Best Running Gear for Layering: the next edition of Another Mother Runner Gears Up. We have #motherrunners—put key running gear to the test, then deliver the results so you can grab the gear that works best for your running and body. 

By Allison Pattillo

We all know we should roll out, stretch, work on mobility, and generally take care of our bodies to show them a little love for the miles we demand. However, being realistic, how often does that really happen? If you’re anything like me, that foam roller sits in the corner getting dusty. The best recovery gear is something you’ll use and that makes a difference for you. We tested a lot of different gear and came out with a surprising number of favorites. It seems, newness and novelty helps–there’s not a plain foam roller in the bunch. There were so many winners, that we limited featured items to those scoring a four or above. Read on and recover like a pro.

Rock On Athletic Balm

Tester Rating: 5

Review: Made with coconut, olive, and eucalyptus oils, as well as glacial clay and cocoa butter, this mineral rich salve is a treat for sore joints and muscles. It’s dark brown in the container but rubs in easily, leaving no color residue on your skin, and doesn’t have that traditional, and telling, muscle rub scent once applied. Our tester has used this head-to-head with similar products containing CBD, with this doing the best job every time.

Price: $40 CAD for 4oz

Perfect For: Using on sore muscles, massage, and even applying before bed to wake up ready to run.

Get it here:

Addaday Bio6 Massage Pillow


Tester Rating: 5

Review: Who knew a pillow could do so much?! It has heat, and rotating knobs that feel like a masseuse working their knuckles into tight muscles (in a good way!), plus, when used in conjunction with the Addaday app, it suggests what muscle groups to target with the pillow and for how long. It also comes with a car charger, to use on the go (think long car trips and post long run).

Price: $89

Perfect For: Effortless heat and massage muscle recovery with a swipe of your finger.

Get it here:

Trigger Point Handheld Massage Ball

Tester Rating: 5

Review: One tester liked this handheld massage ball option so much, that she plans to gift it to friends and family. Instead of you having to get on the floor to use this massage ball, you simply hold it, roll, and apply pressure where needed, from your neck to your feel, and even while sitting at your desk or binge-watching Bridgerton. It’s compact, making it convenient to toss in a work or gym bag.

Price: $14.99

Perfect For: A “no excuses” recovery tool for someone who is lazy when it comes to consistent recovery.

Get it here: https:

CTM Band

Tester Rating: 4.5

Review: There is a bit of a learning curve with this unique restriction and pressure point device, that combines the effects of compression, tension, and movement (thus CTM) but, when our testers took the time to read the instructions and really figure out how to use it, one found the results to be “phenomenal!” The natural latex rubber band with removeable half disc trigger extensions also looks different than most likely anything you’ve tried. You use it by wrapping the targeted area, then actively stretch for three to five minutes for maximum myofascial release.

Price: $34.95

Perfect For: Someone who’s been struggling with (or wants to avoid) an injury and is ready to try something new.

Get it here: 

Dr. Cohen’s Acuball

Tester Rating: 5

Review: Rare is recovery the product that’s called “a delight,” but that’s exactly what one tester said about this textured acupressure massage ball, that you can even be used with heat by simply putting it in the microwave or boiling water. If you usually use a tennis or lacrosse ball for massaging feet, glutes or hard to reach places, this will be a welcome upgrade. In case you aren’t sure where to begin, there is a detailed guide online.

Price: $29.95

Perfect For: Those who like to find relief using acupressure and heat.

Get it here:

Addaday The Oscillating Sphere Bluetooth

Tester Rating: 5

Review: “As soon as this was charged, I put it between my desk chair and lower back. It worked so well, I now keep it on my desk to use whenever I start to feel tight.” This vibrating massage ball delivers the help you didn’t know you need. Not only can it target hard to reach areas, but it also gives calves and glutes the bonus of a vibrating massage.

Price: $59.95

Perfect For: Anyone who wants a bit of help massaging creaky muscles.

Get it here:

NordicTrack Percussion Massage Recovery Gun

Tester Rating: 5

Review: Three massage speeds, three interchangeable heads, and a 1.5 hour battery life, make this massager a formidable tool for sore muscles. It’s easy to set up, all you have to do is charge it, and go–it’s that simple. As for how and what to massage, start with what hurts, calves, quads, hips, and more will thank you. You can check out videos online to determine the best way to address specific areas. The simplicity and effectiveness of this are truly impressive, it even has a stand to hold the massager and attachments.

Price: $99 at Wal-Mart and other retailers

Perfect For: Savvy shoppers who want a massage gun at a sweet price.

