A massage ball is an extremely useful tool used to massage the muscles in your body – the activity can reduce pain, manage stress, and help you recover faster from injuries.
Massage balls are becoming popular alternatives to the larger self-massage devices like foam rollers as they can massage smaller muscles and target areas more exactly.
In this best massage ball reviews article I’ll break down how to find a massage ball that will work for your needs, go over the benefits of using a massage ball, and also share some tips on how to effectively use your ball.
Massage Balls Table
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How to Pick the Best Massage Ball
Here I’ll go over some of my main criteria when it comes to picking a massage ball.
Massage ball size
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to massage balls, and in fact I have a few different sizes myself. For larger muscles like the quads, hamstrings, chest, and some back muscles you’ll probably want a fairly large ball like the size of a lacrosse ball or sometimes larger.
For smaller muscles like the shoulders, arms, calves, etc. a medium sized ball around the tennis ball region is suitable.
For the smallest muscles like hand muscles, feet, and other very hard to target areas you could use very small balls like a golf ball size.
As you can see, depending on which muscle and area you want to target you’ll want a different size ball.
Massage ball texture guide
The next common question I hear is should you use a textured massage ball? They have textured rollers, texture massage devices, but what about for massage balls?
I’m not a big fan of spiked or textured balls because they make it harder to roll on and balance on while massaging. The reason that foam rollers and larger self-massage devices have knobs or textures is because they roll way larger areas and the smaller bits can stimulate the muscles differently to break up fascia.
A massage ball is already targeted so you don’t need any extra bumps or blips to get the job done. There is one case where I would agree with the use of spikes on a massage ball, and that’s to treat planatar fasctiis which requires a more intense stimulation of the bottom of the foot for relief.
Massage ball hardness
It’s intuitive that the harder a massage ball is, the more deeply the massage will penetrate. Softer massage balls or even squishy balls can be used when you’re first starting out as doing self-massage can be a bit painful.
As a rule of thumb, go with a harder ball for your larger massage ball, and softer ones for smaller balls that will be massaging small muscles. Also if you’re just starting out in the world of self-massage – do yourself a favor and go with a softer ball.
Benefits of using a massage ball
Using a massage ball, just like a foam roller or getting an actual massage has several benefits that as a lifter or someone looking to reduce muscle pain you’ll want to enjoy.
- Break down of fascia that builds up around the muscles and can cause pain
- Relaxation, reduced stress
- Improve or restore mobility
- Improve mobility for movements like the squat
- Recover faster from hard workouts
- Treat strain injuries and break down scar tissue
To be honest everyone should be doing some sort of self-massage every day – you simply need to take care of your body. If you work in an office and sit in a chair all day, rolling or using a massage ball on your glutes, hamstrings, calves, back, and shoulders will be a life saver.
If you’re an athlete, massaging your areas that work hard will leave you feeling fresh for the next game, session, or practice.
If you’re a weight lifter – you can see improvements in mobility which can improve your form letting you lift more weight safer. Movements like the squat (depth), bench press (arch), snatch (catching point), and clean (catch mobility) can all be improved upon from massage ball therapy and you should definitely be interested in improving them.
Best Massage Ball Reviews
You came here looking for a product recommendation and here it is – if you don’t have any sort of massage ball yet I recommend getting a lacrosse ball. Here’s why:
Lacrosse Ball for a Massage Ball [usr 4.5]
How much is a lacrosse ball, a few dollars? The thing will last for as long as you want to keep it, unless your dog chews it up (mine likes to use it as a toy). Lacrosse balls are durable, tough (a bit on the harder side for massaging), and a great size to massage almost every muscle in the body.
You’ll see companies pushing textured balls, hard balls, soft balls, and different sized massage balls and I’ve tried them all but I keep coming back to the lacrosse ball beacuse it’s so simple and it works so well. I keep a few in my home, in my gym bag, and even in my travel bag.
Best Spiky Massage Ball [usr 4]
So I was trashing textured balls a bit, but the spiky massage ball has a special place for those who suffer from chronic inflammation of the foot known as plantar fasciitis. A spiky massage ball works wonders to reduce pain by compressing the sole of the foot and massaging it as well. The spikes on this ball offer great stimulation to the foot which is essential to managing the condition.
The Pro-Tec dense spiky ball I recommend isn’t flashy at all, and it’s also only a few dollars. Why spend money on treatment and massages when most of these devices are so cheap and will last you for a long time? This is a 3″ diameter ball that has consistent spikes specifically used to treat plantar fasciitis. It also gives a great foot massage regardless if you have this condition.
Best Massage Ball Set/System [usr 4]
So maybe you have a foam roller, and a lacrosse ball, and you’re still looking for more tools to add to your arsenal. This massage ball set is the final step into the world of self therapy and it compliments the previously listed tools perfect. Getting this massage ball set means you have access to balls with different firmness and diameter that are specifically designed for those problem areas that you can’t normally reach with other tools. These are perfect for getting into shoulder knots that hide behind the blade when you go to quash them, and getting into the hip flexors which is always a challenge.
Here’s my top pick for the best massage ball set: The Soma Sytem. With 5 balls scaling down from about the size of the lacrosse ball, this set should be all you ever need when it comes to massage balls. Treat almost every area of your body with this set that can massage any muscle – these balls really work and the sizes are spot on.
- Ball diameters: 1, 1.25, 1.75, 2.3, and 2.5 inches
- Perfect for self-therapy on the neck, shoulder, chest, upper back, lower back, arms, and more
- Comes with a great instructional program to get you “rolling” haha… right away!
- Also comes with a money back guarantee
So if you’ve been in the self-therapy game for a while and are looking for the final piece, this 5 ball set is perfect for rounding off any collection. With a foam roller and this set of massage balls there’s really nothing on your body you can’t treat yourself. Recover faster, feel better, reduce pain, and relieve stress all with a simple ball.
Best Massage Ball Reviews Conclusion
With a fair amount of information here, it should be clear that the best massage ball if you’re just start out is a lacrosse ball. From there, you can find other sized balls around the house to use until you feel like purchasing a multi-ball set like the Soma System. Remember, there is no expensive one-size fits all ball, the best massage ball will be the right size to massage your muscles and keep your body running well.
We also did a review on the acuBall system which is a fairly pricey massage ball / massage ball set but well worth the money. Unlike any other ball on this page it holds heat so you heat it up and apply pressure steadily instead of rolling all over it, and it works out the knots and tension so nicely. Here’s a link to the acuBall and a link to my review.