This is our guide on the best massage tools for knots and trigger points in 2023
The best massage tools will leave your muscles feeling more alive after having used them.
With that comes better mobility, flexibility and a release of tightness in the muscles.
These simple massage tools are often overlooked but they can make a huge difference to your mood in your day-to-day life.
I’ve experienced the benefits first hand and now I’m hooked on trying out the latest and best massage tools on the market.
There isn’t one best massage tool that fits everyone.
There are a variety of things that determine which is the right massage tool for you from the part of the body you are massaging to how intense a massage you need, or if you want electric or manual control.
In this post, I’m going to cover 27 of the best massage tools for self-massage and provide a comprehensive list so you can choose the best one for you.
Let’s get right into the list!
The Best Massage Tools in 2023
Given the overwhelming variety of massage tools on the market, you may be wondering which one is the best.
The truth is, different types of massage therapy tools suit different people based on their unique needs and preferences.
Go through this list and see which one appeals to you most.
The Theragun is one of the most popular massage guns on the market today.
A massage gun is a device that sends pulses of pressure that penetrate deep into muscle tissue.
They’re handheld electronic massagers that hammer away at your muscles, and most come with different attachment heads you can use to target different muscles in your body.
Unlike foam rollers and massage balls, massage guns don’t require the effort it takes to push into muscle tissue with your own body weight.
It’s also easier to get precise and pinpoint specific trigger points.
I find them massage guns are highly effective tools for releasing muscle tension and relieving pain particularly post-workout.
Most massage guns are notably loud when operated, but they are a great option if you want to release tension quickly without having to get on the floor like with a foam roller.
Massage guns also very versatile, with different intensity settings and interchangeable attachment heads.
That being said, the better massage guns can be quite expensive, however, there are plenty of lower budget options to get started with.
Related: The Best Massage Guns
Fitness Cryosphere Cold Massage Roller
Sometimes, your muscles need ice to bring the inflammation down.
The Fitness Cryosphere Cold Massage Roller is a unique tool that works a lot like a massage ball, but it stays ice-cold for 6 hours to provide cold relief.
Besides the cooling aspect, another thing that makes it different from a regular massage ball is that it has a holder that allows you to hold the ball and roll it.
You can roll the ball with accuracy along your muscles while holding it in your hand, instead of having to use a wall or the floor to make the ball roll.
However, you can also remove the ball from the holder and use it like a massage ball.
If you feel like your muscles need a bit of a cool down to help relieve pain, this product is worth a shot.
The PRO-RITE mimics the hand and elbow of a masseuse and is designed to precisely target tense muscles on several areas of the body including the psoas.
Its patented design allows for deeper penetration than other massage tools and it offers trigger point therapy, high-quality recovery, and deep-tissue massage at your convenience.
With this option, you have a masseuse at your service 24/7.
To use the PSO-RITE you lay on it and manoeuvre your body until you find a tender spot. Once you find it you hold on to it and the tightness should release.
The PSO-RITE is a great tool for anyone who wants to apply a lot of pressure and target deep trigger points.
It works particularly well on fleshy areas of the body such as the thighs, hamstrings and calves.
That being said the PSO-RITE is expensive for what it is, which is effectively a piece of plastic with ridges in it.
Despite its high cost, if you have areas of your body that you cannot release the PSO-RITE may be worth a try.
Related: PSO-RITE Review
Roll Recovery R8 Plus
The ROLL Recovery R8 Plus is a deep tissue massage tool that clamps around your limbs which you can then roll up and down to loosen up tight muscles.
I have to say that this device is fast becoming one of my favourite massage tools due to how aggressive it is.
The R8 Plus is designed to be used on the legs from the thigh all the way down to the calves. And it’s the calves and Quads that I find this tool to be most effective.
In the past, I’ve used muscle roller sticks and foam rollers on my calves but never got the deep penetration that I’ve needed.
However, the R8 Plus makes massaging your calves much more effortless as all the pressure is generated from the spring mechanism.
The intensity of the springs can be either increased or decreased using a dial on the frame of the R8 Plus.
You also have the option of increasing or decreasing the intensity as you can purchase either softer or harder roller inserts that can be swapped out.
If you’re looking for a deep massage in your legs and have found other massage tools to be lacking in their intensity this could be the massage tool for you.
