Since I hurt my knee running 3 months ago, my foam roller and I have become attached at the hip- almost literally. The minute the words “IT band” were even whispered, shouts of “foam roll, foam roll, foam roll!” could be heard from all directions.

self massage tools : foam roller or the stick


And those shouts were right: foam rolling makes a huge difference in injury recovery, and even more importantly- injury prevention.

foam roller

My foam roller is almost as well traveled as I am- it’s accompanied me on many adventures this summer, from MD to VA and all over NC.

But lugging a 3 foot plus foam tube around with you isn’t without its difficulties- and strange glances. And though it probably deserves to, the foam roller isn’t exactly the best use of the 2 carry-on bag restriction on planes these days.

Enter The Stick.

the stick

The foam roller’s baby cousin.

Both the foam roller and the stick are meant to serve the same purpose: self massage.

More precisely, myofascial release. The poor girl’s daily sports massage.

Stretching is great, but it doesn’t get rid of knots in the muscle (known as trigger points).

The foam roller & the stick can. But when to use which one?

self massage tools

Let the showdown begin:

The Foam Roller The Stick
Uses body weight for pressure Uses hands to push stick into muscle
Good for holding over trigger points Good for rolling across muscle
Comes in different firmnesses Comes in different lengths
Good for use at home or gym Good for travel or portable use

In the end it comes down to personal preference, but each has it’s own benefits.

For me, the stick travels with me; the foamroller stays home. I prefer the foam roller for specific trigger spots, and the stick for general muscle massage. The foam roller works better for hips, and the stick works better for the neck & back.

Sometimes it’s awkward to hold yourself up to use the foamroller, so the stick can come in handy for those times- I think it’s less awkward (and feels better) to use the stick for calves than the foam roller, but I think the foam roller feels better on quads.

(Plus, your friends will thank you when you travel bearing massages in the form of the stick:)

stick massage

So until they start packaging up sports massage therapists and selling them for under $25, the stick & foam roller it’ll be.

Are you a foam rolling fan or a stick/tiger tail fan?