Top 3 Go-To Tools for Muscle Recovery
Proven picks guaranteed to get you back in action faster.
Sore muscles are an unfortunate reality for any athlete. There’s just no escaping them, especially when you go hard and give it your all.
On the one hand that soreness might confirm a great workout, but on the other hand it’s also the thing holding you back from your next workout.
And while there’s no silver bullet that offers instant relief, there are a few methods and tools at our disposal nowadays that we know work well at reducing muscle soreness and improving recovery time. New advancements in science and technology have made these effective muscle recovery tools accessible for athletes of every stripe.
So, we’ve put together a list of our Top 3 Tools for Muscle Recovery. The items picked here are tried and true and easy to incorporate into your fitness routines and your everyday life.
Our Top 3 Tools for Muscle Recovery
Recovery-Focused Compression Wear
Foam Rollers & Massage Balls
Massage Guns & Muscle Stimulators
Note: Products listed in no specific order. Featured products are independently selected and reviewed by Compression Athlete. If you purchase through our links, we may earn commission.
1. Recovery-Focused Compression Wear
While you might be aware that compression garments are great for exercising in (we’ve compiled a list of the many benefits here), not as many people know that compression is also great to wear post-activity for muscle recovery.
And this isn’t just hype from activewear brands, there’s actually plenty of science and research backing this up. To understand how it works, check out our post detailing how compression wear helps with recovery.
2XU Elite Power Recovery Compression Tights
2XU is one of the best compression clothing brands out there, known for their superior fabrics and design technology. Putting these qualities to good use, they’ve created a line of recovery-specific compression tights that utilize graduated compression to increase blood flow throughout your legs and boost muscle repair.
The 2XU Elite Power Recovery Compression Tights feature strong graduated compression while maintaining flexibility, breathability, and a lightweight feel. They have a unique over-the-foot design with built-in stirrups for increased venous return, reduced swelling, and faster muscle repair.
2XU tights utilize a comfort waistband, which make them great for extended wear. They’re also constructed with Invista lycra for dynamic, multi-directional stretch, support, and comfort.
2XU Refresh Recovery Compression Tights
Additionally, 2XU has the Refresh Recovery Compression Tights that utilize moderate graduated compression without the over-the-foot stirrup design.
2XU recovery compression tights are designed with a signature Power-Weight-Flex fabric that provides strong compression, a lightweight feel, and maximum flexibility. These tights also have moisture wicking technology and flatlock seams to prevent chafing.
Under Armour Tech Recover Boxerjock
One of the true pioneers in the world of compression, Under Armour, has developed a new line called the Recover Series. The Recover Series utilizes mineral-infused fabric to absorb energy that your body gives off and reflect it back into your muscles and tissues.
This mineral-infused process helps to localize blood flow in the area, which increases oxygenation for improved muscle rebuilding and recovery. From the reviews that are coming in for the Recover Series, we’re seeing lots of athletes comment on being able to tell a major improvement from wearing them.
Under Armour Recover Series
Above, we featured the Tech Recover Boxerjock, but be sure to check out the whole Under Armour Recover Series, which includes joggers, hoodies, jackets, sleepwear, and more.
2. Foam Rollers & Massage Balls
As our collective knowledge of muscle recovery and its importance for athletes expands, we’re seeing the widespread adoption of effective garments and devices by athletes. Foam rollers, in particular, have gone from a helpful extra to an essential tool for many athletes.
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
The TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller is one of the most popular foam rollers available and for good reason. In fact, if you’re an athlete or fitness aficionado, there’s a good chance you’ve seen them around. It has a great look that comes in a variety of colors with a sleek and effective design.
Superior EVA foam for effective treatment
Durable construction for repeated use
Tested to withstand up to 500 pounds
3-dimensional surface promotes blood flow and oxygen
Great for beginner and advanced
The GRID Foam Roller was the first to utilize a firm, hollow core. It also features a patented foam surface with a patterned design optimized to roll tight muscles, knots, and target areas. Sports doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors recommend the GRID Foam Roller for releasing muscle pain and tightness, as well as improving flexibility and circulation.
TriggerPoint MB Vibe
Up next, we have a massage ball called the TriggerPoint MB Vibe that was awarded Prevention’s “2020 Best Post-Workout Massager.” This massage ball utilizes vibrations while you roll for deeper and more precise penetration into targeted muscles. The sphere design allows for multi-directional rolling and is great at loosening muscles quickly both pre and post-workout.
3 Different Vibration Speeds
Made of High-Density Silicone
Sphere Shape for Multi-Directional Targeting
Battery lasts for up to 2 hours
TP Charge Vibe Massage Roller
If you’re looking for a similar option to the massage ball, TriggerPoint also offers a vibrating massage roller called the Charge Vibe Massage Roller that is more peanut shaped compared to the sphere of a massage ball.