Overall the R8 Plus is a super alternative to a foam roller as you do not have to get on the floor to use it.
This makes the R8 Plus a great option for people who want a quick massage on the go.
Related: Roll Recovery R8+ Review
TP Foam Roller
Foam rollers are cylinder-shaped manual tools that break up muscle knots and release fascia when you roll on them.
This tool is your bread and butter of self-massage and myofascial release.
It is the first tool you are likely to use when first starting out. The classic foam roller is extremely versatile and can be used on most parts of the body.
They’re widely used by athletes immediately before and immediately after workouts to support healthy fascia and muscle function.
They may sound like they’d be a soft object, but foam rollers are made with very high-density foam that compresses your muscles very firmly.
In fact, most people experience pain while using a foam roller, which lessens with regular use as the health of your fascia and muscle tissue improves.
Foam rollers are excellent for releasing the fascia of large muscles, particularly in your legs and back.
They’re great for muscle recovery in your legs after athletic activity, and for increasing blood flow in your upper back after long hours at a desk.
Related: The Best Foam Rollers
Gideon™ Neck and Shoulder Self-Massage Tool
The Gideon self-massage tool combines shiatsu massage with a massage stick, allowing you to knead muscles with two shiatsu massage balls when you leverage the stick.
With this tool, you can massage your neck muscles accurately and apply direct pressure.
It’s easy to dig into your neck muscles with this tool, but you would get more versatility out of a massage ball compared to the balls attached to the stick.
This massage tool isn’t going to give you a complete neck massage as I found it only really works on the back of the neck.
That being said, if you are someone who finds relief using a massage ball on your neck, this is a great option because your arms don’t get as tired of holding the ball in position.
This isn’t the best neck massager out there, but it’s cheap and does help loosen the back of the neck up.
Related: The Best Neck Massagers
RENPHO Handheld Massager
The RENPHO handheld massager emits rapid pulses of pressure that stimulate blood flow and relax your muscles.
By increasing circulation and breaking up tension, percussion therapy relieves pain and enhances muscle flexibility, range of motion and performance.
The great thing about this type of massager is that it has a long handle so you can easily massage your own back by reaching over your shoulder with it.
It comes with different attachment heads so you can target different muscle groups around the body like may of the other handheld massagers on the market.
These types of massagers are great options if you need to release tight muscles and tension but feel you are more on the sensitive side.
The massage guns that we’ve covered already (like the Theragun) tend to apply a lot of force that some people may find painful but these types of massagers are a lot gentler.
Percussion massagers offer comprehensive and versatile deep tissue massage therapy, and are often used by massage therapists.
These handheld electric devices provide the perfect combination of manual control over your massage and motorized percussion that penetrates muscle tissue.
The RENPHO massager is a good handheld model to try given its low price.
Related: The Best Handheld Massagers
KOA Elite Trigger Point Massage Tool
The KOA Elite Trigger Point tool is a massage stick unlike any other.
It has knobs and a grip handle which makes it easy to use with control and accuracy on your neck, arms, legs and other areas.
All you have to do is find a trigger point and apply pressure with the tool.
Given that the knobs aren’t that deep this tool is best used around thin muscles like the forearms and pecs. It’s not really going to work on your calves and thighs as these muscle groups are a lot thicker.
The KOA tool is small and light making it a great option if you have to take it with you whilst travelling.
It also has a grip on the handle so it makes releasing trigger points on your body a lot more comfortable than some of the other manual release tools out there.
RAD Atom Massage Ball
Massage balls provide deep tissue massage and myofascial release.
They’re simple, durable and easily portable, but on the other hand, the massage you get from them depends on the work you put in since you have to roll them against a wall or the floor.
Most massage balls available on the market tend to be around the size of a tennis ball.
While this size is adequate enough for most muscles sometimes you need something a little bigger.
I’ve searched for many large-sized massage balls in the past and when I do manage to find one, they all seem to be quite soft in texture often made of foam.
The RAD atom, however, is one of the first larger sized balls that I have come across that is rock solid.
The hard density makes it perfect for upping the intensity, while its larger size helps in fleshier areas of the body.
If you are looking for a large and very dense massage ball the RAD atom could be the one.
