Foam rollers are a great thing to use when recovering from a ride. They not only are portable, but they help break up muscle knots with ease. However, there are foam roller alternatives that may already be in your home – and they may help ease pain better for certain areas of your body. Below are the best foam roller alternatives to help you recover.
The tennis ball is the most common foam-roller alternative. It’s a tool best reserved for sensitive places like your lower back, versus muscles like your calves, which can stand up to the density of a tougher self-massage tool. You should aim for the sides of your back, rather than right against your spine. Work those muscles by laying on the tennis ball and slowly circling over it, pausing and breathing into it in different spots.
Cyclists often feel soreness in their trapezium—the muscles down the sides of our necks to the tips of our shoulders—from looking up while hunched over the bike. The Thera Cane is a great self-massage tool for someone who is a frequent sufferer of that, because the tool’s shape (a cane, but with handholds and knobs) allows you to apply a lot of pressure without fatiguing your other muscles in the process.
This tool will give you more bang for your buck than a foam roller when it comes to working knots out of your quads. The foam roller is a great gateway tool, Sin says, but something like the Stick allows you to target leg muscles more precisely. On a foam roller, you’re doing a lot of work to make sure you hit all of the angles on a muscle, and it can put you into some awkward positions. But with the Stick, you can roll while sitting in bed or on the couch, and vary the pressure as you inch it along your quads in an up and down motion.
Softballs and baseballs can work your muscles more deeply than foam rollers, since you can sit on one and let your muscles “sink” around it and release. These balls also tend to better target calf muscles. Use them the same as you would a foam roller, with the ball on the floor and your leg perched on top of it.
Trigger Point Nano X Foot Roller
The Trigger Point Nano X Foot Roller looks like what would happen if someone took a space ray and shrank a traditional foam roller with divots into something doll-sized, so you can finally give your feet the foam-roller treatment. It’s a fantastic tool for getting into foot muscles that may be sore from being crammed into cycling shoes, repeating the same motion over and over again. Simply roll your foot over it slowly for one to two minutes, and you should feel relief.