Massage sticks are affordable massage tools that are easy to mix into your warmup or recovery routines.
The basic massage stick is a rigid or flexible bar that you roll over your muscles, like a small foam roller with handles. Some designs use firm gears or balls to roll across skin, while some have textured sleeves that spin on the main rod.
While powered devices, like percussion massagers, have motors that create the massaging power, massage sticks are more like foam rollers that call on your other muscles to generate force. The self-powered sticks put you in control of how much pressure you put on the muscles you’re massaging, so you can really work your hamstrings if they need it while going easier on your quads, or vice versa.
These massage sticks are lightweight, easy to move and battery free, so you can bring it with you pretty much anywhere you go and it’s always ready to work. Here are some of the best massage sticks you can find:
[This article is part of the Best Massage Tools 2020 Buyer's Guide. Find the right massage tool for all your needs at Fleet Feet.]
Addaday’s Pro Roller is a versatile and powerful stick massager.
The design of the Pro Roller makes it extremely versatile. The set of five rolling gears across the bar makes it easy to take long strokes across big muscle groups, but they also help zero in on small, stubborn spots.
Addaday also made the gears feel different. The two blue rollers are the softest of the group, which are great for more sensitive muscles, and the two gray gears are firmer for a more aggressive feeling.
The small red gear is the firmest of all. Its size and firmness make it ideal for getting into hard-to-work areas, like your shins, shoulders and forearms.
The Pro Roller is rigid, so it won’t flex when you apply lots of pressure. The stiff feel is great for when you want to get deep into muscle tissue.
The TriggerPoint GRID STK is a handheld version of the brand’s GRID foam roller.
TriggerPoint created the GRID STK with a varied, three-dimensional surface for a versatile massage. The middle section employs a grid of slightly pointed squares, and the ends have horizontal lobes. The design is meant to mimic a massage therapist’s fingertips and hands.
Not letting any space go to waste, Triggerpoint also added protrusions to the handles. The bumps help with grip, but they can also be used for deep, precise myofascial release.
The GRID STK is not flexible, which allows you to get the leverage you need to really dig into muscles when you need to.
The Pro-Tec RM Extreme uses a pair of bulbs and a spiny texture to help target different muscle groups and dig deeper into soft tissue.
Pro-Tec engineered the RM Extreme with a rolling sleeve of injection-molded EVA foam. Designers created the mold with a bumpy texture to allow it to press deeper into muscles while still rolling smoothly.
The pair of bulbs in the middle of the stick are space out to allow you to roll around certain muscles, like the hamstrings, or to go deeper; try using one bulb on a muscle for a more targeted feeling.
There’s no flex in the RM Extreme, so you can control how much pressure you want on every pass.
Unlike its rigid sibling, the TriggerPoint designed the STK Contour to flex.
The flexible action allows the massage stick to bend around your body for greater contact on big muscle groups, like your quads and calves. Paired with the spinning discs, the STK Contour can roll uniformly across large muscles or pinpoint small spots.
Slim, motorcycle-grip handles make it easy to hold onto even when flexed, and the knobs on the end of the handles ensure your mitts don’t slip off.