Best Massage Ball of 2021
|Price||$20.95 at Amazon||$19.00 List||$80.79 at Amazon|
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|$16.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Great for full body use, extremely versatile, well made||Ergonimic, eco-friendly, odorless||Charges well, 3 different vibration settings, easy to use, soft exterior||Gentle, highly versatile, ergonomically-sound design||Great grip, solid, durable, doesn't attract dust and pet hair|
|Cons||Less gentle||Slightly less versatile||Heavy, pricey, somewhat clunky||Less durable, difficult to clean||Pricier, slightly intense|
|Bottom Line||Different sizes, shapes, and textures provide an incredibly versatile set of tools, perfect for full body use||This wonderfully-textured set of tools is sure to loosen tight muscles throughout your body||From its soft exterior to its range of vibration settings, we love utilizing this ball for loosening our tightest muscles||A highly versatile EVA foam massage sphere that can be gentle when you need it and just firm enough when you need a bit more||This aggressive massage ball will get the job done without picking up dust and pet hair from your floor|
|Rating Categories||Tumaz 3-in-1 Set||Koolsen Peanut Ball...||TriggerPoint MB Vibe||TriggerPoint Foam MB1||Epitomie Fitness Mu...|
|Specs||Tumaz 3-in-1 Set||Koolsen Peanut Ball...||TriggerPoint MB Vibe||TriggerPoint Foam MB1||Epitomie Fitness Mu...|
|Weight||2.4 oz, 5.2 oz, 5.3 oz||13.1 oz, 4.8 oz, 1.9 oz||22.01 oz||1.2 oz||6.49 oz|
|Size||2.5", 2.8", 3" x 6.3"||2.6"||4"||2.5"||3.2"|
|Materials||Phthalate-free PVC, EVA foam||Silica gel||High-density silicone, plastic||EVA foam||High density rubber|
|Ideal Target Zone||Full body. Plantar fascia||Full body||Quads, hamstrings, glutes||Piriformis, glutes, vastus medialis, levator scapulae,||Quads, hamstrings, trapezius, rhomboids/mid-back.|
The Tumaz 3-in-1 massage ball set is the true MVP of our roundup. Each one of the three tools in this set is versatile, ergonomically excellent, and durable. The set includes a 2.5-inch lacrosse-style ball, a 2.8-inch hard plastic spike ball, and a 6.3-inch x 3-inch bumpy, oblong roller. The lacrosse-style ball is free of offensive odors and firm enough to dig into hard-to-access muscle groups. It is also gentle enough to not feel like hard plastic digging into your skin. The spiky orb has very rigid, significant spikes and is great for loosening up the pesky plantar fascia. The oblong roller is made of phthalate-free PVC and is extra firm to the touch. The bumpy surface and gentle contour make this roller great for feet, spines, and the occasional IT band, depending on whether or not you like your rolling with a side of pain.
While we wholeheartedly believe that the Tumaz 3-in-1 is the best we tested, we acknowledge that the rigid surfaces and extreme textures might be too aggressive for some users. Even the softest component of this set, the lacrosse-style ball, offers less give than others we tested. This set of massage tools will be most loved by users looking for something to loosen and massage their entire bodies. With this durable team of tools, you'll be able to roll out the areas that hold the most tension. Overall, this set impressed us by being highly versatile, ergonomically sound, and durable.
We cannot get enough of the Koolsen Peanut Ball set, a group of three highly ergonomic silica gel massage tools. One is a classic, 2.5-inch ball with a very shallow diamond texture on its surface, one is a peanut-shaped ball with a very gentle contour, and the final one is a small, diamond-shaped device. The latter is about 2-inches from end to end and sits atop a table like a dreidel. We love using it to loosen areas where tendonitis is common, such as the elbows and knees. The dreidel-shaped tool feels like a gentle knuckle to the point of contact, a super unique and enjoyable sensation when properly applied. The texture of the lacrosse-style ball offers a good grip and a strong shape to truly get the job done. The peanut ball has a less aggressive contour than the other peanut-shaped balls we've experienced. Because of this less dramatic shape, it is ideal on the spinal column. All three are solid, eco-friendly massage tools that excel amid a sea of less versatile options. The texture also makes these tools less magnetic to pet hair and dust, which is a major side bonus. The surface is also extra grippy and easy to use.
The Koolsen set is slightly less versatile than the Tumaz, but not by much. The peanut ball has a gentle contour in the center, ideal for the spine, shins, calves, and more. The diamond-shaped device is lovely if you're into pinpoint pressure. Overall, if you are looking for an eco-friendly set of massage tools that dig into all of the right places, you will be delighted with these.
