The Best Massage Balls for Targeted Muscle Relief

Sometimes a relaxing massage is not enough to help when your muscles are in knots.  You need to dig into the muscle to get relief. Of course, you could go see a massage or physical therapist, but that’s costly and not practical on a daily basis.

Don’t worry though, it is possible to get relief on your own at home.  You just need to try myofascial release therapy with a massage ball. Even if you are not in pain, using a massage ball regularly can help your muscle performance. 

Let me tell you more about myofascial release therapy, why you need a massage ball, and help you choose the best massage ball for your body.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

What is Myofascial Release Therapy?

Myofascial Release is a safe and effective technique that involves applying sustained pressure where the connective tissue is restricted to eliminate pain and restore motion.  It can also improve flexibility and reduce muscle fatigue.

Remember, if you have an injury, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional for guidance on the best treatment.

Why Should You Buy a Massage Ball?

A massage ball is the most effective way to get to those hard to reach areas and target deep muscle knots.  It can enable you to perform myofascial release therapy in the comfort of your own home without spending a fortune. 

hands holding four spiky massage balls

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Can You Use Any Ball?

You may have lots of different balls at home - baseball, tennis ball, golf ball, etc - so you might be wondering if any of these can be re-purposed to be used as a massage ball.   Yes, some sports balls can be used as massage balls too.

The best sports ball to use as a massage ball is actually a lacrosse ball.  It is hard and dense and won’t soften under pressure. While a lacrosse ball massage will be painful at first, you should start to see the difference quickly. Click here to see the lacrosse ball options available on Amazon.

Some people use a tennis ball for this purpose but it’s not ideal because it slides around too easily.  Still, if you have a tennis ball at home, it might be worth trying to see if it works for you.

Massage Ball vs Foam Roller

A massage ball works similarly to a foam roller.  Both are great tools for myofascial release therapy, so you might be wondering which one is best for you.

If you have never done myofascial release before a foam roller will likely provide enough muscle release for you.  The problem is, at some point, you will probably need something with a smaller surface area so you can sink deeper into muscles to get relief.

foam roller

We think that a massage ball is better than a foam roller because it can hit smaller trigger points.  Additionally, it is easier to take a massage ball with you when you travel, as most foam rollers will not fit easily in a suitcase.

Benefits of Using a Massage Ball

We have talked about the benefits of regular massage before, but I wanted to share more about why you might want to choose a massage ball compared to another type of tool:  

  • Massage balls are more effective at isolating problem areas in your body and enabling you to make permanent changes to increase your flexibility and reduce pain.
  • You can target hard to reach areas on your own at home.
  • After regular use, you will notice decreased muscle tightness, improved range of motion, and better muscle performance.
  • Those that use a massage ball are less like to have post-workout muscle fatigue or pain.

Keep in mind a massage ball is not going to give you a relaxing massage.  If you are looking for stress relief, consider getting a massage chair, foot massager, or handheld massager instead.

The Best Massage Balls on the Market

Now that you understand why you need a massage ball, it’s time to figure out which one to get.  Massage balls are not all the same. Let’s take a look at some of the top massage balls available today.

The highest-rated massage balls are summarized in this table and each one has a more detailed review below.


Brand

Key Features


Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls

  • Simple but does the job
  • Inexpensive
  • Available in a few colors

TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball

  • Softer than lacrosse ball
  • Good for those new to using massage balls
  • Washable

Master of Muscle Store Spiky Massage Ball

  • Has spikes for deeper massage
  • Comes with eBook about Advanced Massage Techniques

Core Prodigy Cherry Bomb Roller

  • Can be microwaved to provide heated massage
  • Made from all natural materials

Kori Cryosphere Cold Massage Roller Ball

  • Can be used hot or cold
  • Made from stainless steel and insulated with gel

TuoFang Vibrating Massage Ball

  • Has vibrating feature that will help to loosen your tight muscles
  • Four modes
  • Soft silicon skin

Gillsun Fitness Massage Ball Set

  • Includes a 5-inch EVA mobility ball, 2.5-inch by 5.5-inch peanut ball, and a 2.5-inch rubber lacrosse ball

  • Comes with travel bag too

Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls

Physical therapists often recommend using a lacrosse ball to perform myofascial release.  If you don’t already happen to have a lacrosse ball lying around and would like one to use as a massage ball, check out this lacrosse ball. 

