There’s nothing quite like heading to a professional massage therapist for a relaxing massage, but we don’t always have the time or the money to make that appointment.
For easy at-home massage, a massage ball can be a great alternative. If you’re not sure where to start, the internet can be overwhelming with the amount of information it provides, so we’ve made it a bit easier to choose the best massage ball for the type of massage you’re looking for.
Keep in mind that these are just a few of the products available on the market – we’ll go more into detail on that in a moment.
- Lacrosse Massage Balls by Athletic Muscle
- TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball
- Active Pro Zone Therapy Ball
- Mandela Yoga Massage Ball
- Knotty Body Massage Therapy Balls
What To Look For In A Massage Ball
There are hundreds of different options on the market, so it should be easy to find one for your massage needs.
The things you should be looking for might include:
- Size – Massage balls come in a variety of sizes, from golf ball sized (42.7mm) to high-bounce ball sized (100mm.)
- Weight – Heavier balls are often solid and provide a more even pressure than hollow or inflatable balls.
- Shape – Round balls are the most common but for pinpoint massage or acupressure, shaped balls might be your best option.
- Grip – This is important if you’re using your massage ball on a slippery surface. A tennis ball, for example, would slip and slide on a wooden or tile floor, and that kind of defeats the purpose of the ball.
- Hardness – While harder massage balls are good for most cases, you might need a softer one for injured or particularly painful spots.
- Surface – Smooth surfaces provide a good general purpose massage. Massage balls with nubs on them can be good for activating acupressure points.
Now that you’ve got a basic idea of what to look for in a massage ball, how do you choose the best one for you?
How to Choose The Best Massage Ball For You
Before you choose a massage ball, ask yourself this: what hurts? What parts of your body are going to benefit the most from this unique tool?
Lacrosse balls, a firm medium sized 63mm ball, are a good general purpose massage ball and work well for most parts of the body.
For targeted massage, such as on the hands and feet or difficult to work knots, smaller firm balls like those used for golf work well.
For larger areas, such as the chest and shoulders, a larger ball (like the 100mm one that we mentioned earlier) is ideal.
It might take a bit of trial and error to find the massage ball that works perfectly for your needs. Experiment with balls of different size and density to help you figure out which one works best for you.
How To Use A Massage Ball
Using a massage ball allows you to massage any achy points on your arms, back, neck, or other parts without needing to make an expensive appointment with a massage therapist.
source: ROM Fit
It is very similar to foam rolling, which is popular with yogis and fitness enthusiasts, but it allows you to target problem areas rather than massaging large areas.
To use a massage ball, you simply need to place the ball between your sore spot and a hard surface like the wall or the floor.
Then press against the ball, and roll it over the sore spot until you’ve worked out the knots or are feeling less pain.
If a text explanation doesn’t help, there are plenty of videos for everyone from beginners to experienced massage ball users to help you get started.
Benefits Of Using A Massage Ball
Aside from the obvious benefits of pain relief and reduced muscle soreness, self-massage or self-myofascial release, has a variety of scientifically proven benefits, including:
- Increased blood flow – utilizing a massage ball can help improve blood flow to affected areas of the body. Knots in your muscles can actually reduce blood flow, making it harder to heal sore spots or injured areas. Improving that blood flow encourages healing and helps keep your muscles healthy.
- Improved range of motion – A massage ball can also help you improve your muscular range of motion without reducing your strength.
- Improved immune response – A recent study showed that the participants who received massage therapy showed an improved immune response after just 12 weeks of therapy.
- Improved mood – Dopamine and serotonin are important for mental and physical health. Massage has been shown to enhance the effects of dopamine and serotonin.
- Improved nerve function – The benefits of massage on neuropathic pain(nerve pain) have been studied extensively, and professional massage is often used as a treatment option for nerve pain.
Just make sure that you’re not feeling any sharp pain or experiencing any bruising when you’re using a massage ball. That John Mellencamp song “Hurts so good,” should be your theme song when it comes to using a massage ball.
What Do You Need To Do Before Using A Massage Ball?