The Koolsentwin-pack of balls is a basic set of high-performing massage balls for one low price. They are made of non-toxic, eco-friendly silica gel, which is odorless and offers an element of softness to these otherwise extremely firm balls. We enjoyed using this pair of balls along our spine — unlike the peanut-shaped balls, this matching set can be moved together or independently to work out your tightest places. The surface texture is strong and grippy enough for comfortable use. These durable balls are 2.5 inches in diameter and impressively durable.
The drawback of many silica gel orbs is that they attract dust and pet hair when used on the floor. As with other silica gel units, however, these balls are easily washed in water or cleaned with non-toxic cleaning spray. This set was modeled after lacrosse balls, and, following suit, they are steadfast and strong. People who are new to self-massage and mobility work with balls might find the density to be a bit too aggressive. Rest assured that even if they feel too hard upon arrival, once your muscle tissues start to loosen, you'll adapt to the sensation. Ultimately, we really like this two-pack of heavy-duty massage balls.
The TriggerPoint MB Vibe is our favorite vibrating massage orb. Not only does the high-density silicone exterior provide a bit of cushion for tender areas, but the three vibration settings allow for a customizable experience. The ball also holds a charge longer than other vibrating choices we've tested. It comes with a standard, 110v plug and the charging port is easy to access. The lights on the ball indicate its level of charge, so you'll never be surprised when the power fades out. We absolutely love using this ball to loosen large muscle groups. We found that it can be used beneath the body or pressed into the muscle tissue with your hands. The vibrations mostly take away the need to apply extreme pressure, which appeals to those who prefer a relaxing self-massage experience.
Most of the downsides of the TriggerPoint MB Vibe are fairly predictable. It is significantly heavier than a simplistic ball, weighing in at a whopping 22.01 ounces. It's also bigger than many others we've tested at 4-inches in diameter. The larger size means it's a bit less versatile too, as larger balls are best employed on larger muscle groups. Furthermore, the vibrations can be quite unpleasant when used on leaner parts of the body. To top it off, the TriggerPoint Vibe is an investment. But if you are looking for a top-shelf vibrating self-massage tool — and the size, weight, and price aren't a deterrent — we absolutely recommend coughing up the cash for this option.
We love the sensation of the TriggerPoint Foam MB1 beneath our tightest muscles. The EVA foam is gentle enough to make self-massage enjoyable but firm enough to still pack a punch. The soft yet strong foam lends itself perfectly to a variety of body parts. Because this ball is less rigid than others in our review, we found it more versatile and accommodating to different preferences. No matter which body part you are attempting to loosen, this ball is up for the job.
As anticipated, the Trigger Point Foam is less durable than much of the competition. As is the case with items made of foam, this ball is not impervious to blemishes and gashes. Despite our rigorous testing, however, this ball endured, holding its shape well. The lack of durability will most likely show itself if a dog gets ahold of this one; the foam would not hold up to canine mastication. The Trigger Point Foam is also less easy to clean when compared to our other options. The foam can be wiped, but we do not recommend submerging this sphere into water or even getting it too wet. Overall, this massager is a great choice for anyone looking for a versatile, ergonomically solid, and gentler massage ball.
The Epitomie Fitness Muscle Max is a 3.2-inch ball with deep grooves and a hard-packed rubber body. It is on the heavier side when compared to other balls in our lineup, but at 6.5 oz, it is still very portable. The high-density rubber offers an intense and aggressive muscle release, while the grooves provide a varied surface to ensure deep loosening. We love how the surface texture helps the pressure penetrate the skin and work efficiently on the musculature below. The surface texture also provides a great grip on hardwood surfaces. The Muscle Max is a highly durable option for athletes with a "no pain, no gain" mentality. As a side note, this may be the only ball in our review that doesn't act as Velcro for dust and dog hair when used at home. We know this may not be a concern for everyone, but for those of us with pets, we know how gross it can feel to have your workout gear covered in hair.
The main drawback of the Muscle Max is that it might be a bit too intense for some users. This is not a ball for the faint of heart. If you prefer a gentle touch, we recommend steering clear of all "high-density" options. Because of its hard-packed feeling, the Muscle Max is fairly intense for use along the spine. If you're into that, this is the ball for you. This ball has a higher price point than some of its counterparts, but we believe it to be a worthy investment since the rubber is so durable.
Why You Should Trust Us
Ally Arcuri is an Exercise Specialist who holds a special place in her heart for therapeutic fitness in all forms. She has her bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton and her 200-hour Yoga Teaching certificate from Yandara Yoga Institute. Throughout the course of her studies, she gained valuable knowledge about human anatomy and, specifically, how it relates to exercise. Ally spent many years working under talented physical therapists, which she believes has made her an integral part of the therapeutic exercise community. When she isn't chasing trail-running PRs, Ally can be found working on her own flexibility and mobility through yoga, Pilates, and other healing modalities.
