Product Review: Loosen Up with These Tools
special thanks to The Austonian
Photography by Weston Carls
The recovery tool market has exploded in the last couple years and for good reason. Whether the goal is to maximize performance and gain an edge on the competition, or recover from chronic pain and injury, myofascial release and trigger point therapy are powerful tools to have in your training toolbox. With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know what is worth your money and what is a waste. To help you choose the best products for you, we recently had Lauren Brown, an experienced yoga teacher and movement specialist, hand-pick a range of products to use and review.
TriggerPoint GRID VIBE Roller (featured above)
$100 • tptherapy.com
Best for: larger muscles of the legs and back
On July 14, TriggerPoint debuts the Grid Vibe. They have taken their popular GRID roller and added vibration frequency to the hollow core. It’s also smaller in length and diameter, making it more portable as well as easier to maneuver into smaller body parts. While the price point may cause you to hesitate, it is less than the few others on the market today and the quality is what we expect from TriggerPoint. It is a solid investment if you are ready to upgrade your roll routine.
$20 • sklz.com
Best for: Neck and shoulder trigger points and people with limited mobility
The absolute best product for addressing the hard to get areas in the trapezius, neck, shoulder blades, and back. Rather than fumbling with rollers and balls, this design allows you to apply firm pressure with little effort, so it is fantastic for anyone with limited mobility. The straight sections are perfect for larger tissue such as the hamstrings and quads. For both price and effectiveness, it is my top choice.
The Original Worm 7.0
$33 • theoriginalworm.com
Best for: quads and calves, arms
The firmer of two options from this local Austin company is a great introduction to trigger point therapy rollers. This product is great for rolling out larger muscles of the legs, back, and arms after a tough workout, with less intensity than some of the other products. The size and density are ideal for tender areas such as the abdominals and forearms.
Merrithew Massage Ball
$10 • merrithew.com
Best for: feet, calves, and hands
The spikes on this 3½-inch massage ball work wonders on your feet and lower legs to stimulate circulation and promote healing. It is easy to use while working at your desk or traveling, and it is ideal for relieving tension in your hands and forearms from typing or gripping workouts such as rock climbing.
GoFit Polar Massage Bar
$40 • gofit.net
Best for: quads, hamstrings, and calves
There are a multitude of variations on the stick on the market, but this one adds the benefits of cold therapy to the rolling experience. Since it needs to be cold and the condensation will drip after a while, it isn’t a portable option; however, leave it in the freezer before you head out on your long run and it will be ready for your quads and hamstrings when you return.
Soma System Double Track Roller
$25 • somasystem.com
Best for: muscles along the spine, quads, and arms
Small and easily portable, this ball and roller hybrid is great for the muscles along the spine. It allows for deep, even pressure along both sides of the spine and the grippy texture of the balls keep them from slipping during “pin & stretch” type release work. The density and design is also wonderful for the larger muscles of the arms and legs that need deep pressure, but a lacrosse ball can be awkward to maneuver.
TriggerPoint MB5 Massage Ball
$25 • tptherapy.com
Best for: quads, hamstrings, hips, and back
While they may be most well-known for their grid roller, TriggerPoint has a broad range of products designed to provide quality self-care to the entire body. The density of this ball is perfect for the larger muscle fibers of the legs, back and shoulders. The shape allows for more pressure as well as the ability to move many planes of motion as compared to the single direction roller.
Ethos 6” Tri-Density Recovery Ball
$25 • dickssportinggoods.com
Best for: most major muscle groups, especially legs, hips, and back
This is an update on the smooth massage ball, with three different textures and densities for a variety of areas. All three are quite firm, so this 6” ball is definitely a product to graduate to after using a less intense roller or ball. I especially liked using the dual ridges along the spine and lower legs, following the direction of the muscle fibers to push blood and oxygen through the tissue.