Compact and portable. Targeted; can be used on specific body areas needing relief from muscular tightness or soreness. Silicone surface provides excellent grip; resists chemical and thermal degradation. Runs for 3-hr minimum on rechargeable batteries. Three levels of high-intensity vibration.
Price falls on the higher end of the spectrum. Rare reports of lemons.
Has an LED indicator light and choice of four vibration modes. Rubberized coating is reasonably soft and has a textured surface that makes it comfortable to use. Portable size. Runs on a rechargeable battery; gets decent battery life per charge. Available in two colors.
Vibration isn't intense enough for some users, even on the highest setting.
Intense vibration targets deeper areas of muscle tissue. Choice of four modes to align with specific needs. Powerful, long-lasting, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Auto turnoff after 10 min. LED indicator lights display levels/power.
Use high-intensity vibration with caution, especially on chest or neck.
Digital circuitry controls and three speed settings. Compact and versatile. Treats muscle issues in various body regions. Hard exterior permits vibrations to penetrate to deeper muscle layers. Tested and endorsed by a number of pro athletes.
Expensive. Some complaints that unit shuts off unintentionally during use because power button isn't recessed enough.
In addition to three massage modes, this ball heats up to aid in calming aching muscles and soothing pressure points. Rechargeable. Exterior has a soft texture. Comes with a money-back guarantee.
It's easy to accidentally change the mode settings. A few reports of balls that quit working after several uses.
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Most of us can’t go to a masseuse every time we get a sore back or stiff shoulder. Today, at-home relief is more available than ever before. Vibrating massage balls let you target acupressure points and deep muscle tissue without the aid of another person and in the comfort of your home. These devices reduce pain and increase relaxation by massaging pressure points and injuries using vibration and your own body weight.
We’ve put together a shopping guide to take you through the features you may need, as well as the considerations that can help narrow down your options. Don’t forget to take a look at our top picks for the models that we think stand out for their effectiveness and durability.
Vibrating massage balls are a relatively small piece of equipment because they’re designed to reach the smallest of muscles. Vibrating massage balls range from 42 to 100 millimeters (1.68 to 4.0 inches) in size. If you have a specific problem area, look for a ball in a size that’s designed specifically for that area. However, if you want a massage ball for general muscle soreness, a medium or large ball is more versatile.
Small massage balls work best for hands, forearms, and feet.
Medium massage balls target the buttocks, calves, neck, and deltoids.
Large massage balls are more effective on the chest and shoulders.
A silicone-covered ball with some softness and give works well on sensitive areas like the neck, hands, and feet. If you’ll be targeting the shoulders, back, and hamstrings, you’ll need a model with rubber that’s hard enough to reach deep into the muscle tissue. You can get a clue as to the hardness of a massage ball by the texture on the outside. Models with little to no tread or knobs covering the surface are meant to reach acupressure points, while models with a tread-like texture are designed for deep tissue massage.
Vibrating massage balls contain rechargeable batteries. Unless you’re using the ball several times a day, the charge should last for several days to a week or more. Once the battery has lost power, it can take anywhere from 90 to 180 minutes to recharge.
Small massage balls target areas like the feet and neck. The small size means you can apply intense pressure to a specific area in a large muscle group. If you’ve never used a massage ball before, start with a larger one that spreads the pressure over a broader area.
The materials used to make a vibrating massage ball affect durability and the ways in which the ball can be used. The right choice for you will depend on how you want to use the massage ball and the areas of the body you’re most likely to use it on.
Rubber: Massage balls made of rubber are firm and easily reach deep tissue.
Foam and silicone: Massage balls made with foam or silicone tend to be softer than those with a rubber exterior. Consequently, these massage balls are gentler and require more pressure to reach deep into the muscle.
It’s a ball. How could there variations in the shape? But some vibrating massage balls are shaped like a peanut – with two ball-like ends joined in the center. Peanut-shaped models can be used in all of the same areas as spherical ones. They differ in that the peanut shape can reach a larger surface area in less time and target both sides of the spine at the same time. One can also be used to cup the muscle in the middle of the peanut, which works well for forearms and calves. One shape doesn’t necessarily work better than the other. It’s more a matter of how you want to use the massage ball.