Throughout our weeks of testing, we committed to using these massage tools for hours each day and wholeheartedly followed through with our commitment. Our previously-tense fascia is grateful for our efforts. Not only did we use our collection of massage balls in predictable ways, but we tried to think outside of the box as we created our testing regimen as well. We used our massage balls to loosen every accessible muscle group and took exhaustive notes along the way. We learned what we like in a self-massage tool and what technology we are better going without. We spent hours rolling our butts, guts, and thighs in an attempt to garner insider info and pass it on to you.
Analysis and Test Results
Whether you are a seasoned massage ball-using veteran or a total newbie to the game, everyone can find a use for a reliable massage sphere. Massage balls are an excellent tool for loosening tight muscle tissue and increasing mobility and flexibility. We sorted through some of the most popular variations on the market to determine who they're best for, what muscle groups they can release, and where they should be placed. We found our way through a strict battery of tests to determine which are worthwhile and which are not. Below we outline all of the details you need to select the right tool for your needs.
To assess value, we consider how well each product performed in relation to its price point. When a lower-priced item scores well, it is considered to have a better value ratio. We also took into account the versatility of each massage tool as we tested. A low-priced, high-performing, and versatile ball is the ultimate trifecta in this category.
The Sports Medica Lacrosse ball is available for less than other balls and is versatile and high-performing thanks to its standard size and silicone structure. That said, it's only a single ball. The Koolsen Massage Roller 2-Pack is a great value for the same reasons as the Sports Medica option, but you get a set of two instead for just a couple more bucks. The balls are also slightly bigger and quite firm, though they are prone to attracting dirt, dust, and pet hair if you use them on the floor.
Our two top-scoring sets, the Tumaz and Koolsen 2020 also offer exceptional value because you get three different massage tools for one relatively low price. Depending on your needs and what muscle groups you are looking to work on, these sets are a fantastic choice. The versatility in these diverse sets makes full-body self-massaging a breeze.
The Pro-Tech Athletics Orb is a popular massage option that also offers a good value. We tested the 5-inch version which is light enough to bring everywhere and large enough to act as a foam roller. We enjoy stowing this ball in our gym bag and rolling our IT bands after lower body days at the gym.
Ergonomics is defined as "the design characteristics of an object." We took this one step further and tested each ball's functional ergonomics by using each one extensively on multiple muscle groups. We started this battery of tests on easy-to-access muscle groups and moved into smaller areas. While we rolled, squished, and sat on each ball, we focused on how easily each tool loosened our stiff muscles.
Some devices are specifically touted for being made for one muscle group or another, and we kept this in mind as we tested. We allotted two minutes per body part during each testing attempt and took extensive notes. We began this test series by rolling the arches of our feet and then moved to the greater glute area; both of these regions are extremely straightforward in terms of where and how to roll.
When it came time to level up, we opted to move into the lower back and shoulder blade areas. Again, we allowed for two minutes of relaxation (and sometimes pain) in each area before moving on. Our next phase of testing emphasized smaller, more tender areas such as our necks and hip flexors.
We weighed each design's pros and cons to determine how functional each unit is, doing our best to decide which texture, level of rigidity, and shape are the most ergonomically effective across a broad range of situations. Ultimately we tested ergonimics with one burning question in mind: does this ball massage what we want in the most user-friendly and effective way possible?
When it comes to ergonomics, the massage tools that came as complementary sets have a decided edge. The Tumaz 3-in-1 Set was the real heavy hitter amongst our crew of tools. Each of the three pieces targets muscle groups slightly differently but is perfectly designed to accommodate the contours of the human body. We placed our hands on many balls during testing, and the ergonomically superior Tumaz tools are strikingly well-made and user-friendly. Our other favorite set in this regard is the Koolson 2020 Peanut Ball Set. The texture, contours, and diversity of this set really stand out. We loved having a traditional ball, a peanut ball for the spine, and a diamond-shaped piece for trigger point work. Another notable mention here is the Trigger Point Foam MB1. Something about this ball makes it feel like you can get it all — soft and gentle release all the way to hard targeted pressure. Pretty dreamy.
The 5Billion Peanut Ball is an ergonomically-specific massage tool best used on the muscles surrounding the spine. The deep contour allows space for the spine to rest without extreme pressure. This ball lacks versatility, but if you are looking for a tool to release the supporters of the spinal column specifically, the 5Billion could be your perfect match.
