The Best Foam Rollers and Massagers for People Who Sit All Day

A physical therapist recommends four products she swears by to undo the damage of sitting all day.

by Hudson Lindenberger
Originally Published: 

We exist in a sedentary society, where most of our time is spent sitting down — in front of screens, in cars, at desks — and our bodies are taking a beating.

“Humans are not meant to stay in one spot for extended periods of time, our bodies need movement,” says Dr. Nicole Haas, PT, DPT, OCS and the owner of PT Boulder.“When we sit in one place all day and only use a few muscle groups, it creates imbalances and issues. So when you stand up and call upon all of your muscle groups to activate your body struggles.”

What can you do to offset the damage that is being inflicted while you sit and restore flexibility? One of the best, per Haas, is to stretch at the end of the day, enlisting massagers, foam rollers, and other accessories to undo the kinks that have built up in your immobile body. To that end, here are four excellent massagers Haas recommends to her clients that are ideal for people who sit all day.

OPTP Silver AXIX Foam Roller

The foam roller has been a staple of gyms and physical therapy offices for decades, and for good reason: It provides targeted release to whatever part of the body you use it on, is simple to use, and costs next to nothing. This six-inch roller is firm but not rock hard to allow you to dig into your myofascial tissues to release tensions that have built up and is small enough you can pack it with you on trips.

Try It: Haas suggests using the foam roller by laying down on it perpendicularly, while using your hands to support your head. Draw your elbows inward toward each other to expose the area between your shoulder blades, then use your legs to bridge upward slightly and then to roll up and down on your upper back. Be careful not to roll directly on your neck or low back.

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RAD Rounds

These three small silicone balls are the perfect item to have in a desk drawer. Firmer than a tennis ball, but softer than a golf ball, they’re ideal, per Haas, for rolling out sore spots in your lower back, or release tension in your hamstrings.

Try It: Haas recommends using the smaller one to deal with an issue that she sees copping up more frequently these days—carpel tunnel syndrome. She suggests doing taking the small black round ball and either roll it between your two hands to use one hand to roll it on the desk to release the finger “intrinsics” that get overused as you type away through your day. Do it as often as you can during the day, plus you can also roll your forearms over it too to release tension there too.

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RAD Roller

The Rad Roller is Haas’ favorite item to recommend to her patients. Two silicone balls attached side-by-side, it lets you massage all the major muscles groups that struggle from sitting for extended periods of time. It’s also small enough to in any desk drawer and is easy to toss in a bag.

Try It: What Haas really likes it for is releasing the tension that builds up in her patient’s necks during the day from hunching forward staring at the screen. A simple release you can do is place it between your shoulder blades against the back of your chair (the prominent part of your spine should fit in the groove in the center of the roller). Lean back against it and then reach arms up overhead as you inhale, then slowly lower as you exhale.

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The Stick

Walking helps lubricate your thigh muscles and hip flexors. When you sit all day, these muscles become rigid, which can cause an imbalance and lead to strains when you do start moving — especially if you are heading to the gym straight from work. The free-moving one-inch spindle surrounding the core of the Stick, per Haas, allows you to dig into your muscles effectively, rolling them out right at your desk.

Try it: Haas recommends is to start at the top of your thigh muscles and roll up and down your quadriceps front, back, and both sides to release the tension on the attachments at your hips and knees. Be careful not to roll over any bony prominences and know that lighter is better versus pushing down hard to help your body release the tightness.

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