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Review: Stick Rollers

Posted by: on April, 14 2015

Found on AthletesTreatingAthletes.com and written by Leigh Boyle

Review: Stick Rollers
Posted on April 14, 2015 by Leigh Boyle
Stick rollers have come a long way over the past few years. Not only do they now come in all shapes and sizes, but a quick search on Amazon also produces 13,000 hits. I thought I’d take a few minutes to go through some of the features available and what you should thinking about if you’re looking to add one to your self treatment tool kit.

So why a stick roller versus a traditional roller?

Let’s face it. Using a foam roller is hard work. It’s taxing to the whole body to roll around all over it. If you have old wrist/shoulder injuries or a bad back/neck, it can be down right impossible. Enter the stick rollers! These are a great compromise to help you loosen up those muscles and stay on track recovery wise.

Here’s what to consider when buying:

Handles. Up until recently, handles on stick rollers were all the same size and make. In newer models, however, you have some choices. Several manufacturers including trigger point are starting to offer wider platform like handles. If you’re someone with wrist/hand mobility restrictions, then this is definitely something to consider!

Length. Most stick rollers come in two varieties- long and short. The smaller, “travel” versions range from 14 – 18 inches while the longer, “total body” varieties range from 20-20 inches. When choosing a length, it’s important to think about what you’ll be working on. If you’re only concern is legs, for example, the shorter version is fine. If you’re looking to use the sticstick rollersk on your back or upper body, the longer the better.

Firmness/Density. Most stick rollers come in two varieties- regular and extra firm. You may also see this as – firm or flexible. This is definitely an individual preference! However, just a word of caution. Extra firm is not always the best option. In fact, if you’re relying on beating up your muscles with the hardest thing you can find, then you aren’t working on the right areas to loosen up that muscle. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re someone who has a number of tender spots or gets sensitive to rolling easily, then regular firmness or flexible is the best option. Personally, I can’t see a reason why you’d need an extra firm or super dense option. Regular density should be plenty.

Features. While most stick rollers look the same, there are plenty out there using different shapes and textures to help you better work on trigger points and sore muscles. Again, this is an individual preference. If you find yourself using cross friction techniques or looking for ways to dig deeper, then this is where you’ll want to be. In the video below you’ll see a few of the different options in terms of the standard segments, a straight, uniform surface, knobs, etc. My advice? Start with the traditional setup and work your way up to the more aggressive shapes!

Price. The price range for a stick roller is anywhere from $15-$50. The more features it has, the pricier it gets.
Here’s a video of some of my current favorites:

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Seek gains
Handles- Thick, rubber handle with gripper dots. Very comfy and slightly wider than standard sticks.
Length- 18″. Long enough for leg use and small enough to easily travel with.
Comes in a regular density that is firm, but has a little play between the segments.
Features- none. This is a standard stick that is sturdy and will last forever.
Price $20

The Original Stick
Handles – Standard rubber grip. However, the “big model” does have a thicker grip similar to that of the seek gains model.
Length- The Stick company has the most options in terms of length, ranging from a compact travel model at 14 inches to one that is 30 inches.
Firmness- The Stick company has it’s standard firmness models, as well as, flexible models.
Features- none. These are your standard, segmented sticks.
The middle of the line 19 inch model is $35. The largest model is $50+.

Tiger Tail
Handles- Standard, foam handle that is very small for the travel model.
Length – This is available in three lengths: 14, 18, and 22 inches.
Firmness – All tiger tails come in one firmness. Unlike the other sticks, this model utilizes a single foam piece in the middle giving you a more uniform pressure than the segmented types.
Features – none. Again, this is a standard stick without any trigger point tools or shapes.
$25 -30 dollars depending on which length you go with.

Trigger Point Grid STK
Handles – nice and wide for anyone with hand/wrist restrictions.
Length – 21″
Available in regular and extra firm density. This stick had the thickest roller section making it possible to use this as a mini foam roller all by itself.
Features grid technology with multiple shapes/patterns.
$35-40 depending on which firmness you go with.

If you’re looking for a starter stick that will be primarily used on the legs, then the Seek Gains model is a great choice. It has a good firmness and features the standard segmented design we see in stick rollers. It’s limitations are that there is only one length available which rules it out if you want to use it on the upper body. If that’s the case, then you will want to spend the couple extra dollars on one of the longer Stick models. If you’re looking for a stick roller that can do more in terms of self massage techniques, then the extra thickness and grid patterns of the Trigger Point will make this a nice addition to your self massage tools.