It is available in a few different colors.  This lacrosse massage ball is inexpensive, durable, and comes with a guarantee.  It is the best lacrosse ball for massage. If you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, you can return the Kieba Lacrosse Balls within 30 days for a no-questions-asked full refund!

Click here to check the price and read more reviews.

TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball

This massage ball is ideal for those that feel like a lacrosse ball is too firm.  It’s not quite as firm as a lacrosse ball but it’s not as soft as a tennis ball. There are two different options for both size and firmness level.

Customers like how this ball feels almost foam-like. It’s ideal for massaging areas that are delicate or surrounded by bony joints or for those just starting to use massage balls.  The TriggerPoint ball is durable, washable, lightweight, and slip-resistant.

Click here to check the price and read more reviews.

Master of Muscle Spiky Massage Ball

If you are looking for an intense massage, this spiky ball is for you.  The spikes help the ball reach deeper for more tension release. It’s ideal for a foot massage to help with plantar fasciitis and sore muscles.

This spiked ball is made of durable, firm solid rubber to withstand any bodyweight. It comes with a downloadable Ebook to help you learn Advanced Massage Techniques.  Master of Muscle also offers a 100% no-questions-asked replacement or refund warranty, so you can try the ball risk-free.

Click here to check the price and read more reviews.

Cherry Bomb Roller by Core Prodigy

This massage ball can be microwaved so that it provides a heated massage.  Combine the heat with a firm ball to target the deepest muscle pain in the shortest amount of time.  It won’t soften under pressure and can be used on most surfaces without slipping or damaging the ball.

The Cherry Ball is made from all-natural materials and is non-toxic.   It’s small (2.5 inches) in diameter, lightweight, portable, and will provide years of trouble-free use. If you can tolerate the brief amount of pain, a Cherry Bomb Roller massage is an excellent way to release tension and help muscle performance.

Click here to check the price and read more reviews.

Kori Cryosphere Cold Massage Roller Ball

This is the ball for those that like to use both ice and heat therapy as treatments. It’s made from stainless steel and insulated with a gel to help maintain the temperature.

Cold or ice therapy can help to numb pain and reduce inflammation.  With this Cryosphere Ball, you can combine the cold therapy with myofascial release for quick muscle recovery.  

If you want to use this smooth massage ball cold, just stick it in the freezer for two hours.  Once you take it out, it will stay cold for six hours! Just remember you should not use frozen roller directly on wet skin.

You can also use this ball heated by placing it in hot water for 10 minutes.  Then, remove it from the hot water and let it cool to the desired temperature before using it.

Click here to check the price and read more reviews.

TuoFang Vibrating Massage Ball

This is more than just your average massage ball.  It has a vibrating feature that will help to loosen your tight muscles.  Of course, you can also use this massage ball without turning on the vibrations.  

This massage ball has four modes: light, medium, high, and variable speed vibration. It takes about two hours to fully charge, which will last about 90 minutes.    You can only use the vibration feature for 12 minutes at a time so to prevent overheating there is an automatic timer to shut it off.

It’s on the larger side (about 4 inches) so it’s better for larger muscle groups.  The TuFang massage ball has a soft silicone skin to make it comfortable and durable. 

Click here to check the price and read more reviews.

Gillsun Fitness Massage Ball Set

If you want to target various areas of your body, you will need different massage balls.  Gillsun Fitness has put together a set that covers it all. It includes a 5-inch EVA mobility ball, 2.5-inch by 5.5-inch peanut ball, and (for a limited time) a 2.5-inch rubber lacrosse ball all for one fabulous price.  Plus, they come with a travel bag so you can take the balls with you on the go.

The unique design of the Peanut Ball (also called a double massage ball) cradles the spine, perfect for targeting upper back, neck, and scapula.  Then you can reach the other areas of your body with either the large or small ball.

Click here to check the price and read more reviews.

