We’re going to continue the theme of discussing non-massage gun therapy tools. As much as I love massage guns, I care even more about helping people stay healthy, active, and recovered so they’re able to accomplish whatever they set their mind to. And, if this means using a tool other than a massage gun, I’m all for it! So, in my last post, I talked about two handheld massage tools, the Myofascial IASTM Multipurpose Tool and the Acuforce Massage Star. As you’ll learn upon reading, both of these tools are excellent for the on-the-go trainer and trained professional. They’re small, sleek, and can be used to accomplish a variety of different massages. Where they fall short, however, is in the hands of non-trained athletes seeking a little bit of relief. These tools are both best kept to the professionals and should probably include a “don’t try this at home” disclaimer on the box. Given their unforgiving construction and sheer edges, a self-practitioner can cause themselves harm while attempting relief. So, if this sounds like you, perhaps a massage gun would be a more appropriate tool.
But today, I’m going to discuss two more tools that both have very specific purposes. The first is the Compex Sport Elite Muscle Stimulator. This tool is really not a massage tool at all, but is still a mainstay in most sports medicine or physical therapy clinics. A muscle stimulator, or ‘stim’ as they’re often called, sends electric pulses through patches that you can place in different places on your body. The benefit to this pulse therapy is varied, but it is often used to stimulate and aid a muscle in firing (contracting).
This can be helpful as a form of warm up, strengthening, or injury rehabilitation. The Compex Sport Elite Muscle Stimulator has 6 different settings, 3 of which are targeted to strengthening, 1 to pain relief, 1 to recovery/rehab, and 1 for warm up. Like I said, a stim machine is extremely helpful, especially on the road back from injury, but doesn’t necessarily replace a massage tool. If you’re somebody that struggles with muscles “falling asleep” or not firing properly, I would 100% recommend this Compex Sport Elite Stim. That said, if sore, tired, and tight muscles are what’s plaguing you, veer your search more towards massage tools.
The second tool that I wanted to highlight hits a little bit closer to home (home being massage guns, of course). Ever rolled out on a lacrosse or tennis ball before? Maybe even a golf ball? Well, Hyperice borrowed inspiration from these common implements in the development of their Hypersphere. The difference? They added vibrating capabilities! On the surface, this sounds incredible. It’s small enough that it’s easy to travel with and lets you pinpoint areas with a bit more precision – one of my favorite places to use the ball is the hamstring/glute insertion. While it does a great job on larger muscle groups where you can really apply your weight down onto the ball, a small, shaking ball is quite hard to control!
With that in mind, it lacks some versatility that Hyperice’s vibrating roller or massage guns provide. For example, whenever I roll out, I like to hit my glutes, hamstrings, quads, and then finish off with the calves. The Hypersphere is A+ on the glutes and hamstring but when I transition to the calves, I just can’t keep it under neath me! The little thing has a way of bouncing and flying all over the place and that’s the last thing I want when I’m trying to get in a good recovery session. In addition to this challenge, I’ve noticed that the position of the on/off button is such that I occasionally accidentally turn it off while using it. Again, not the end of the world, but not ideal either. At the end of the day, the Hypersphere can get the job done but requires the help of gravity (putting your body weight into the ball). If I were deciding between the Hypersphere and the massage gun, I would choose the gun 10/10 times. The force applied through a massage gun, like Theragun for example, is such that I can hold the gun in my hand and administer the massage without having to contort my body in an uncomfortable position, as is often the case with the Hypersphere. Not to mention, the gun can be used on more muscle groups with greater precision given its swappable massage heads.
So, there you have it, two more fitness and recovery tools that you can add to your arsenal. As you’ve likely noticed by now, I recognize the merit of many other tools but when it comes to effectiveness and versatility, I go with the gun every time!