Guide to Selecting Foot Massagers for Runners and Athletes

Exercising, running, and playing sports are some of the most tiring but fulfilling activities that we can do. These activities are tiring because of how much you have to move, but they are fulfilling because of how well they can make your body fitter and healthier.

However, after many hours of running and playing a specific sport, you will most likely feel pain in different parts of your body, and the parts that will most likely experience a lot of pain and soreness are your feet. Fortunately, there is a certain item that we can use to alleviate the pain in our feet. This item is called a foot massager, and using it is fairly simple. To know more, here is the guide to selecting foot massagers for runners and athletes.

What is a Foot Massager?

electric foot massager

A foot massager is a tool or device that is specifically used to massage the feet, mainly the soles, where most of the pain comes from after running, playing sports, or exercising. Most foot massagers have rolling pins that have spikes or studs on their surface, and these studs are then the ones responsible for massaging the foot by applying gentle pressure on the skin and the muscles.

The pressure that the foot massager applies on your feet can reduce the pain while also reducing the inflammation or soreness in the affected areas. Moreover, foot massagers can also help in improving the blood circulation in the feet, which is then important to make sore and painful areas heal faster. 

There are different kinds of foot massagers to choose from, and we will talk about each of these kinds in detail later. There are foot massagers that are powered by electricity or batteries, and there are also some that don’t require batteries or connection to an electrical outlet for them to work. 

For electric or electronic foot massagers, the pressure applied to your feet is automatic, while for manual massagers, you will need to place them on the floor and then roll their pins using your feet to apply pressure on painful areas.

Why Runners and Athletes Need Foot Massagers

rolling pins on massagers

Although foot massagers are beneficial for everyone, runners and athletes would usually get a lot more use from the massaging tool or device. Here are the main reasons why runners and athletes need foot massagers.

1. Can Help in Alleviating Muscle Pain

The biggest benefit of foot massagers is that they can help alleviate muscle pain, which is inevitable whenever you are running or playing sports for hours. To loosen up swollen and painful muscles, you will need a foot massager that is effective in kneading the tissues in your feet. 

Muscles experience too much pain whenever there is too much tension or strain in the tissues, and with a foot massager, you can make those tissues more relaxed since the massager will knead them to their normal position or appearance.

2. Can Help Prevent Injuries

getting injured while running

Muscle pain can often lead to injuries like ankle sprain and plantar fasciitis, so it is important to treat the muscle pain quickly using foot massagers. As a runner or an athlete, you would have to stay in top shape for as long as possible. Once you get injured, you won’t be able to run or play sports for weeks or months, and this would then prevent you from staying in top shape since exercising is also prohibited. 

So, to avoid a situation where you can’t play or run because of an injury, you will have to treat any pain that you feel on your feet before they get worse. In addition, you may also want to rest for a few days if the pain is severe. Always prioritize resting if you are feeling a lot of pain on different areas of your body instead of just enduring it.

3. Promotes Better Blood Flow

Better blood circulation, as we have discussed earlier, is effective in making muscle pain heal faster, as fresh blood that is regulated and delivered by the circulatory system can help decrease soreness or inflammation in the muscles.

Foot massagers basically work similarly to wearing compression sleeves for running or sports, as they compress specific areas of your foot muscles and stimulate the veins to deliver more blood to your feet. However, unlike compression sleeves, the compression that foot massagers provide isn’t permanent, as the massagers knead instead of compressing your muscles continuously. For better results in terms of blood flow, you should combine wearing compression sleeves during your runs or games and using the foot massager to relieve muscle pain.

4. Provides Relaxation

relaxing foot massage

Another benefit of foot massagers is that they provide relaxation, which can then help in making you calmer and more at ease mentally. Besides our physical health, we should also take care of our mental health, as our mental stability is essential in making better choices or strategies while running a marathon or playing a specific sport. 

When our mental health is jeopardized, we would often have a difficult time making quick decisions, especially in games that are fast-paced. By using foot massagers, we will be able to give ourselves a few minutes of relaxation while also letting our feet heal. 