What is the Best Massage Ball?

It’s hard to choose one massage ball that will be the best for everyone.  It depends on what part of the body you are looking to target and other personal preferences.  

The Best Massage Ball for Feet

Master of Muscle Spiky Massage Ball

If you need an intense foot massage, this is the ball for you. Customers rave about the difference this ball has made especially for their plantar fasciitis.

The Best Massage Ball for Back

Gillsun Fitness Massage Ball Set

With the large ball and peanut ball, you are well-equipped to treat your back pain. For a limited time, the set includes a small ball too as a bonus.

The Best Overall Massage Ball

Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls

You don’t necessarily need something fancy for plantar fasciitis. The lacrosse ball has the ideal combination of firmness, weight, and surface texture. Plus, it is affordable.

How to Use a Massage Ball

Massage balls are simple to use.  All you need to do is place the ball between your body and something hard and stationary like the floor or a wall.  Then you can either move back and forth to roll the muscle or stay still and work a specific pressure point.  

Alternatively, you can use your hand to press and roll the ball in the area that needs attention.  This will not be as intense as using your body weight and gravity.

Check out this video for some ideas on exercises that you can do with a massage ball.

What to Look for When Choosing a Massage Ball

What makes a ball good to use for a massage?  First, you need to think about how you plan on using the massage ball.  Then, consider these factors when you choose a massage ball.  

Size

The size of the massage ball determines which areas of the body it can be used on.  You need to think about where you plan on uses the massage ball and then buy one that is appropriately sized.

In general, look for a smaller massage ball (with a diameter around 1-2 inches) if you want to target small areas of the body, such as the hands, the soles of the feet, and the forearms. You will want a larger massage ball (with a diameter around 4 inches)  for large muscle groups like the hamstrings, glutes, back, and chest.

RELATED: The Best Hand Massagers: Reviews & Buying Guide

Surface Texture

Massage balls come in a variety of surface textures.  You can find balls with raised bumps or spikes which can mimic the fingers of a professional masseuse. Some people prefer balls that are smooth because the massage is a bit less intense.  

Whether you choose a smooth or bumpy ball, make sure it is easy to clean and won’t slip on hard surfaces. If the ball is too slippery it will not stay in place and may even slip out under you. 

Hardness

The firmness of your massage ball affects the intensity of the massage. Injured tissues will always need softer massage balls.  Also, as the health and flexibility of your tissues improves, you’ll want to use harder massage balls over time.

Weight

In general, massage balls don’t weigh that much.  Look for a solid ball that is on the heavier side because it is more likely it is to stay where you put it.  The solid balls also deform more predictably when you put your weight on them.

Durability

We talked about how it is important that you use the massage ball on a regular basis, so you are going to need a ball that is durable.  You want a massage ball that will keep its shape. It shouldn’t split or deteriorate until you have had it for at least a few years.

lots of colorful massage balls

Other Features

The industry has developed some additional features that can be found in the higher-end massage balls.  I see these features as bonuses. You can still get an effective massage using a simple ball, but it is nice to have these additional options.

Some balls have a vibration feature that can be turned on and off.  This makes the ball more like other massagers you might be used to. Keep in mind, you will have to remember to charge the massage ball before you can use the vibrating feature.

If you like to use heat or cold therapy, there are some balls that can be heated or chilled before use.  This can make the massage more effective and more comfortable. It’s not a requirement, but more of personal preference.

Tips for Using a Massage Ball

To make sure you are getting the most out of your massage ball, follow these tips:

  • Use the massage ball when the muscles are warm, so it’s ideal after a workout.  
  • Take your time and work the muscles slowly - this is not a race.
  • You will see the biggest difference after regular use so try to incorporate it into your daily routine.
  • Just like with other types of massages, it’s a good idea to drink extra water to stay hydrated.

A massage with a ball may not be the most comfortable massage you will have.  In fact, it can be downright painful, but with regular use, you will see a noticeable difference.

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Jeanette Lynn
 

Jeanette has been a professional massage therapist since 1998. She devotes her life to helping those who suffer from musculoskeletal pain. She's also a Pilates instructor and has a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).

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