Friday, 13 April 2012

Trigger Point Therapy roller - The Grid - Review

As you may or may not know, I am a fan of foamrollers - for self massage and myo-fascial release. We own a fair few, ranging from the soft to the ridiculously hard.
One of the main players out there on the running and triathlon scene is “Trigger Point Therapy" range which creates not only Foam Rollers, but also other things like a Massage Ball, and some other things called Quadballers and Footballers.

The Trigger Point Foam roller is called The Grid. It is made of a piece of tube (much like a 4inch drainpipe), and covered with a foam rubber like material, which has a number of ridges and bumps on which are meant to feel like a massage therapists fingers, elbows or the flat of the palm- depending on which surface you use.
It is retailing for about £45 or so in the UK (depending on where you buy it from)

Is it any better or any worse than any of the other rollers on the market?

I published my first thoughts on the roller a few months ago, but really wanted to give it a bit of time before giving any solid thoughts on it and how much I have actually used it.

Do the Nobbles and Bobbles work?

The Bobbles and Nobbles.
Once I got it out of the box, and begin to roll on it, it was evident it was a foam roller. 
Not much more, not much less. As advertised, it has a number of little bobbles and nobbles in it, which, as mentioned above are meant to mimic various types of strokes and parts of a massage therapists tools. To begin with I tried experimenting with the different surfaces, trying to find whether it made all that much of a difference or not.
The short answer is no, I don’t think it does.

When rolling down a hamstring or a quad, the length of the muscle is such that you use the entire roller. If you wish to precisely target a particular area of the muscle with a particular part of the pattern you can, but it just isn’t worth it.
Smaller muscles, again, the patterns, although they look pretty, I found no benefit in using the flat bit or the bobbly bit. So the nitty gritty bits- not all that fantastic.

What does it feel like in general?
It is actually quite a nice roller. Not too hard or soft. The hard internal tube covered with soft external foam rubber is good in design terms, because over a long period of use, even if the foam rubber does start getting softer, the roller with retain its rigidity. (A problem with other rollers which are uniformly one material throughout tend to get softer over time with a lot of use).
It is light and wieldy, and despite the reservations I had about its size- being a bit smaller than any other rollers I have had and used in the past, I was surprised and pleased that it was so good. 
Ok, so it is not quite as versatile as a 40 or 50cm long roller, but for the vast majority of things, it works just fine. The compact size, and the fact it is hollow make it pretty useful for travelling with as well. Another plus.

Over the past 3 months it has been the most used roller in the house.
Why is this?
Partially because I wanted to test it, but also, partially because it looks like a toy. It doesn’t have the forbidding quality of the black polystyrene roller of death, nor is it small like the white closed cell foam roller that we first bought. Its more like a Fischer Price toy, more like an Executive Desk Amusement Time Killer than something you use to keep soft tissue healthy. It is that almost psychological advantage of a well presented piece of kit over a tube of foam which makes you want to use it as you walk through a room.

Is it any better at what a foam roller is meant to do?
No. Not really. One foam roller is much the same as another. The hardness, length and diameter of the roller is pretty much dependent on which one you buy. The patterned effect on the Grid, to me, is pretty much a non-starter, so in terms of buying a roller, if you want something that is effective, you really really don’t have to spend anything like this kind of money on one. 

Back when I first got it, I was wondering if it occupied its own niche in terms of hardness/squidginess, or if it would double up as a partially soft, partially hard roller for all occasions. 
I do use it more, but mostly because I barely use the soft roller anymore, it's like I have grown out of it.  TP roller is a good replacement for it without being too hard. I'm looking for excuses to say that I would use it less, but to be honest, it is now the most used roller in the house. 

If you are a little on the roller-shy side, or just have one sitting in the corner which you occasionally look at and think- "yup- that’s a foam roller", maybe- just maybe, spending some more cash on an expensive one might guilt trip you into using it. Maybe the fact it looks kind of cool might make you use it more. If that is the only reason you buy it- then yes, it is worth the money. 
A foam roller that is used is much better than one sitting in the corner, no matter how much you may or may not have spent.

Although this is a very used piece of equipment, I suspect it may be simply because it is the newest, and therefore, least beaten up roller in the house. I don't know if it will get tired and rubbish in the long term, but looking at the construction, I suppose not.  I am wondering if it would be possible to make one with a piece of drainpipe, an old foam camping mat and some superglue, but have not yet started experimenting. 

All in all, its a good bit of kit, well made, well used, but if you are motivated to use a roller no matter what you spend and no matter what it looks like, to be honest, I still wouldn’t spend more than £20 on one.

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