The kneading movements that foot massagers apply to our feet feel very calming, and most of the time, we are just sitting comfortably on a sofa or chair while our feet are being massaged. So, if you are feeling stressed or mentally tired after a game or a run, you can try using a foot massager not only to relieve the pain in your feet but also to get much-deserved relaxation.

The Types of Foot Massagers You Should Know About

Different types of foot massagers are available online and in physical stores, and for you to know which ones are the best based on your preferences, you will need to know the basic features of each type. So, here are the types of foot massagers and the details you should know about them.

1. Rolling Foot Massager

rolling foot massager

The rolling foot massager, also called a manual massager, is the type of massager that doesn’t need batteries or electrical power for it to work. Most rolling foot massagers have one or more rolling pins that are attached to a wooden or plastic frame, and the pins would have studs or spikes that are used to apply pressure to the painful areas of the feet.

To use a rolling foot massager, you would need to place the massager on the floor first. Then, roll the rolling pins using your foot so that the pressure is applied to all areas of your soles. There are rolling foot massagers that have pins with different sizes of studs and spikes, so you can use a specific pin with bigger studs to apply more pressure to your foot.

What’s great about rolling foot massagers is that they are portable, so you can bring them with you during your games, runs, or workouts at the gym. If the manual massager is relatively small, it can fit nicely inside gym bags or backpacks. There are also massagers that are much smaller than the usual floor massagers, and these smaller ones have a handle so that you can just roll them on your feet using your hands instead of placing them on the floor.

2. Air Compression Foot Massager

air compression therapy for the feet and legs

Next on the list is the air compression foot massager, which is an electric massager that uses compressed air to apply pressure to your feet. The air compression foot massager can massage your feet with the use of pockets on the surface of the device that can be filled with compressed air. Then, the compressed air will be pumped into the pockets, and then the air will be decompressed in just a few seconds the simulate the “kneading” movement of a real massage. 

Air compression massagers can also help in improving blood circulation in the legs and feet. The ability of air compression massagers to enhance blood flow is one of the reasons why many runners and athletes use them, as they are particularly effective in healing sore muscles faster.

Most air compression foot massagers you will find online are powered by electricity, but there are also battery-powered options. However, the downside to battery-powered foot massagers is that they don’t provide the same amount or level of pressure that electric massagers offer for your feet. In addition, you may also need to replace batteries or recharge them every now and then since massagers consume a lot of batteries.

3. Kneading Foot Massagers

kneading foot massager

Kneading foot massagers are another type of electric massager that automatically offers pressure for the feet to heal pain, inflammation, and soreness. But the difference with the kneading foot massager compared to the air compression version is that the former has spheres with embedded studs and spikes on its surface as opposed to compressed air.

These spheres are the ones that apply pressure on the feet by rotating and moving in different directions on the massagers. There are usually more than two spheres in kneading foot massagers, and large massagers would even have spheres on the sides that can massage your ankles and lower legs.

4. Water Jet Foot Massager

water jet foot massager

The water jet massager provides not only a proper massage for your feet but also a nice foot bath that can help in reducing pain and inflammation while also making your feet feel more relaxed and comfortable. The water jet that is built into the massager releases water that can have an adjusted temperature, so you can make it hotter or colder, depending on your preference.

Of course, the machine wouldn’t be called a massager if it didn’t have pins or spheres that apply pressure on your feet. The water jet massager has pins and spheres at the bottom so that your soles will have a gentle but effective massage.

What to Look for When Buying Foot Massagers

There are already hundreds of different foot massagers that you can buy online and in physical shops, but out of those, only a few are considered to be the best at providing the best massage to the people that need it on their feet. Here are some of the tips you can follow so that you will have an easier time finding the best foot massagers for you.

1. Check Reviews First

a new water jet foot massager

In order to make your search for the best foot massagers faster, you should always check reviews first. If you have found an interesting foot massager online, you should know its model name or number and then search reviews for it. The reviews are usually available on review websites, forums, and blogs, although there are also a lot of reviews that you can read in online stores where you can buy foot massagers.