Another option that lacks versatility but offers supreme ergonomics is the Recoup Crysophere. This is a highly specified massage tool that is best used on inflamed tissues. To properly use this massage ball, the metal insert should be stored in the freezer. When you're ready to use it, pop it into the roller and get to work. The plastic rolling components don't transfer the cold, which makes for a very pleasant icing experience. Furthermore, this device can be set on the ground and used with your body weight atop it to really hit the spot.
We tested versatility in conjunction with ergonomics. While we could manipulate each ball into loosening our chosen muscle groups, we looked for those that did not need to be coerced. Meaning: we judged versatility by how easy it was to access each area without contortionism or acrobatics.
Furthermore, we considered how many body parts were easily accessible with each ball's specific size and shape. As outlined above, we moved through three different "phases" in an attempt to determine each massage ball's versatility. We looked at each one through a hyper-critical lens and wondered, is this ball good for relaxation and mobility as well as deep tissue work? We also assessed if each ball provided what it was intended for and worked as marketed.
We don't know about you, but we appreciate minimalism. The best part about a super versatile ball is that an all-in-one tool creates far less clutter. Our favorite ball for versatility is the TriggerPoint Foam MB1. This gentle EVA foam sphere is extra versatile because of its softer surface. Many of the balls we tested were too hard for more tender or tight areas, so this foam option ended up satisfying those needs more adequately. And despite its softness, it's still firm enough to work for super tight areas that require a bit more leverage.
The Tumaz 3-in-1 Set is another super versatile option. Its versatility is somewhat obvious because there are three separate shapes included. Still, we really like how each apparatus has a different surface texture, and the variance of shapes means you can likely find something for any body part. The Koolsen Peanut Ball Set scored well in this metric for the same reasons.
We love the versatility of the smaller balls, too, even the non-traditionally shaped ones. The itty-bitty TriggerPoint MobiPoint is a 1.8-ounce spiky ball made of plastic that has a way of hitting you in the spots where you need it most. The diamond-shaped knuckle-like massage tool included in the Koolsen 2020 Peanut Ball Set is another great option for pinpointed precision.
Few experiences are more jarring than being fully relaxed and laid out across a ball only to have it slip out from beneath you. With this annoyance in mind, we tested the grip of each massage tool. We rested the full weight of our bodies on each ball, rolled to our heart's content, and forcibly tried to get each one to go skittering across our floor.
We were pleased to discover that many of the balls (diamonds, triangles, peanuts, and cylinders included) stayed put far better than any felt-enveloped tennis ball ever could. Very few options in our lineup were not grippy, though we did observe a few differences as we tested.
We learned that the stickier the surface, the more predictable the rolling, for the most part. This came with one unfortunate drawback — the grippier balls work like magnets for pet hair and dust on the floor. Luckily, the dog hair-collecting balls made of eco-friendly silica gel are waterproof and splendidly lend themselves to quick rinses in the sink.
The grippiest of all are the tools in our review are those in the Koolsen Peanut Ball Set. This group is made exclusively of silica gel, which has a fairly sticky texture, and we felt utterly secure and comfortable with these balls beneath us, no matter how slick the hardwood. The Koolsen Massage Roller 2-Pack also scored highly in this metric. This set of identical balls is also made of silica gel and is extra-grippy and easy to clean.
As we've already mentioned, the Epitomie Fitness Muscle Max ball has deep grooves that provide extra grip when used atop slippery surfaces. The Hyperice Hypersphere Mini is a 3.5-inch vibrating ball coated in dense silicone. The coating makes it extra sticky against smooth floors, which we appreciate. The downside of this is that it is also a magnet for any dust or pet hair in the vicinity.
As with all things, we want our massage tools to live long, prosperous lives. The demands we imposed on these items during our testing period was hearty.
Ultimately, we feel that durability determines value, so we wanted to understand how well these useful massage shapes can reasonably last. Because we frequently put our entire body weight on each ball, we could see if they held up to the basic requirements of use. From there, even though our testing period is limited, we made sure to use each model hard and often to help simulate the abuse these tools go through over a prolonged period of time.
In general, we found that silica gel and rubber balls have the highest durability, maintaining their shape better than their slightly inferior counterparts. The latex-free rubber of the 5Billion Peanut is extra durable and ferociously stands up to abuse. Both Koolsen sets, made of silica gel, are also strong and resist abrasions and lacerations outstandingly well.
The amount of self-massage tools on the market is vast, with each shape and size boasting its own pros and cons. We sifted through many of the most popular options to determine which are worth your hard-earned cash. Our extensive testing provided us with valuable knowledge that we are happy to pass on to you, from budget-friendly finds to high-tech sets. Now get rolling!
— Ally Arcuri