Recovery—arguably the most important step in your training—often gets neglected by climbers. Yet, taking the time to regularly release tension in your muscles and joints can make an enormous difference in your strength and overall health.
The easiest and most efficient way to do so? With the help of recovery tools.
Whether you use them while warming up, after a hard training session, and/or to prevent injury—incorporating recovery devices into your daily routine will help keep your body balanced and strong.
Use this guide to review the best recovery tools on the market and find the ones that are right for you.
Top 7 best recovery tools
1. Foam rollers
If you’re not already using a foam roller, then you’re sorely missing out. Although simple, foam rollers are one the most effective recovery devices out there—and far more affordable than a massage.
Serving as a reliable go-to for self-myofascial release, these widely-used devices increase blood flow and range of motion throughout the body, making them a great tool to incorporate both in your pre- and post-workout routine.
Great for releasing tension in your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, IT band, and upper back
Foam rollers span the range in prices based on size, weight, and additional texture variations—but you can get them for as cheap as $9.
Staff Pick: 321 STRONG Foam Roller
2. Acupressure rings
At first glance, these “Chinese medicine rings” might seem gimmicky, but acupressure rings are exceptional in what they can do to keep your fingers as a climber happy … and they easily fit in your pocket.
Not only does a simple roll up and down each digit generate fresh blood flow in your overworked, sore fingers, but they also help to break down scar tissue caused by too much stress on your joints. With regular use after climbing, you’ll alleviate the aches and pains that come with a hard session and improve range of motion for your next.
And, if you have ever suffered or are currently suffering from a pulley injury, consider using these as a therapeutic treatment in your recovery process.
Another tool worth trying out (it’s only $2) is this Double Rubber Roller Finger Massager, which serves a similar functionality. One reviewer on Amazon says,
… as an avid climber this bad boy is clutch for dealing with internal scar tissue.
Reducing soreness, inflammation, or tension in strained fingers
Another great, affordable recovery tool. You can get a set of 5 for a little over $10.
Staff Pick: Goda Acupressure Rings
3. Thera Cane or Trigger Point Massage Tool
Whether you stick with the original Thera Cane massage tool or opt for the more elaborate creation from Back Body Company, you’ll get a device that lets you target muscular aches and pains in just about any spot in your body.
By applying pressure to different trigger points, the round nodes of this self-massager break down tense areas by stimulating blood flow. And unlike some other devices, the cane shape of this tool allows you to maintain more control and gain greater leverage by using your arms.
Relieving knots or trigger points in your neck, back, legs, chest, feet—basically anywhere you have muscular tension
Most of the manufacturers of these devices cost right around $30, which means you might get a bit more for your buck if you go with the extra-armed version from Back Body Company.
Staff Pick: Back Body Company Trigger Point Massage Tool
4. Rolflex (the new and improved Armaid)
Chances are you’ve seen one of these lying around the climbing gym … and that’s because they’re incredibly useful for preventing injury and promoting recovery in one of the most important parts of a climbers’ body: our forearms.
Especially useful for those who have experienced the onset of tendonitis, which can debilitate your ability to climb—the Armaid, or the newer device developed by the same inventor called the Rolflex, gives you both leverage and adjustable tension to help you work out stiff joints and pumped muscles in your forearms.
The upside of the Rolflex (or what they call a “foam roller re-imagined”) is it’s applicability to other parts of your body rather just your arms … and that it’s almost half the price of the Armaid.
Ideal for warming up your forearms before climbing or to alleviate soreness after climbing. It also functions as a more targeted foam roller for other parts of your body
While one of the more pricey recovery tools, the Rolflex comes in at about $60 instead of $110 for the Armaid.
Staff Pick: Rolflex Myofascial Release & Trigger Point Tool
5. TheraBand Flexbar Hand Exerciser
For a less bulky tool to prevent or treat the dreaded signs of tendonitis that many climbers encounter at one point or another, consider the TheraBand Flexbar.
Specifically designed as a remedy for “tennis elbow,” this simple tool works to increase flexibility, your range of motion, and to strengthen and balance weaknesses found throughout your elbow, wrist, forearm, and hand.
According to the manufacturer, it is
Clinically researched and proven to reduce elbow pain by 81% and increase strength in the tendons by 72% in tennis elbow patients.
And if you’re skeptical, its 4.7-star rating from over 1,000 reviews on Amazon should offer some social backing.
The Flexbar also comes with exercise instructions and is available in four different sizes and weights, depending on your specific uses and needs.
For reducing pain and promoting strength throughout your elbows, wrists, forearms, and hands
Between around $12-20 depending on the size you purchase, it’s a modest price to pay to recover and/or stay clear of tendonitis.
Staff Pick: TheraBand Flexbar Hand Exerciser
6. Muscle Roller Massage Stick
As another convenient self-massaging tool that offers similar benefits as a foam roller, you might consider a roller massage stick. Unlike a foam roller, these handheld devices can be used while standing or sitting, and are great for travel due to their slim, straight size. You can easily tether them onto your pack to take to the crag or on travels abroad.
… And if you happen to be a climber who runs or cycles, these are the go-to device for working out lactic acid build up in sore legs.
By far the most useful for dealing with sore legs; best to have a partner if you’re using it for your back or shoulders
These are available from a number of different manufacturers, and you can score one for as little as $10. A few have a more elaborate structure for added versatility, such as the Addaday Pro variation, though this will cost you a bit more.
Staff Pick: Elite Sportz Equipment Muscle Roller Stick
7. Massage balls
Yep, balls … This can mean using something as simple as a lacrosse ball, stepping it up with a spiky massage ball, or going all out with the next-level Hyperice Hypersphere Vibration Therapy Ball.
The spikes on the exterior—or in the case of the Hypersphere, vibrations—encourage greater circulation as you massage the affected area and can ease the process of working out stubborn knots.
Whichever you choose, a massage ball in any form will significantly assist you in tackling tough trigger points in your feet, or hard-to-reach places, such as your back or glutes. With the use of a floor or wall, you can really dig into these spots without exhausting yourself and pinpoint specific tense areas far more easily than with a foam roller.
Moreover, massage balls are a perfect tool to bring along while traveling.
Warming up your forearms, targeting knots in your back, glutes, legs, or coping with plantar fasciitis
Massage balls can be among the cheapest recovery tools out there, meaning you can keep your spend to just a few bucks. The more robust options like the Hypersphere, however, will cost you about $150.
Staff Pick: Master of Muscle Spiky Massage Ball (eBook included)
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