Reviews will give you a better idea of what to expect from the foot massagers you plan to buy, and these expectations include their best features, their ergonomics, their portability, and their pros and cons. Instead of checking out foot massagers one by one in physical stores, which could take hours to do, you can just read reviews that will only take you a few minutes to finish. So, reviews can also save you a lot of time when it comes to finding a suitable foot massager.

You can check out these foot massagers with plenty of positive online reviews:

  • TheraFlow Foot Massager (Large) – this large version of the TheraFlow Foot Massager features ten rolling pins, with five pins for each foot. The first four pins have short spikes that apply gentle pressure on the feet, while the last two pins at the top have taller studs that are used to put more pressure on the soles.
  • Snailax Foot Massager – an electric foot massager that features air compression for the lower legs that can be adjustable for up to three levels of pressure. In addition, it also has shiatsu rollers at the bottom that provide deep kneading massage for the soles of your feet.
  • Snailax Shiatsu Foot Massager – another product from Snailax is the Shiatsu Foot Massager, which is much smaller compared to the other massager, but it has more shiatsu rollers at the bottom to give your soles a better massager. This massager also has a built-in heat pad to serve as a foot spa or to simply keep your feet warm during colder seasons.
  • CURECURE Foot Spa Bath Massager – this is a great water jet foot spa that features 16 mini rollers at the bottom that apply ample pressure on the soles of your feet. The temperature of the water that is pumped out by the massager can be adjusted.
  • FIT KING Leg Air Massager – an air compression massager that provides not only pressure and massage for your feet but also your calves and ankles. The intensity of the pressure offered by this massager can be adjusted for up to three levels.

2. Buy Massagers that Can Easily Be Cleaned

After weeks or months of use, it is inevitable for the foot massager to be dirty, especially if you are using it after working out or running outdoors. So, if you don’t want the hassle of cleaning the foot massager for many hours, you should find one that is relatively easy to clean.

For massagers that have foot sleeves, you should look for those that have removable foot sleeves so that you can easily clean them without the need to carry the whole machine. For manual massagers, you can just look for wooden massagers that are much easier to clean compared to plastic ones, which often have crevices and gaps that can be hard to clean due to dirt or grime buildup.

3. Get Foot Massagers with Adjustable Features

foot massager with buttons for adjustments

If you want your foot massager to have customizable intensity or pressure, then you should get one that has adjustable features or multiple settings. These adjustable foot massagers allow you to set how much pressure you want the pins or spheres to produce, and there is even an option for some massagers where you can set the temperature of the massager’s surface. 

The customizable settings are suitable for athletes and runners, as their feet may sometimes feel painful to go through the normal pressure or settings on the massager. For that situation, the massagers should have an option for lower settings that provide less pressure for the feet.

There are also foot massagers where you can change the speed of the pins or spheres, as well as where they will move on the surface of the massager. So, you can set the spheres or the compressed air to move in a different pattern compared to the regular or standard pattern. Look for these adjustable and versatile foot massagers so that you can customize your foot massage experience.

Focus on Portability

If you want a foot massager that you can bring almost anywhere at home or outdoors, you would have to find a massager that is compact and portable. There are many battery-powered foot massagers that you can buy today, but they are still too large to fit in a bag or in most boxes. 

If you want the best massager in terms of portability, you should just get a manual massager since it is much smaller compared to other types, making it the most portable option. Furthermore, a portable massager is also ideal for runners and athletes, as they can bring their trusty massagers anywhere and use them anytime whenever they feel foot pain.

Foot massagers are fairly simple tools or devices to use, but you would need to find the best ones so that you will have a better and more convenient experience utilizing their features. We hope that this guide helps in deciding what foot massager to buy and what exactly to look for in one. 

If you are experiencing muscle pain in a lot of areas of your body, then you can consider having a full massage at a spa. You can also visit a physical therapist to see what he or she can recommend in order to reduce the amount of pain you are feeling in your body after a long run, a workout, or a game.