The easy, inexpensive secret to pain-free joints and muscles: foam recovery tools

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Girl working out with foam stick on bench.
Foam rollers prevent and alleviate aches and pains. (Photo: Amazon)

Planning a fitness reset for spring? Fantastic. Whether your goal is to hit the gym more, attend regular group classes or just walk every day, there's something that can help your body ramp up and cool down — and feel better overall. What's that? Recovery tools.

Foam rollers and massage balls are great for targeting sore areas, warming up muscles pre-workout and alleviating tightness that pulls on joints. They mold to your body and give just enough pressure to provide much-needed relief.

Helping your muscles recover after a tough workout by rolling can even prevent injury. Rolling improves circulation, too. And the cherry on top? It feels great. Not sure which recovery tool to buy? TriggerPoint foam rollers and massage balls are super-popular with Amazon shoppers. We feature a handful of favorites below.

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

Girl stretching out with blue foam roller.
Release muscles daily, for well below the price of a massage. (Photo: Amazon)

You know that feeling you get while stretching when it hurts — but in a good way? Shoppers say this foam roller gives just the feeling. Rated a near-perfect 4.7 stars (82 percent of the nearly 7,000 reviewers gave it a perfect 5 stars), this tool can be taken anywhere with you: the gym, the living room, a vacation, you name it!

One happy (and stretched-out) user wrote: “Amazing for injury prevention and treatment. Perfect for those that have not been motivated to start exercising either because they're too tired or sore or too out of shape to start.This is both simple to use and very enjoyable and [yields] great results quickly. The size is just right for me. Any longer, and it would be a bit too unwieldy, especially when working some of the smaller body parts, yet it's plenty big for my larger muscle groups. For athletes, this is a must.”

$33 $40 at Amazon

TriggerPoint Foam Massage Ball

Lime green, black and white recovery ball.
Choose from a 2.6 inch or a 5 inch ball. (Photo: Amazon)

If your aches and pains go beyond the usual sore muscles, consider this deep-tissue foam massage ball. Available in two sizes (plus an extra-firm option), the ball is perfect for targeting super-tight spots. Have a hard-to-reach ache on your lower back? Pin the massage ball between your body and a wall, do a little dance and you’ll be able to release that spot easy peasy!

A tip from us: You can use the smaller-sized ball on bare feet. Just take your shoes off, stand up and roll the massager on the bottom of the foot. It’s a spot that doesn’t get enough love, and the relief is instant. Your body weight provides as much or as little pressure as you like.

“This little thing is quite impressive,” wrote one user. “I use it specifically for my neck since I am on the road for many hours at a time, so I tend to have a sore neck throughout the day. I can comfortably drive while resting the ball between [the back of my] neck and the headrest in the car.”

$28 at Amazon

TriggerPoint STK Handheld Massage Stick

Orange and black massage stick
Roll hard-to-reach spots, including calves, hamstrings and lower back. (Photo: Amazon)

For those who prefer the control of a foam roller, this model has ergonomic handles that make targeting sore spots so much easier. It's like a rolling pin for your body. Remember that good kind of pain we were talking about earlier? This’ll get you there — quick!

“I call this thing my Satan Stick, because, holy hell, do you feel it!,” wrote one reviewer. “I have terrible problems with my IT bands and use this on a regular basis to roll out my legs. It definitely helps loosen things and gets the blood flowing, but you will develop a love-hate relationship with this thing worse than any ex you've ever dated. I use it myself on certain muscle groups, but to really dig in there on other spots it works best to have someone else roll it out for you. It could even be someone who doesn't like you, because they will get to watch you writhe in pain as this thing loosens up bits that have been tight since that wild tailgate party back in college where the guy wearing the horse mask hit you with a stick when he missed swinging at the liquor pinata. You will be glad you bought this while simultaneously regretting it and cursing the person who invented this for generations to come.”

$40 at Amazon

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

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