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4 Muscle Roller Sticks That Are Almost As Good As a Real Massage

What Do Muscle Rollers Do?

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Move over, foam rollers, because muscle rollers are the new post-workout tool you need. You've probably heard the hype around foam rollers and the slew of benefits they offer—but how are they different than muscle rollers? While the two are very similar, muscle rollers are another way to get targeted relief on your body, and also tend to be much more portable, lightweight, and easy to use than traditional foam rollers. Sometimes referred to as massage sticks or muscle roller sticks, casual exercisers and hardcore athletes alike have found these handy tools to be super effective in rolling out tight, sore muscles and improving blood flow before and after physical activity.

Related: Spending an Entire Weekend Focusing On Workout Recovery Opened My Eyes to Just How Much I Need It

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Muscle Roller Sticks Vs. Foam Rollers

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While foam rollers typically offer different textures and varying levels of firmness, most muscle rollers have the same firmness, but come in various lengths—so you can choose the length that's right for your needs (like a stick that's short enough to fit in your bag if you want to bring it on the go). Another key difference is the way muscle roller sticks are used. Many people position themselves over top of a foam roller and apply pressure on a certain body part (while it rolls on the floor underneath them), but muscle rollers have two handles on either side that you hold onto, and then roll the stick up and down over the area you're massaging.

Some people prefer muscle rollers over foam rollers because of how easy they are to use, and since most of them tend to use harder materials (in other words, not foam), they can even offer more targeted muscle relief. If you're interested in trying out muscle rollers for yourself, check out four of the best muscle rollers you can use for relief, below. While there are different stick lengths and materials for you to choose from, the one thing all of these options have in common is that they're top-rated by customers, so you can trust that they'll do the job.

Whether you're looking to speed up recovery and reduce soreness through myofascial release after a tough workout, or you just want to show your body some extra love after a long day, muscle rollers are a great self-massage tool to reach for whenever you need some extra R&R—and we could all use a little more of that in our daily lives.

Related: 10 Best Foam Rollers

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Best Standard Roller: The Stick Travel Body Massage Stick

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This 17-inch travel muscle roller stick is made up of two gripped handles and eight roller spindles in the middle of the device that are made to be highly effective in rolling out muscles. Its slightly-flexible construction means it's pliable enough for use on a variety of areas on the body, while still being firm enough to provide a good massage on your muscles. With a 4.7-star Amazon rating and more than 1,200 reviews, it's safe to say that it's very effective.

"As someone that doesn't love to stretch (but definitely needs to), the stick provides a quick and effective way to take care of your muscles after a workout or run," said one reviewer. "I opted for the travel size due to price and ease in taking it on the road. Surprisingly its long enough to cover everything I need, including my back." Another person said this handy tool "saved them a doctor's bill" by working out painful knots on their neck.

Related: The Best New Recovery Tools for When Your Muscles Are Sore AF

Buy It, $26

Photo: Amazon

Best for Trigger Point Therapy: Elite Sportz Equipment Muscle Roller Stick

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Another great textured option, this 18-inch roller is compact enough to bring with you on the go, while still long enough to cover nearly any area of your body. The nine massage rollers on the device are firm and easy to roll, offering effective trigger point therapy benefits for your muscles. One of the biggest selling points on this option is the fact that there are small spaces between each roller, which prevents any hair on your body from painfully getting stuck between the rollers and allowing for a smooth rolling action.

This top-rated roller has a whopping 3,000 reviews by shoppers who say it works well for preventing muscle cramps. One reviewer said, "Probably my most favorite purchase from Amazon ever. We've had this for one day and I'm in love. It feels sturdy and strong. I don't see this breaking at any time in the near future. It rolls really nicely. Easy to use on yourself and others. It's small enough to tuck away in a drawer, yet large enough to span across most of your back."

Related: The Best Foam Rollers for Muscle Recovery

Buy It, $17

Photo: Amazon

Best Cushioned Muscle Roller: Tiger Tail Original Massage Stick

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If you're looking for something a little gentler to use on your body, go with the customer-loved Tiger Tail massager. While this option also has two handles and a center area to self-massage with, it differs from the others because the center is made from cushioned foam, rather than firm plastic rollers. It features rubber-ribbed handles and 10 inches worth of foam in the center so you can give yourself a feel-good massage wherever you are. While this design will feel gentler on your skin and muscles than plastic options, it's still effective in improving circulation to the area along with preventing and treating sore or fatigued muscles. This 18-inch stick is Tiger Tail's classic size, but if you're looking for something longer or more compact, it also comes in a 22-inch size and an 11-inch option.

Many customers love this massage stick for treating more sensitive areas that foam rollers or plastic muscle rollers might be painful on. One reviewer, who purchased the Tiger Tail upon recommendation from a massage therapist, called it "better than any foam roller I've tried," and continued, "This Tiger Tail is a miracle worker on my muscles. It helps stretch everything out and it's so easy to use. The fact that the middle portion moves by itself is wonderful. It's less work on your arms/joints than a regular foam roller because it does half of the work for you."

Buy It, $30

Photo: Amazon

Best Spiked Muscle Roller: Gaiam Restore Pressure Point Massage Stick

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A compact option that you can take anywhere, this pressure point massage stick from Gaiam is a must-have both in your gym bag and your suitcase while traveling. It has two soft-grip handles and three spiked massage balls for a DIY deep tissue massage that'll offer optimal relief on your muscles. While it may not feel as gentle as other options at first, the ergonomically-placed massage spikes are extremely effective at reaching trigger points.

Nearly 600 Amazon shoppers gave this spiked stick a positive review, with many people noting that it's super affordable compared to similar options that work just as well. One reviewer called it the "best stick massager" and said, "As a runner, I have all kinds of massage tools: from foam rollers to sticks to balls. This acts differently than anything else I have tried, though. It seems to really get into the muscle fibers, not just rolling away knots. It is incredible! I would hate to live without one now."

This story originally appeared on Health.com by Chelsey Hamilton.

Buy It, $8

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