Editor’s Note: For more current information on this topic, read this updated article.
One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of training for climbing is recovery. Not only does proper recovery allow our bodies to receive the full benefits of our training sessions, but it also prevents injuries and overuse. At Moja Gear, we use recovery toys pretty obsessively for massaging our muscles after a training session, to counter the effects of sitting at a desk, and for overall health and wellness.
Below, you will find our favorites, with pros, cons, and price outlined for each:
Yep, that weird looking thing made out of rollerblade wheels that you’ve seen people using at the gym. Originally created as a recovery device for distance runners, climbers recently found that this toy is just as beneficial for our sport. Great for releasing pumped forearms and tight leg muscles after a long hike.
Perhaps the most effective recovery toy for de-pumping and releasing the forearm muscles. Also very effective on calves, quads, hamstrings, and IT bands.
Expensive, bulky, heavy.
Some climbers claim that these have single-handedly saved their fingers. These spikey rings apply pressure, promote blood flow, and break down scar tissue in the fingers. Ethan Pringle climbed with a ring in his pocket and massaged his fingers at the no-hands stance on Jumbo Love (5.15b).
Here’s how they work:
Inexpensive, easy to travel with, best recovery toy for fingers.
Easy to lose (buy a few!).
$4 – 12 (depending on quantity)
3. Foam Roller
Foam rollers have become one of the most popular recovery toys on the planet, not just for climbers, but for everyone. These are most effective at targeting the muscles of the lower body and back.
Can target many different muscles.
Applies broad pressure—not very precise (difficult to target single muscles), hard to travel with, can’t release forearm muscles.
$10 – 30 (depending on quality)
Perhaps the single greatest recovery toy on the list. If you’re only going to get one recovery toy, get a lacrosse ball. These are great at breaking down knots and scar tissue, promoting blood flow, and releasing tight muscles.
A demonstration of the many great uses for a lacrosse ball:
Easy to travel with, inexpensive, can target any area of the body, more precise than a foam roller.
Requires some instruction on how to use it.
Another great toy made with climbers in mind. This contraption uses a lever system to apply pressure to the forearm area. This is also one of the only recovery toys that can release the muscles of the hand.
A climber’s review of the Armaid:
Perhaps the best recovery toy for treating elbow tendonitis—applies very precise pressure on forearm muscles.
Can only target hand and forearm area, hard to travel with, expensive.
6. The Stick
Also called “the toothbrush for muscles,” The Stick is a popular recovery toy among athletes of all sports. This toy can help you massage out just about any area of the body.
Benefits of and best ways to use The Stick:
Light, easy to travel with, good for all-over body release.
Requires effort to apply pressure—you’re doing the work, tricky to target forearm area.
$30 – 50 (depending on type)
Bonus #7. The Thera Cane
Almost forgot about one of our favorite recovery tools—the Thera Cane! This exceptionally versatile toy helps to target specific knots and tight muscle areas that arise throughout the entire body; be that your shoulders, back, neck, legs, etc. The greatest benefit of the Thera Cane is its ability to provide additional pressure on muscles in hard to reach parts of your body. It’s also not too pricey and easy to throw in the car or attach to a pack.
Another fun and awkward promotional video. It gives you the gist though:
Easy to travel with, usable across the entire body, awesome for releasing knots.
Slight learning curve to understand its features/positions.
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