Again, similar in nature to the massage ball, so deciding between the two is all about personal preference and which massage therapy techniques you are hoping to replicate. The Charge Vibe Massage Roller utilizes a rolling technique that moves its high ridges from wide (stretch the muscle) to narrow (squeeze the muscle).
3. Massage Guns & Muscle Stimulators
Next up, we’ve got some newer-to-the-game options that have been blowing up in popularity recently. We’ll start by looking at muscle massage guns.
You may have noticed that some massage guns go for upwards of $500. We’re sure these are nice models and we’re all for whatever results in good muscle recovery, but these prices seem a bit too high for us.
While we have nothing against those more expensive options, we’ve found a few great models for half the price that are designed by some of the leading athletic recovery and performance therapy companies.
PlayMakar MVP Percussion Massager
The first massage gun we’ll take a look at is the PlayMakar MVP Percussion Massager, which was nominated “Best Massager of 2020” by Gadgets Reviews. This is a wireless percussion massager that comes with 6 interchangeable attachments that allow you to target specific muscles.
6 Different Intensity Levels: 1200 – 2700 RPM
Quiet Brushless Motor: 45 DB
Deep Massage Percussion Technology: 10mm
The PlayMakar MVP uses percussive muscle therapy to offer deep relief. Its quick, powerful, and low noise strokes increase blood flow to the targeted area on your body for effective treatment. Applying the PlayMakar MVP’s percussion to your muscles will help your muscles relax, loosen up, and perform better, while shortening your overall recovery time.
TriggerPoint Impact Massage Gun
Another great budget-friendly massage gun that’s certainly worth a look is the TriggerPoint Impact Massage Gun. This one also utilizes percussive therapy to increase blood flow to your muscles and increase range of motion.
4 Different Intensity Levels: 2100 – 3300 RPM
Quiet Brushless Motor
Angled handle for balanced weight and control
Battery lasts for 2+ hours of continuous massage
The TriggerPoint Impact Massage Gun has an angled handle design and evenly distributes weight for optimal comfort and control. Its ergonomic shape allows you to better target all areas of your body for deep tissue massage.
PowerDot Muscle Stimulator
Apart from massage guns, there are some great new options in the world of electric muscle stimulation (or EMS). These muscle stimulation products allow you to target specific areas and body parts to relieve pain and improve muscle recovery.
EMS devices work by sending electrical impulses to the targeted muscle, which promotes both Type 1 (slow-twitch) and Type 2 (fast-twitch) muscle fiber contraction. The PowerDot’s technology creates elecro-induced hyperfusion to flush out lactic acid, reduce inflammation, and supply oxygen-rich blood to your muscle tissue—essential for boosting recovery.
Also, it’s worth noting that the PowerDot Muscle Stimulator can help athletes accelerate soft-tissue injury rehabilitation. Its technology is scientifically proven to support the body’s natural ability to recover from muscle sprains, strains, pulls, and knots.
Helpful Tips for Using Muscle Recovery Tools
Remember! Whenever you begin incorporating new muscle recovery tools into your fitness routine, such as the products mentioned above, take a little time to learn the proper use of your new product.
Whenever you begin using new fitness recovery tools, especially if you have any questions or concerns, be sure to consult your physician or physical therapist. Always heed any advice or instruction given to you by a healthcare professional.
Additionally, it’s always a great practice to find some helpful resources and guides put forth by certified professionals to assist your use with these products. For example, if you’ve begun using a foam roller for the first time, learning the proper technique from a physical therapist can help to maximize your recovery.
There are some great resources from professionals available to you for free on Youtube:
Learning the right method will help you avoid common and unfortunate pitfalls that can actually cause more harm than good—like this common foam roller mistake!
And when it comes to utilizing compression garments for your muscle recovery efforts, be sure to check out our guide: How to Wear Compression Shorts.
Can Muscle Recovery Tools Boost Athletic Performance?
Yes, in a number of different ways, muscle recovery tools can boost your athletic performance. What’s so useful about the recovery products listed above is that their use extends beyond just recovery. They can be used for every aspect of your athletic performance: warming up, training, cooling down, recovery, and more.
In the same way that the compression garments and muscle recovery devices increase blood flow to the applied areas for recovery, this process is also great for warming up your muscles pre-activity.
When we’re talking muscle recovery, this can be an important step. Taking the time to properly warm up and cool down will decrease your risk of muscle strain, sprain, and other injury. With less swelling and inflammation post-activity, your recovery efforts will work quicker and have you ready to go again sooner.