic understanding of why particular areas of your back are tender or ache. To do this we need to briefly discuss trigger points.
Muscle knots, sometimes called “trigger points”, are small areas of muscle fibres that cause pain and stiffness. They often impair performance of the whole muscle, which can set off a chain reaction leading to pain in other muscles and loss of flexibility across the whole back (this applies to other areas of the body too, but we are keeping our focus simple here). They are often a factor in general lower back pain and neck pain. The good news is that most of them are easily self treated in the comfort of your home.
There is some controversy about exactly what trigger points are, with varying opinions regarding muscle tension, nerve constriction and myofascial adhesions. What is clearly true though, is that direct pressure to these tender points can bring quick and lasting relief. Any direct pressure can be helpful but some body areas are difficult to reach yourself and that is where a self massage tool becomes very useful.
Self massage can actually be more effective than professional services for relieving these areas of muscle tension. This is because you are able to instantly tell what your body is feeling and adapt the amount of pressure you are applying accordingly. That is not to say that you shouldn’t use professional massagers or other physical therapists – they have training, and have developed skills that are most definitely beneficial – rather, that you can supplement their treatment yourself with self massage tools.
Our Top Picks Compared
There are several variations on the basic form of these self massage tools. The simplest of them have a handle with a hooked section. At the other end of the scale, some models have multiple handles, various “knobs”, and two curved ends. While the simple models generally do work, the top manufacturers have built on this base point to create highly effective tools that offer a lot of options.
The four models that we settled on as our top picks, all combine several key features that represent state of the art ergonomics and functionality. What sets them apart is:
- Multiple grip points (handles)
- Carefully placed massage knobs
- Stiff, strong construction (cheaper models are often lacking here)
- Reputable manufacturers
- Clear instructions
The Body Back Buddy is our recommended product. A huge number of satisfied users have proven its effectiveness. For the relatively reasonable price of $35.95, you get a tool that is well constructed in the USA, carries a life time guarantee, and simply works.