It’s worth noting that it is on the expensive side for a massage ball, however, the quality is high and I am confident that it will last a lifetime.
Related: The Best Massage Balls
Rolflex PRO Edition Leverage Foam Roller
The Rolflex PRO is a unique foam roller or “stability roller” that is designed to target more muscles throughout your body than you could with a regular foam roller.
What makes it different is that it has built-in rollers that penetrate muscle tissue, and you don’t need to use your body weight, the floor or a wall to roll them.
You adjust the tool to the desired level of compression and use your hands to move it along muscles.
This tool is very similar to the Roll Recovery R8 plus, however, I’d say the Roflex Pro is better tailored to the upper body.
It has a soft pad at the bottom so you can rest it on your legs to get the leverage you need to work your arms and forearms.
The arms and forearms and notoriously hard to knead out the muscles on so the Roflex Pro is a good solution to this.
It will also help with ailments like carpal tunnel, tennis elbow and tendinitis.
CranioCradle Home Therapy System
The CranioCradle massage tool is a simple fix for people working long hours at a desk, since it’s small, light and easily portable.
It’s designed to relieve tension from your upper and lower back, neck, head and shoulders.
If you suffer from tension headaches or neck and back tension, this could help.
It’s made of firm foam like a foam roller, but there’s no rolling necessary. All you have to do is lie on it and relax.
It uses pressure and compression to release trigger points when you place it in certain positions on your body.
The CranioCradle is great if you suffer from headaches, migraines, TMJ and insomnia.
However, if you’re looking to knead out tight muscles then there are better options on this list.
Dr. Berg’s Self Massage Tool
Dr. Berg’s self-massage tool, developed by a chiropractor to assist with pain relief, massages your muscles with firm knobs that allow you to apply pressure easily.
Similar to the CranioCradle, it’s shaped in a way that it releases trigger points when placed in certain positions.
It has two prongs that you can apply to critical points that can relieve stress and tension throughout your entire body.
It works best on the chest, neck and back areas.
Much like the PSO-RITE already covered in this post, it is expensive for what it is, which is ultimately a piece of plastic.
That being said, many people do see results with this massage tool reporting positive results.
Dr. Berg’s self-massage tool comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee so you could try it out and get a refund if it doesn’t work for you.
Cupping Therapy Sets Vacuum Suction Cups
Cupping therapy works through the suction of small portions of your body to draw blood and muscle tissue to the surface.
It’s like a “reverse massage” because it breaks up tension through suction instead of with pressure.
The suction created by vacuum cups breaks up stagnation, releasing the fascia and freeing tight muscles that are hugging onto the bone.
Fresh blood then enters the area and helps restore optimal cellular functioning.
I’ve tried these myself and to be honest I don’t think these are quite my thing, however, a lot of people swear by these devices.
Silicone cups like those in the Cupping Warehouse TM Supreme set are easy to apply and remove simply by squeezing them.
There’s no pumping or fire needed to remove air from the cups.
If you’re looking for a set to start with then they are a great lower-priced option to start off with.
Related: The Best Cupping Therapy Sets
Addsfit Mini Massage Gun
We’ve already covered one type of massage gun, the Theragun Pro, but I’ve added another one here.
This mini-massage gun uses the same percussion technology to massage muscles as the Theragun except that it is much smaller and portable.
If you’re new to percussion massagers this may be a great place to start as it’s not only smaller than the Theragun but also much cheaper.
Its extra portability makes this ideal for taking with you on your travels and is ideal for those moments when you feel a little tightness in your muscles.
Since it is on the smaller side, it’s not going to do much for you on the larger muscle groups as it simply doesn’t have that kind of power.
However, it does work well on smaller muscle groups.
Personally, I find it works well on the neck, forearm and hands.
Myofascial Releaser Ellipse Pro
You may have never heard of scraper tools or scraping therapy, but if you have any fascia related pain, you should consider this tool.
It’s a hand-held manual tool great to use for myofascial release, soft tissue mobilization and muscle soreness relief.
These kinds of tools are generally used by clinicians and massage therapists to help in instrument-assisted fascias mobilization (IAFM) and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM), however, it is also possible to use these tools for self-myofascial release.