Not all vibrating massage balls have a textured surface, but those that do may have a specific purpose that can affect how it's used. Balls with knobs are designed to hit acupressure points. Others with a tread-like texture dig more deeply into the muscle tissue. Some massage balls have little or no texture and work on general muscle soreness or stiffness. Any texture changes on the surface of these models can also enhance the grip and stability of the ball.
Some areas of the body may need more pressure and vibration to work out stiffness than others. But too much vibration on the neck or feet may make matters worse rather than better. Massage balls that have several speed choices let you adjust the vibration to fit the area of the body and soreness level.
Constant vibration doesn’t work for every person or every injury. A pulse feature alters the vibrations from slow to fast in a consistent pattern. This kind of action works well for deep tissue massage of the back, shoulders, and legs.
A power indicator light lets you know if you’ve left the massage ball on so you don’t waste battery life. A battery life indicator lets you know how much juice is left so you don’t need to leave a vibrating massage ball plugged in all the time. Neither feature is a deal breaker, but they do make it easier to conserve battery life and always have a charged massager ready to go.
Some models have an automatic shutoff feature that kicks in 10 to 15 minutes after the vibrations have been activated. Other models have a timer that turns off the vibrations but not the ball after a certain amount of time. These features save battery life and help you massage your body in balanced intervals.
Do you have trigger points? These are certain areas where tension and stress manifest in your body. If you’ve suffered an injury, the injured area may become a trigger point for you. Massage balls work wonders in these hard-to-reach problem areas.
Inexpensive: Vibrating massage balls start at around $25 or less. At this price point, the massage balls are made of rubber or a combination of rubber and foam. They may or may not have some tread, but these models don’t usually have knobs for acupressure.
Mid-range: Between $25 and $50 are massage balls with several vibration speeds and a pulse setting. Models with knobs to trigger pressure points are more common in this price range, as is an outer shell made of rubber or silicone.
Expensive: Once you get into the $50 to $75 range, peanut-shaped massage balls with a smooth silicone surface are the norm, though some have a light tread. These models have several vibration and pulse settings, and a few may have a timer or automatic shutoff feature.
Premium: At over $75 are peanut-shaped massage balls with auto shutoff, timer, and power and battery indicator lights.
The surface of the massage ball should have some natural grip to prevent the ball from slipping. Rubber, silicone, and foam are used because of their flexible but grippy texture.
Keep the massage ball clean. Silicone, rubber, and foam surfaces can attract dirt, hair, and dust. Before using the massage ball, clean the surface that you’ll be using for counterpressure. You’ll also need to occasionally wipe down the surface of the ball to remove any built-up debris.
Apply pressure with your body weight, not your hands. This is the most effective and safest way to apply pressure. Vibrating massage balls aren’t intended to be held in the hands while applying pressure because the vibrations make the ball difficult to hold. Instead, place the ball on a flat surface like the floor, wall, or a table and use direct body pressure to control the depth of the massage.
Massage around an area of pain. If you’re dealing with an injury, you don’t have to apply vibration directly to the area to get relief. Try massaging around the injury to loosen the pressure from surrounding muscles and ligaments.
It can be hard to narrow down the choices to a top five. Here are a couple of massage balls that didn’t quite make our list but could be right for you. The Rolling With It Vibrating Peanut Massage Ball has a soft silicone surface and three speeds with an additional pulse setting. Easy-to-read indicator lights and a ten-minute auto shutoff round out the list of features that make this a great massage ball. The Sedona Vibrating Massage Ball has four speeds and easy-to-read power indicator lights. Though the exterior is soft silicone, it has a tread to help massage the muscles.
Q. What are the benefits of vibration?
A. Vibration shakes and relaxes the muscle. In a professional massage, vibration comes at the end of the massage when the muscle has already been worked. The vibration extends deeper into the tissue and stimulates blood flow to the area. Vibration can also cause temporary numbness and act as a pain reliever.
Q. Do the batteries need to be replaced?
A. Vibrating massage balls are made with a built-in rechargeable battery. The batteries are designed to last for the life of the ball so they can’t be replaced.
Q. Do vibrating massage balls come with a warranty?
A. Most come with at least a one-year warranty, though a few models may have a longer one. Like other products, you might have to register the ball for the warranty to go into effect. Look for a registration card in the box or check the owner’s manual for online registration.
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