Get it here:

Addaday BioPad EMS A

Tester Rating: 4.8

Review: “This is the greatest recovery product ever. Ever. Ever. The electrical muscle stimulation tingly awesomeness it provides is the romance novel of the recovery gear world. Use it while watching TV, in Zoom meetings, just before sleep. Your muscles will be left in state of deep relaxation.”

There isn’t much more for us to add, save for the reason it didn’t get a perfect score. “It’s a little high-maintenance, but what good stimulator isn’t….”

To explain, the initial set-up took our tester a bit to figure out (online videos and explanation set her straight) and the sticky pads do get a little gross after repeated uses, however she did confess to moving it about various sore muscle groups on her body in one sitting. Replacement pads are available at $30 for four.

Price: $130

Perfect For: Anyone who has chronic muscle tightness.

Get it here:

DPL Nuve Professional Pain Relief Light Therapy

Tester Rating: 4.5

Review: Our tester has chronic pain in one foot and a broken toe on the other. She used this for two weeks, and, while she said it’s hard to know how much it sped healing, she did experience some pain relief, saying it felt like the targeted areas were getting some TLC. The other benefit is that it requires nothing from the user, save for targeting where you want it to treat. The area will feel gentle warmth (nothing like a heating pad) during treatment, and the device turns off after 20 minutes.

Price: $199

Perfect For: Fans of infrared saunas who want to use the same recovery benefits to target specific areas.

Get it here:

Vibe Hex Pro

Tester Rating: 4.5

Review: Don’t let the compact size of this roller fool you. It’s combination of four vibration modes and unique surface pattern replicate massage and cross friction massage techniques to bring welcome relief to sore muscles. The website has awesome informational videos to show how to release and help specific areas, from plantar fascia to psoas to neck pain.

Price: $99

Perfect For: Those who like the passive approach to muscle massage.

Get it here:

Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller

Tester Rating: 4.5

Review: Our tester liked keeping this handy for when she was ready to commit to a recovery roll-out session. The “grid” design mimics the feeling of fingers on the body during a massage, and our tester found the foam to have a bit more give than other rollers she’s tried, something she welcomed because it allowed her to spend more time working on trouble areas. She also declared that the recommended IT Band stretch, included with the packaging materials, “hurt SO GOOD!”

Price: $34.99

Perfect For: A foam roller devotee who wants to up their game.

Get it here:    

Rawlogy Cork Massage Ball Combo Set

Tester Rating: 4.5

Review: If you like to keep your recovery simple and natural, this pair of cork massage balls is for you. The larger one is good to work bigger muscles like your butt, quads and hamstrings, while the smaller one targets calves, and feet (so dreamy!). They are lightweight, portable, and come with detailed how-to instructions.

Price: $27

Perfect For: Tossing in your purse, car, or running pack (they are that light!) to use on the go.

Get it here:

Decathlon Aptonia 500, Small Massage Ball

Tester Rating: 4

Review: Ditch the tennis or lacrosse ball, for this textured massager that is just what sore feet and calves need on-the-go. Toss it in your suitcase, once we start traveling again, to show legs some love before and after your race. Our tester loved rolling this under her feet and also found it to be just right for targeting her sciatica.

Price: $4.99

Perfect For: A simple and effective massage tool that you can afford to buy in duplicate.

Get it here:

The Wave Tool

Tester Rating: 5

Review: If your PT has used a Graston tool on you, this little device may give you pause. But it works. Before you do anything, log onto the Wave Tools Therapy website and watch their how-to videos. Then, be sure to use lotion or muscle rub (like Rock On Clay!) and start small. The brand recommends starting on your hands to get the hang of it. Our tester then progressed to feet before really working her calves, with noticeable improvement after the first session! There is a lot you can do with this tool, as long as you take the time to learn how to use it properly. Once you do, a short treatment session can accomplish a lot. No, it’s not as good as seeing your favorite physical therapist, but this tool will help you make strides (intentional pun) between sessions.

Price: $49.99

Perfect For: Anyone with chronic/niggling overuse injuries or old scars that is ready to try something new.

Get it here:

RAD Helix Roller

Tester Rating: 5

Review: Our tester for this foam roller actually teaches a myofascial release/foam rolling class at her gym, so she knows a thing or two. She liked the groove in the center of the roller to protect the spine. She also said, “The groove and it’s tapered design reallow allow a deeper, targeted release.” And in case you don’t know where to begin, RAD has a free app, that our tester called “fantastic,” for specific rolling instructions for different body areas.

Price: $49

Perfect For: Those who want a portable roller and easy to follow instructions on how to use it.

Get it here:

Check out all of the AMR Gears Up columns here!

Did we miss your favorite running gear for layering?
Let us know in the comments below!