Shape Best In Fitness Awards 2023: Best Recovery Tools

Work hard, rest hard — with these proven recovery tools at your side, your muscles will be primed and ready to tackle the next workout.

Chirp / Theragun / TriggerPoint.

Whatever your fitness goals may be, it's important to remember the way you move is only one part of the equation; in fact, prioritizing recovery can be just as important as sticking to a consistent workout routine (especially if you want to stay pain- and injury-free). From massage guns to foam rollers, Shape experts tested all the recovery tools that promise to help you bounce back from your latest workout. These were the products that stood up to the challenge and earned their spot in the Shape Best In Fitness Awards.

Best Massage Gun: Theragun Prime

A percussive therapy device might seem reserved only for the upper echelon of athletes, but trust that a few sessions with this recovery tool will change your mind. With four tip attachments to target different areas of the body (such as the feet and lower back), five speeds, and 120-minute battery life, the device has something for everybody and every body. Beyond static stretching, a motorized device can ease muscle soreness and help with workout recovery in mere seconds. 

Theragun Prime
Theragun Prime $299.00

Expert Review: "I bought myself this massage gun as a reward after a particularly grueling year (hi, 2020!), and it quickly became a daily staple. I love it for post-long-run recovery during marathon training, but I also reach for it after long days of work. It's a godsend for providing relief to my neck and shoulders after sitting hunched over a laptop for hours at a time. The interchangeable tips, app connectivity, and powerful motor justify the price and make this a standout massage gun in its field." — Shannon Bauer, Shape and InStyle senior commerce editor

Best Compression Boots: Normatec 3 Legs

These full-leg compression boots use dynamic air compression to help you recover faster and maximize performance. The precision pulse technology helps increase circulation and reduce inflammation and features seven levels of compression to meet your individual needs.

Normatec 3 Legs
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs $799.00

Expert Review: "Regular time with the Normatec 3 compression boots was an essential part of my first marathon training plan, and I actually looked forward to my long runs knowing I had a date with these compression boots afterward. My favorite feature: Their special ZoneBoost™ technology, which gives extra time and pressure in a particular area (perfect for when my calves felt particularly tight)." Kristen Geil, NASM-certified personal trainer and Shape senior fitness editor

Best Compression Socks: Figs Double Stripe Compression Socks

Compression socks have a reputation for being uncomfortably tight and made with scratchy, suffocating material. Figs' compression socks beat the stereotype by being ridiculously soft, and their toe and heel padding makes them extra supportive.

Double Stripe Compression Socks
Figs Double Stripe Compression Socks $28.00

Expert Review: "I travel a lot on airplanes for long distances, and I always make sure that I have my Figs compression socks. They help to make sure that the blood doesn’t pull to my legs on these long flights, and I feel re-energized and ready to compete when I get off the plane." Anastasia Pagonis, gold and bronze medaled Paralympic swimmer

Best Meditation Cushion: Samaya Wheat Deluxe Round Cushion

This luxurious, 15-inch meditation cushion is filled with natural fibers, including plushy millet hulls and springy buckwheat hulls, to help support your posture during your practice. It’s also infused with dried lavender to promote even deeper relaxation. 

Wheat Deluxe Round Cushion
Samaya Wheat Deluxe Round Cushion $149.00

Expert Review: “Samaya has so many different fabric and color options to match any home interior style. These cushions are durable and beautiful. I use mine for seated meditations and also restorative yoga at times.” — Phyllicia Bonanno, yoga and meditation instructor and Sweat trainer

Best Recovery Shoes: Oofos OOAHH Slide Sandal

These foam-based slides are designed to absorb 37 percent more impact than traditional footwear, helping to keep your feet, ankles, and knees healthy and comfortable in between runs and tennis matches. The footbed also cradles your arches, so your feet won't ache after even a full day of wear.

OOAHH Slide Sandal
Oofos OOAHH Slide Sandal $60.00

Expert Review: "After a few barefoot strength-training sessions and long walks around my neighborhood, these slides give my feet the cloud-like support they crave. They're just cushy enough to feel like I'm wearing slippers, but the footbed makes them feel like orthopedic shoes. And I'm obsessed with all of the color options." Megan Falk, Shape assistant editor

Best Hot/Cold Recovery Tool: Hyperice Venom 2 Back

Hyperice is one of the most recognizable brand names in the recovery space, and the brand's Venom line offers muscle group-specific heated massage tools with products designed for legs, shoulders, and back (plus a nifty Venom Go tool, a heat and vibration wearable that can be applied anywhere on the body via a sticky pad). The Venom 2 Back, in particular, heats up six times faster than a traditional heating pad. Simply put, the entire Venom line is a 2023 upgrade to the tired hot pad.

Hyperice Venom 2 Back
Hyperice Venom 2 Back $249.00

Expert Review: "At some point in the last year or two, I became 'gets injured while sleeping' years old. The Hyperice Venom 2 Back is my favorite way to give swift relief to my lower back muscles, thanks to its soothing combo of heat and vibration." — Geil

Best Foam Roller for Beginners: Love Sweat Fitness 2-In-1 Foam Roller

This recovery tool set includes a dense, knobby foam roller to work out your deepest kinks, as well as a soft and smooth foam roller to gently massage your muscles. Thanks to the nesting doll-like design, you’ll need only enough space for one roller.

