3 / 7
Why it’s great: Take what you love about the lacrosse ball and double it. The peanut’s two-headed design is ideal for using along your spine and neck. “You don’t want to put things directly on your spine, but the peanut allows the bony part to sit between the two balls,” says Armstrong. She recommends the tool for releasing the suboccipital muscles, A.K.A. the area right where your head meets your neck and is often tight—and headache-inducing!—for desk-workers.
How to use it: Lying on the floor with your knees bent, place the peanut horizontally right at the base of your skull. Then, lightly tuck your chin to push your neck into the tool. Hold it for 5 seconds then release and repeat for about a minute. “You should feel a bit of relief as you go,” says Armstrong.
Triggerpoint Universal Massage Roller, $27, sportchek.ca
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Why it’s great: “For very sensitive areas, it’s helpful to use something with a larger surface area to distribute the force,” says Cheung. Plus, you can cover off big muscle groups—like your IT bands, quads and calves—faster. You can find foam rollers with different firmness levels, and some add little nubs to help you dig deeper. Pick whatever feels best for you, though a smooth, soft design can help keep things comfortable for newbies. (Related: Here are other reasons you need a foam roller.)
How to use it: It can take a bit of experimentation (and sometimes, awkward positions) to find your best foam-roll method. No matter which muscles you’re targeting, you’ll need to get down on the floor over the foam roller and glide your body back and forth to work the area. For example, to tackle your quads, lie face down with one thigh on the foam roller and your forearms on the ground, then seesaw yourself to roll from the hip bone to a few inches above your knee (steer clear of joints!).
Everlast 4-Inch EPP Foam Roller, $30, thebay.com
5 / 7
Why it’s great: The hook shape lets you get into hard-to-reach spots without having to contort yourself or, even, get off your couch. Ever feel like your shoulders are inching up towards your ears? A Thera-Cane offers an easy way to release those stressed-out traps (short for trapezius, the upper-back muscles that can feel oh-so tender when we’re tense). (Find out why you have shoulder blade pain.)
How to use it: Place the knob at the end of the hook into any sore, squishy—not bony—spots in your upper or mid back, then pull on the handle to add steady pressure for 30 seconds to a minute. If you’re really tight or knotted, it’s likely to hurt, but should still be tolerable. “You don’t want any sharpness or referred nerve pain,” advises Armstrong.
Thera-Cane, $55, amazon.ca