Scraper tools like the Myofascial Releaser Ellipse Pro are the ideal massage tool for myofascial release and is extremely popular among athletes.
If you have a muscle injury, you most likely experience pain related to fascia damage.
Scraper tools release the adhesions in your fascia caused by muscle tension and muscle alignment problems.
The Myofascial Releaser Ellipse Pro is made of bevelled edges that are hard and narrow enough to apply pressure and “scrape” your muscles and fascia.
This action pushes blood out of the area, causing fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients to enter the area and promote healing.
Scraper tools are made with different hard materials, such as hard plastic, jade, stone, copper or stainless steel.
Related: The Best IASTM Tools
Massage roller sticks are a great tool to manually roll out your knots.
The small design makes this a more portable version of a foam roller.
Muscle roller sticks like the RAD Rod provide myofascial release, similar to the way a foam roller works.
Instead of rolling against the floor, however, you can simply roll the massage stick or glide it along your muscles using your hands.
The RAD Rod and other muscle roller sticks are popular massage tools among runners and athletes, due to how quick and easy it is to use after a run or workout session to prevent tight calves.
In general, massage muscle rollers are easier than foam rollers to use on the go, because you can target muscles in a seated or standing position and they’re more portable.
I find that muscle roller sticks work well for the legs, such as the quads and calves, but aren’t that much use elsewhere.
If you want to get started with a muscle roller stick then the RAD Rod is definitely one of the best on the market.
It is much more costly than other models but the higher quality of the RAD Rod is noticeable.
The cheaper models I’ve tried tend to bend and squeak while this is not the case with the RAD Rod.
Related: The Best Muscle Roller Sticks
Bed of Nails Acupressure Mat
An acupressure mat is a spiky chiropractic mat you lay on that stimulates pressure points on your back that are just below your skin.
Rather than massaging muscle tissue, these tiny spikes help correct imbalances in your body’s systems and physiological functions.
As a result, they relieve pain and provide other therapeutic benefits.
Acupressure mats are great for people who want to relieve tension at the end of the day before going to bed but don’t want to put a lot of effort into it.
These spiky mats are virtually maintenance-free and all you need to do is lay on them.
Most people with chronic back pain, neck pain and headaches who try an acupressure mat are surprised with how effectively it relieves pain, especially with regular use.
Bed of Nails is one of the best-recognized brands creating acupressure mats, and their mat comes with a carry case.
They also manufacture special pillows that can be used alongside your spikey mat.
Related: The Best Acupressure Mats
Kieba Massage Ball
The standard small massage ball is a versatile, portable and effective massage device.
Massage balls work like foam rollers, but they help you massage the smaller areas foam rollers can’t reach.
You can use a massage ball on virtually any muscle by using the ball to apply pressure against your sore muscles.
You can also use it against a wall, in your hand or on the floor by rolling on top of it.
You can use most massage balls on any part of the body which is why they are an essential massage tool.
They are particularly effective when used on the neck, biceps, forearms, back, chest, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and feet (practically any body part!).
They come in all different surfaces, densities and sizes meaning you’ll be able to find the perfect massage ball for whatever your needs.
There’s nothing particularly special about the Kieba massage balls and you can use any ball designed for massage and get results.
That being said, the Kieba massage balls have a rubbery texture to provide some grip so the balls don’t shoot out from underneath you or slip out of your hand.
And you get two for the price of one at a low price. They are cheap and most important of all, they are effective.
Related: The Best Massage Balls
MOBOT Foam Roller
Not sure if you should bring a foam roller with you to the gym?
What if it was your water bottle?
The MOBOT foam roller water bottle doubles as a high-quality foam roller.
It’s made with steep ridges and high-density foam and can withstand your body weight pressure without caving.
It’s easy to use as a regular foam roller and can hold up to 27 oz of liquids.
This is a great idea if you want to take a foam roller with you to the gym but want to save space.
Despite it being an efficient 2-in-1 massage tool it does suffer from being a little too small to use comfortably.
If you’re using it on your quads you have to take extra care to make sure you stay on the bottle/foam roller.
If you have the time and space you will definitely want to stick to a regular-sized foam roller, however, if you find yourself on the go and need a quick roll the Mobot will suffice.