2-in-1 Foam Roller
Love Sweat Fitness 2-in-1 Foam Roller $35.00

Expert Review: “This two-in-one foam roller is great for beginners. Starting a foam rolling routine (and sticking with it) can be a challenge for newbies, but this roller set is so cute that you'll actually want to use it. The outer knobby roller can feel a bit too intense on your muscles when you're first starting out, but luckily, this set comes with a second smooth roller to use when you're in need of a gentle recovery session." — Marietta Alessi, Shape social media director

Best Foam Roller for Deep Pressure: TriggerPoint Grid 1.0 Foam Roller

The Grid 1.0 Foam Roller uses a multi-density foam surface to mimic the feeling of getting a deep tissue massage — and the reduced inflammation that comes with it. Its grid pattern offers more pressure than a traditional foam roller, giving you more control over how much intensity your muscles need.

Grid 1.0 Foam Roller
TriggerPoint Grid 1.0 Foam Roller $37.00

Expert Review: "TriggerPoint comes with clear instructions and advice for beginners, which is how I started. Its design is smart: a combination of flat and textured/channeled surfaces for tissue work so everyone can each find their 'sweet spot.' It’s affordable, portable, and can withstand quite a bit of weight!" Anne Reuss, NASM-certified personal trainer and inclusive training expert

Best Travel Recovery Tool: Gumdrop by Delos Therapy

This cleverly designed recovery tool is shaped like a pyramid, with surfaces that stick to the floor or a wall so you can easily apply pressure for extended periods of time. Roughly the size of a fist, it easily fits into any purse, gym bag, or carry-on suitcase.

Delos Therapy Gumdrop $39.00

Expert Review: "I've been the victim of a lacrosse ball rolling away from me too many times while trying to use it for myofascial relief, and using the Gumdrop felt like an actual lightbulb moment. I love how the edges are the perfect size to target the exact muscle or sore spot I want, and it's super intuitive to use." — Geil

Best Acupressure Mat: ProSource Fit Acupressure Mat and Pillow

The small, plastic pressure points on acupressure mats help reduce muscle tension and pain in a flash. This pick from Amazon is budget-friendly and includes both a mat and a pillow to target your entire back.

Fit Acupressure Mat and Pillow
ProSource Fit Acupressure Mat and Pillow $30.00

Expert Review: "This under-$30 set has been key in reducing my back pain during WFH days (yes, I'm a sloucher). At the end of the day, I unwind by laying on this mat and listening to a podcast or simply closing my eyes for 10 to 15 minutes. It takes a little getting used to, but once your body adapts to the little points, it's honestly addictive." — Geil

Best Vibrating Recovery Tool: TriggerPoint GRID VIBE Plus

This recovery tool is basically a cross between your favorite foam roller and massage gun together in one device. The 3.5-inch-wide foam roller is cordless and rechargeable, and it includes four vibration frequencies that increase circulation and accelerate muscle recovery.

Grid Vibe Plus
TriggerPoint GRID VIBE Plus $105.00

Expert Review: "I love my TriggerPoint foam roller so much that I have it in this vibrating version and regular variety as well. What I personally appreciate about the GRID VIBE Plus is its size — it's slim enough to fit inside the well of my larger foam roller but big enough to be used effectively anywhere on my body. Alyssa Sparacino, ACE-certified personal trainer and Shape editorial director

Best Tool for Improving Sleep Quality: Therabody Smart Goggles

Think of these smart goggles as a high-tech eye mask that gently massages your temples to help you drift off. They offer personalized vibration patterns to reduce your heart rate when you're dealing with late-night Sunday Scaries. With the foldable design, you can easily bring the tool with you on weekend getaways.

Therabody Smart Goggles $199.00

Expert Review: "The Sleep mode is wonderful, and I use it most nights. It either gets me right to that sweet spot of heavy eyelid sleepiness or I straight up fall asleep with it on. Something about the combination and synchronization of vibration, air compression massage, and heat gives me the same sensation as when my aching body descends into a hot bath." — Tamim Alnuweiri, Shape contributor and e-commerce beauty writer at Dotdash Meredith

Best Infrared Recovery Tool: HigherDOSE Infrared Sauna Blanket

This sleeping bag-like sauna blanket delivers infrared heat rays to promote muscle recovery, increase circulation, and encourage relaxation. After a tough workout, choose from eight different heat levels, set your timer for an hour, snuggle inside, and let the blanket work its magic.

Infrared Sauna Blanket
HigherDOSE Infrared Sauna Blanket $599.00

Expert Review: “I absolutely love my HigherDOSE Sauna Blanket (especially during colder months) for deep relaxation and a nice sweat. It helps revive my sore muscles and makes me sleep so well. Perfect to use while meditating, right before bed, or even while watching TV.” — Bridget O'Carroll, founder of Studio Qila

Best Roller for Back and Neck Pain: Chirp Wheel

A recovery tool featured on Shark Tank, the Chirp Wheel is designed to stretch and strengthen muscles along the spine. The wheels come in several sizes for a variety of pressures, and you can also use them to relieve tension in your neck, shoulders, glutes, and more.

Chirp Wheel+ 4-Pack
Chirp Wheel Chirp Wheel+ 4-Pack $130.00

Expert Review: “Rolling out my back with these wheels is pure bliss. Using them for five minutes daily seems to have helped prevent aches I used to deal with from working with a less-than-ergonomic desk setup.” Renee Cherry, Shape associate editor

Best Stick Roller: Tiger Tail The Original 18"

This handheld foam roller helps relieve muscle knots and aches when lying on the floor just isn’t an option. The 18-inch recovery tool is small enough to stash in your suitcase while traveling, glides smoothly across your body, and is wrapped in a layer of foam for additional comfort.

Original 18″ Portable Foam Roller Massage Stick
Tiger Tail The Original 18″ $40.00

Expert Review: “I used this for an ultramarathon in Africa. My calves get super tight, and this is a great way to get the blood going without taking up very much space. It requires a bit more effort than the foam roller, but the benefit is there!” — Alessi

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