Man lunging in the gym
Lifestyle

The Best Stretching Tools You Can Buy, Ranked

You'll wake up tight forever if you don't do something about it.
By Will Price
May 21, 2024

Our product recommendations are selected by editors, tested first-hand, or expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site.

Stretching goes hand-in-hand with recovery, which is as important a part of your overall fitness regimen as food and sleep. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with bending over to touch your toes or pulling your elbow down behind your head, there are tools to take your stretching routine to a higher plane. In this guide, we’ve tested and rounded up several of the absolute best there are. 

Is There a “Best” Stretching Tool?

No, of course not. The best tool is the right one for the job you have. There is not an all-encompassing stretching aid that cures all ailments, just like there isn’t one diet that everyone should stick to for six-pack abs (though keto, intermittent fasting, or even carnivore diet followers might suggest otherwise). If you find your lower back is tight when you wake up and when you’re going to sleep, you wouldn’t address it with an ankle stretcher, and so on. There are a number of more general stretching tools that cover more parts of your body, but it’s important to first identify your problem areas, then go from there. 

What to Look for in a Stretching Tool

Identify the area you want to stretch

First, answer the “what.” Are you looking for a full-body tool you can use pre- or post-workout or are you looking for a solve to a particular ache or pain? Figure out the “what” before doing any shopping. 

Consistency is key

Once you’ve solved the “what,” look for any features that keep the tool in your daily rotation. Much like exercise, the best stretching routine is the one you’ll do the most. Mobility and flexibility is a long game, which means it’s more important that you approach your stretching routine with consistency rather than brute forcing fewer, more irregular sessions.

Lifestyle fit

How big is the tool? Could you toss it in your gym bag? Would it fit in your carry-on? If you can take it with you, it becomes part of your everyday carry setup, which means you’re more likely to use it. Will it slide under your couch so you can slip 10 minutes in while watching Game of Thrones for the fifth time? Consider the moments you’ll actually use these things, then make certain you buy a product that fits into that outline. 

Recover faster

The Best Stretching Tools on the Market

TRX HOME2 System

Best full-body stretching tool

There are approximately one zillion movements a TRX system enables you to do, and perhaps the most slept on of them all involve stretching. Hips, lats, chest, shoulders, back, hamstrings, calves, and virtually every other sector of your body can be directly targeted by the right application of ropes and cables attached to walls. TRX equipment comes with a small learning curve as you find your feet with non-standard fitness equipment, but its versatility is immense. If you’re looking for a great stretching tool (and gym), it’s difficult to beat TRX’s HOME2 setup.

Pros
  • Enables nearly infinite stretching positions
  • Doubles as a home gym
Cons
  • Large financial commitment
  • Learning curve

Amazon Basics High-Density Foam Roller

Best for back and shoulder stretching

Foam rollers are meant to alleviate soreness, increase blood flow, help you relax, and facilitate muscle recovery. They accomplish this through any number of stretching movements. Foam roller stretches can target hip flexors, quads, shoulders, backs, necks, and any other part of a human body that could do with the right amount of targeted pressure—which is almost all of it. They’re also quite affordable, usually, and jumping up in price isn’t necessary. The top pick in our guide to them is $29, but this $15 Amazon Basics option does the trick for most people just fine.

Pros
  • Affordable for literally anyone
  • Almost a full-body stretching tool
Cons
  • Will have to google stretches
  • Not easy to travel with

OPTP Super Pinky Ball

Best for sore feet

Consider those who doubt the effectiveness of this little pink ball doomed. For $8, you get a 2.5-inch latex rubber ball. To use it, you roll it around muscle groups or body parts that feel tight. It is as simple as that. Because it’s as small as it is, it’s perfect for long travel days. Because it’s as cheap as it is, it’s a no-risk investment. Roll this over tired feet, sore quads, or aching necks and you’ll buy one for every person in your family.

Pros
  • Excellent for traveling
  • Costs less than lunch at McDonald's
  • Numerous stretching options
Cons
  • Made with latex rubber, so unsafe for some users
  • Better for relieving tightness than stretching muscles apart

ProStretch The Original Calf Stretcher

Best for ankle, calf, and heel stretching

Focused stretching tools aren’t for everybody, because we don’t all share the same ailments. This ankle-calf-heel-foot stretcher, certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association, is ideal for anyone who experiences tightness anywhere below the knee, or those suffering from plantar fasciitis or achilles tendonitis. Another plus: you don’t have to spend an hour on Youtube to figure out how to use it. Your heel snaps into the back slot and the elevated plane pushes your forefoot upward, creating an ideal angle for stretching a number of muscles in and around your feet. It is small enough to toss in a bag for a work trip, too, if portability is important to you.

Pros
  • Single-focus design
  • Easy to use
  • Reasonably priced
Cons
  • Doesn't fit feet greater than size 12
  • Doesn't support more than 250 pounds

Chirp Wheel+ Foam Wheel

Best for spinal stretching

Think of the Chirp wheels as slightly more focused foam rollers. Much depends on the size you order, as the largest wheel is great for a full-back stretch while the smallest is best used to work out small, specific kinks in your spinal region. When using the wheel, it’s important to continuously remind yourself of the need to relax. If your muscles are tense as you wheel backward and forward, you won’t stretch as much and you increase the risk of pulling or straining a muscle instead of relieving it.

Pros
  • Targets spinal tightness
  • Supports up to 500 pounds of pressure
Cons
  • Especially small or large users may find it doesn't fit them well
  • Wheel tread picks up dust from floor or carpets

Pso-Rite

Best for lower back and abdominal stretching

The Pso-Rite is something of a cult hero for folks with extremely tight lower backs. At first, using one can be, and probably will be, painful. The sculpture-looking tool presses two hard plastic arms on either side of your lower back, working a massively important muscle group known as the psoas, which is largely ignored by most people and therefore usually quite stiff (in our review of the Pso-Rite, the reviewer, a certified personal trainer, wrote as much).After a few sessions, the muscles around your lower back begin to unwind a bit, and the Pso-Rite’s strange design begins to make sense. You can also use a Pso-Rite to stretch thighs, traps, and hips as well. It must be said, though: $80 is fairly steep for a U-shaped piece of plastic, regardless of its quirky effectiveness.

Pros
  • Targeted relief at lower back
  • No-slip rubber on base keeps product in place during use
Cons
  • $80 feels expensive for its size and function
  • Not immediately clear how to use

Theraband Stretch Straps

Best for leg stretching

Remember the stretches you (rather awkwardly) did with a partner in high school gym classes? Therabands let you do them without a stranger’s help. A common site in gymnastic gyms, the straps provide just enough resistance and give to push yourself without overexerting and risking injury. The four-level design also allows for a natural progression as your flexibility improves over time. The fact that this setup costs $24 is the icing on the cake.

Pros
  • Portable
  • Affordable
  • Allows for stretching progression
  • Versatile
Cons
  • Requires some research to get the best use out of them