Versatile Massage Roller Has Numerous Uses
Upon initial inspection, the Rolflex looks like a fairly complicated contraption with a few too many moving parts. But after reading the included user’s manual and watching the company’s YouTube videos, this design really makes a lot of sense.
In fact, it made more and more sense the more I used it – so much so that I stopped and re-started this review several times. Each time I started again was because I discovered yet another exercise and a whole new way of using this very versatile trigger point (TrP) release tool.
What is a Trigger Point?
According to Tptherapy.com, “The inside of the body is covered with soft tissue called fascia. This tissue covers every structure including organs, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. The fascia that covers your muscles is call myofascia. When the myofascia is stressed from overuse or trauma, it can tear and adhere together. These adhesions are called ‘trigger points’ and can prevent the muscles from working well. Trigger points lead to an increase in muscle stiffness and tenderness and a decrease in range-of-motion. In addition, the discomfort from trigger points can radiate from the adhesion. This is called referral pain.” (For the purposes of this review, let’s call a trigger point a “muscle knot.”)
I have included several resources at the end of this review for those interested in more information on trigger point relief and self-massage. For more on traditional foam rollers and massage sticks, see my RBR Review on the GoFit Massage Bar, Roller & Rumbleroller.
For cyclists, TrP’s will usually occur in the legs and, more specifically, in the calves. In order to perform at your best, and minimize the stiffness and pain of trigger points, you should roll out your leg muscles, glutes and lower back both pre- and post ride. Rolling out prior to a ride will warm up the muscles, and rolling out post-ride will work all of the “knots” out.
Which brings us to the Rolflex.
Most of the exercises use the Rolflex in the closed position, with the limb(s) between the green and black foam rollers. Adjusting the 6-position adjustment channel to the correct position, you then place the green roller against the TrP. Next, squeezing the ergonomic handle will apply the perfect amount of pressure against the TrP. Lastly, gradually move/wiggle the affected TrP side-to-side, which will concentrate the pressure directly, or you can remain motionless and concentrate the pressure onto the TrP until it releases. (A “release” is when the TrP basically vanishes!) A release usually takes 30-60 seconds.
Ways I’ve Found to Use the Rolflex
I use my Rolflex in 4 different configurations. For the first 3, I use it in its disassembled form.
- Pre-ride: To warm up leg muscles, glutes and lower back, I use the part with the soft black foam roller. Using a medium pressure, I roll-out the muscles in a fast back and forth motion. When muscles are warmed up prior to a ride, pedaling seems much easier when jumping on the bike.
- Post-ride: I use the hard green roller to concentrate on TrP’s. I start by rolling out my quadriceps, then hamstrings, then glutes, followed by my lower back. I apply a firm pressure, rolling-out the muscles in a slow back-and-forth motion. Lastly, I concentrate on my calves. I apply a very firm pressure using a very slow back-and-forth motion so that when I feel a TrP, I press firmly using the middle of the green roller directing all of the roller’s pressure into the TrP. Usually after about 45 seconds the TrP has released. When doing my calves, I start with my left calf, followed by the right, then back to the left, finishing with the right. This “doubling up” ensures that all of the TrP’s have released.
- Bonus TrP exercise: I have found a great TrP release exercise that isn’t listed anywhere on the manufacturer’s website. For those who perform myofascial release, this is akin to sitting on the ground and placing a hard ball directly onto a TrP (from the underside). I place the Rolflex piece with the black foam roller over the edge of a table or desk, with the convex black rubber handle facing up (see photo below). I use the black convex rubber piece as the “hard ball,” placing the trigger point in my affected muscle directly on it.
- General rolling out: or to work out any TrP in the arms, I use the Rolflex in its original (put together) configuration.
The Last Word
I use the Rolflex every day and am impressed with how well it works. It is a strong, solid and versatile tool with many different ways to use it that will benefit you as a cyclist. I use it mainly as a TrP release tool, but also as a pre-ride warm up tool and for general rolling out.
I highly recommend it. If you’re interested in seeing the product in action, I suggest you watch these instructional videos as a starting point.
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist and Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.
Additional Resources on Trigger Point and Self-Massage
Myofascial Release Therapy
Unlock the Knots with Trigger Point Massage
Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy – What is it?
Basic Self-Massage Tips for Myofascial Trigger Points
Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Bought one of these based on this review. I’ve had a knot in my right quad for about 15 years, and it makes the first 10 miles of a ride a bit painful.
I rolled that area out prior to the first day of Hilly Hundred (two days of about 50 miles each). I was pain free from the start! The last few miles I was feeling “things develop” mid-quad. I rolled those out post-ride. The next day, it was as if I’d not ridden the previous day (and I did – passing many other riders on every climb).
Great product – thanks for reviewing!