Massage balls can be a great tool for just about anyone. If you’re being treated for a spine-related injury or problem, you should consult with a medical professional before attempting any sort of myofascial release.
The same rule applies if you want to use massage balls for pain relief after an injury. Checking with your doctor is always a good rule of thumb before you start any new treatment plan.
Now we’ve come to the heart of the matter. Here is a detailed look at the 5 products that we listed in the beginning of this article.
Lacrosse Massage Balls by Athletic Muscle
A regulation lacrosse ball is the go-to massage ball for most parts of the body, and the pair of lacrosse balls by Athletic Muscle are a great choice. Regulation lacrosse balls are firm, ideal for pinpoint massaging of tight muscles throughout the body.
They’re also small enough to hold or store in a bag or purse for a massage on the go, unlike foam rollers which can be large and ungainly.
- Ideal for self-myofascial release/deep tissue massage
- Improves muscle soreness and pain
- High quality regulation lacrosse balls.
- Perfect for massage at home or on the go
- Firm balls that might be too hard for beginners
TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball
Foam massage balls are softer than their lacrosse or tennis ball counterparts, making them ideal for beginners or for people recovering from an injury that might need a softer massage ball.
These foam balls come in two sizes, a 2.6” ball for targeted massage and a larger 5” ball for massaging larger areas such as the chest and back.
- Two available sizes to accommodate a variety of needs
- Slightly softer, good for beginners
- Easy to clean
- 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.
- Foam might be too soft to provide pinpoint accuracy
- Foam may not hold its shape under weight
Active Pro Zone Therapy Ball
Tennis balls and lacrosse balls are the most common balls recommended for massage therapy, but it can be hard to find a ball that falls in the middle between the two. The Therapy Massage balls by Active Pro Zone fall perfectly into that ‘in the middle’ zone.
They’re sturdier than the squishy tennis ball but not as firm as the lacrosse ball. If you’re in need of a massage on the go, these massage balls come complete with their own mesh bag that fits neatly in your purse or gym bag.
- Medium-firmness ball, useful for all massage needs
- Mesh-bag included for massaging on the go.
- Lifetime guarantee
- Might be too soft for all applications.
- Larger than lacrosse balls, could be awkward or difficult to use for pinpoint accuracy
Mandala Yoga Massage Ball
These yoga massage balls aren’t just for yogis. These massage balls are firm, approximately the same size as standard lacrosse balls and ideal for working out knots in those tight muscles.
The balls themselves are solid rubber, so you don’t need to worry about them losing their shape due to use. Though smooth, the balls don’t slide away when used with a smooth wall or floor. The balls come in a set of 2 and are easy to store or transport.
- Firm balls, ideal for massaging knots and sore muscles
- Smaller than standard lacrosse balls (closer to racquetball size)
- Set of two
- 30 Day Money Back guarantee
- Could be too firm for beginners or people recovering from injury
- Can be awkward because of their small size and difficult to use.
Knotty Body Massage Therapy Ball
When it comes to self-massage balls, the massage therapy balls by Knotty Body are a great choice for beginners and people who need a softer but still firm massage ball.
These tennis ball-sized massage balls are a good choice for beginners or people who might need a softer massage because harder lacrosse-type balls would cause pain.
- Soft but firm tension
- Solid construction – won’t flatten like hollow tennis balls or foam balls
- 2.5” diameter, easy to use and easy to store.
- 30 Day money back guarantee
- May be too soft for people looking for firm pinpoint massage
Massage balls are a fantastic way to ease your sore muscles, improve your range of motion and work those knots out. So, who’s the winner of our massage-ball roundup?
Rolling It Up
🙂 (Pun intended..cheesy, I know)
It comes down to the specific type of massage you’re looking for, but the overall winner has got to be the Lacrosse Massage Balls by Athletic Muscle.
Their solid construction provides the ideal firmness that will help you work out all those uncomfortable knots without losing its shape.
It’s the best choice for anyone who’s looking to branch out into world of myofascial release/deep tissue massage.