Body Back Buddy Self Massage Tool
Massage sticks are versatile myofascial release tools for self-massage.
Most of them have knobs that are designed to help you reach hard-to-reach trigger points on your back, neck and shoulders.
Massage canes are typically shaped like an “S” with strategically placed handles along the design for you to get a good grip.
Multiple knobs and each end of the “S” can be used for myofascial release by pressing the knobs into tender areas on the body.
You can also use the length of the stick for myofascial release on larger muscle groups when you push it along the muscle the way a foam roller would roll.
The Body Back Buddy is one of the most popular massage sticks around.
It is a one-of-a-kind S-shaped massage stick with 11 knobs designed to access every trigger point in the body.
This means if you have a trigger point on any part of your body, the Body Back Buddy should be able to reach it.
I find the Body Back Buddy works best on getting trigger points and knots that are located around the traps.
I still prefer to use a massage ball for the back because you can lean into a ball against the wall and use your own weight to apply pressure.
However, that’s the beauty of the Body Back Buddy, you don’t need a wall to use it.
Once you get over the initial learning curve, the Body Back Buddy can easily become your go-to tool when you have stiffness or pain, because it helps you accurately target hard to reach places with pressure you can control.
Plus, it lets you release more points at a time than you could with a small handheld tool.
Body Back Buddy and Thera Cane are the market leaders when it comes to massage canes.
Related: The Best Massage Sticks
The Davinci Tool Soft Self Massage Wedge
The Davinci tool is similar to the CranioCradle, but with its own unique shape.
It’s made of plastic and utilizes gravity and your body weight to dig into trigger points when you position it properly.
You can use any of the sides for self-massage each having its own unique shape and purpose.
It has a round, pointed and scalloped edge so there’s a lot of versatility with this massage tool.
If you benefit from a foam roller but you wish it could release muscles and fascia in delicate, hard-to-reach areas like your shoulder blades, neck and shoulders, you may like it.
You can use it virtually anywhere from head to toe, and there’s no rolling necessary.
Like with a foam roller, it can be painful. However, the pain lessens with regular use as your muscles and fascia heal.
If you’re looking for a generalised knot release then you may be better off with something like the Body Back Buddy or some other massage tool on this list.
However, if you are more focused on migraine and headache relief then this is a tool that may be worth trying out.
Thumb Saver Massager
The Thumb Saver tool is named after its main purpose, to save your thumb.
Specifically the pain your thumb would experience if it was used as the main method of applying a massage.
The Thumb Saver massage tool provides an ergonomic grip with a thumb-shaped knob you can use to dig into tight muscles the way you would use your own thumb.
Of course, it applies a lot more pressure than you could achieve with your own fingers, and it saves your joints from the wear and tear of self-massage.
The Thumb Saver is made of plastic and great to use with massage oils. It’s also very cheap which makes it a relatively risk-free try.
This tool would be most recommended to anyone who uses their own thumb a lot to apply a massage, whether that be on yourself or someone else.
Rumble Roller Beastie Ball
The RumbleRoller beastie ball gives you the benefit of foam rolling, but with deeper and more targeted penetration.
Unlike a regular massage ball, it has ultra-deep ridges with bumps that dig deep into your muscles and open up the fascia.
The other thing that makes it unique is the base it comes with.
When you place the ball on the floor using the base, it won’t roll away while you compress a muscle onto it.
It should be noted that the Beastie ball is very intense and is best for knot release, as there’s no real benefit to rolling on top of this ball.
I found that even with a base the Beastie ball is quite difficult to place directly on top of specific knots you are targetting.
Instead, I found it’s far better at targetting knotted-up areas rather than a specific trigger point.
Related: Beastie Ball review
Neck Track Massager Tool
The neck massager tool uses a foam block, massage balls, and gravity to gently release sensitive trigger points in the neck.
This multi-tasker can also be used for other body parts in addition to the neck.
The main selling point of this tool is that it holds your massage ball still rather than having it roll around everywhere.
It also raises the massage ball off the floor which can help the massage ball to dig into fleshy areas more easily.
This raised platform is particularly useful for sinking the massage ball into the back of your neck, which can help with migraines and headaches.
This massage tool is a little expensive, especially considering it doesn’t come with any massage balls, however, it can help create new angles for your massage ball to get into new areas of muscles that it couldn’t before.
