1) R8 from Roll Recovery
I own pretty much every major trigger point/roller device known to runnerkind. When I first saw this one, I was really intrigued. The device applies its own pressure so you don't have to press down with a lot of force like The Stick or use your own body weight like you do with a foam roller. I'm not saying having to support your own body weight is a bad aspect of foam rolling, but it is often a limiting factor (especially in my pre-injury weenie upper body strength days). Also, there is no way to travel with a Stick or foam roller easily. I have heard mixed stories about whether TSA will confiscate Sticks (for the record, I have gotten my Kid Stick through security once with no issues) and there is no way a standard foam roller is going to fit in my carry-on. This thing was fairly pricey, but I figured it was comparable to a sports massage that keeps giving.
The first time I used it, the only thing I could thing was, "Oww!" My husband claims the pressure is so great, it hurts too much to use. I disagree. I think it does a good job of applying needed pressure. When I thoroughly roll my upper legs I get the "loose and free" sensation I have only ever experienced after first standing up after a sports massage.
My adductors were a big problem area for me and it is pretty much impossible to get in there good with a foam roller. The R8 is amazing for the inner thigh area. It also does a great job on hamstrings, quads, and the IT band. Pretty much the entire upper leg. With the double-sided action you are also rolling two areas at the same time.
|I've found using it this way vs. the above way applies a different type of pressure.|
I am petite and I can just get this sucker up onto my glute area. It is enough of a challenge that I prefer to use the foam roller for my glutes instead (rolling your glutes with a foam roller is really just sitting on a foam roller so that is easy enough). I believe this is an invaluable part the arsenal, I don't think it is going to totally replace every self-massage device. But I really believe it gets the job done better and easier than any other self-massage device for all the areas you can use it on.
I have not tried this on my lower legs because you have to find a way to protect your shin bone while you are rolling your calves. I've heard of people putting towels there to protect the shin, but I have other rolling devices that work well for the calves so I haven't bothered to try that yet. I have had to tighten the bolts up a few times with a screwdriver but the R8 seems like a solid piece of equipment that will last a long time.
2) Grid Mini
After I purchased my R8, Trigger Point Therapy came out with the Grid Mini. I have had a regular size Grid for several years and it is far superior to your cheap styrofoam roller. I rarely check any luggage when I travel and there is no way to take The Grid with me. I had purchased the R8 with the intent to use it as my traveling tool. But around the time the Grid Mini was released, we had a trip planned and my problem area was my glutes. So I snapped one of these guys up to take with me on the trip. You can attach it to the exterior of your bag so it won't take up any space at all.
|Grid Mini Hawaii bound (And this photo also shows the two best pieces of race swag I have ever gotten: Backpack from the Austin Marathon and a water bottle from the US Half Marathon -- I've used both regularly for years)|
The downsides to the Mini vs. the regular Grid are: 1) Because it is not as long, it is also less rigid and I can tell there is more flex than with the regular Grid. This means the pressure you get from it is not as great. 2) Because it is skinny you have to have the line of direction you want to roll exactly parallel to the roller or you will fall off (this makes areas like adductors which are on a diagonal roll pattern very difficult).
I consider the cons to be tolerable given to ability to take your roller with you on the go easily. I would not say it is a substitute to owning a regular size roller, though.
3) Pro-Tec Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap
I have been plagued with chronic shin splints since 2005. All these years when I wanted to ice them, I would wrap an Ace bandage around and around and around and around my shin to hold a frozen pack there. The wrap wouldn't always hold secure and when you give yourself 5 minutes after a run pre-work to do what needs 10 minutes, it was a major pain to spend time wrapping it on and then taking it off again. The Pro-Tec Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap probably comes in many different variations from oodles of companies. But it is the one I found and I wish I had gotten one sooner. There is a pocket you can slide your gel pack into (it can be frozen or heated) and then you just velcro the sucker on wherever you need it. Two seconds on, one second off, and very easy to adjust the tightness and compression factor.
|So simple. Don't ask why I didn't get one earlier.|
My massage therapist recommended I heat, massage, ice, and then heat my adductor. I had a few of the gel packs already that can be frozen or microwaved so I have one that stays thawed and a couple that stay frozen all the time. At one point I was using it so much that I bought a second one so I could ice my adductor and knee at the same time. I took one with me on my above mentioned Hawaii trip. My dad rolled his ankle on a run while I was home so I let him have my second one since he had lots of ice packs but no way to attach them to his body. So I'm down to one again and hopefully I'll never have a need to ice two places at the same time again!