RAD Peanut Massage Ball
The peanut massage ball (otherwise known as the double lacrosse ball) has a double ball design that provides stability and accuracy for myofascial release all over the body.
The small design is great for people who travel and need a lightweight, portable massager.
The peanut massage ball is often one of the most underrated massage tools.
Most will have come across this tool for running down either side of the spine, which it works well for, but it also works well for other body parts.
For example, it is great for running down the length of your quads, calves and even around the hip area.
It provides a different type of pressure that is two-pronged rather than the standard one-pressure spot from a normal massage ball.
If you like regular massage balls and haven’t tried a peanut massage ball, you’re missing out!
Read: The Best Peanut Massage Balls
TheraFlow Dual Foot Massager Roller
The Theraflow foot massager is an example of a ‘foot roller’ massager, which is a wooden roller with small pegs for a deep-tissue massage.
This model is designed specifically to help with plantar fasciitis and trigger points in the feet.
Foot rollers are designed to be placed on the ground.
You then, sit down and gently roll feet back and forth over the massager, stopping for several seconds on any trigger points.
This massager has no give because it is made of wood, so “tread” gently.
If you need to loosen up the muscles on the soles of your feet and suffer from plantar fasciitis, this massage tool is worth a shot.
It’s low-cost, effective and simple to use.
Related: The Best Foot Massagers For Plantar Fasciitis
There are a variety of tools that don’t fit into a specific category other than looking ‘weird.’
These tools come with pointy ends of different lengths, shapes and sizes designed to reach deep trigger points around the body.
Funny name aside, the Jacknobber tool is a handy little massager for myofascial release.
This is discreet enough that you can keep it at your desk at work.
As handheld massagers go, this does not require much grip strength and can be pressed down using your hand rather than having to lie on it.
This tool is best used for the less fleshy areas of the body, such as the neck, arms and forearms.
If you are someone who finds releasing knots and tight spots with your finger effective, then the Jacknobber tool can be used in place of your fingers and prevent them from tiring out.
This section covers some frequently asked questions regarding massage tools.
What are the benefits of massage?
Here are the main benefits you can gain from massage therapy:
a) Prepares your body for exercise and helps prevent injuries
b) Helps your muscles recover faster from exercise
c) Reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
d) Relieves muscle pain and tension
e) Improves your range of motion
f) Increases circulation
Which massage tool is the best?
Finding the right myofascial release tools for your body is easier said than done.
Different trigger points can be harder to reach than others and may require a tool that is a different shape and level of firmness depending on where the trigger point is located.
For instance, you can use a foam roller to hit trigger points on your calves, however, for some people, a massage ball is more effective as a massage ball can sink deeper into the muscle.
In addition, the more you perform myofascial release, the more likely you’ll find that the tools that used to work for you aren’t as effective.
As time goes by, you’ll discover new trigger points that are located deeper in harder to reach locations thereby requiring new tools in order to reach and release them effectively.
A large part of finding the right tool means trying a lot of different ones and sticking with the ones that work for you.
In conclusion, there are many types of tools for myofascial release. Choosing the right one for you may take some trial and error.
Use our guide above to help you get started.
What is myofascial release?
In its simplest form, myofascial release is the technical term for a form of massage therapy that is meant to make connective tissues (fascia) looser and more flexible, this results in relieving tightness and pain in your muscles.
Repetitive motions or injuries can cause the fascia around your body to tighten up and cause “knots” or “trigger points”.
A large part of myofascial release includes targeting these trigger points and keeping steady pressure on them to help release them.
What do myofascial release tools do?
Deep tissue massage and myofascial release using myofascial release tools have immense benefits for your muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves.
The therapeutic value even extends to your entire body because of the way it improves your circulation.
Myofascial release restores the health of your fascia, allowing it to function properly and prevent adhesions, tension and other sources of muscle pain.
Do myofascial release tools work?
Myofascial release tools do work are much better able to massage some parts of your body than your hand.
What tools can be used for myofascial release?
All kinds of tools can be used for myofascial release.
See our guide above to find a suitable tool for your needs.
What tools do massage therapists use?
Massage therapists use all kinds of tools. Particularly popular are IASTM tools.