First-look review: Roll Recovery R8

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The Roll Recovery R8 is a personal deep-tissue massage device which its Australian distributor Stoqe describes as “the greatest recovery tool on Earth”. The patent-pending design features two opposing rows of rollerblade wheels on spring-loaded arms which compress and apply pressure to muscles on either side of the leg.

The Roll Recovery was designed in Colorado, assembled in China, and now has a dedicated Australian website for local consumers. Australian customers who buy the product but don’t like it are able to send it back within a week for a full refund (minus shipping costs).

Our take

The Australian Roll Recovery site suggests that the R8 will “flush out waste products” from the muscles and thereby help to “increase blood circulation”. While testing these claims is beyond the scope of the review, the R8 certainly gets in deep, providing a painful but satisfying massage.

Once on your leg (best achieved by twisting the unit while pushing down) the R8 is easy to roll up and down, massaging your quads, IT bands and calves. Having rollers on either side makes it a tricky to use on your calves proper though — having the R8 pushing on your shinbone is a painful experience and a mistake you’ll only make once.

The opposing rollers design has another drawback — quite often you’ll want to target just one side of your leg rather than both. It can be a frustrating and even painful having pressure applied to a spot you don’t want, just so you can get to a spot you do want to. You can pull on one side of the R8 to reduce the impact where you don’t want it, but the tension on the springs makes this tiring if kept up for any length of time.

The promotional material for the Roll Recovery suggests the unit can be used to massage your glutes but, in our experience, this is only going to be possible for a small percentage of users. The unit only opens so far and users with larger thighs and/or buttocks will struggle to get this high enough on their legs to work their glutes. For the same reason many users will find it difficult to roll out their hip flexors — another important area for cyclists.

While the Roll Recovery certainly does a great job of getting into the muscles it targets, our feeling is that just everything it can do can also be achieved with a foam roller. Add a golf ball to your home massage toolkit and you’ve arguably got a setup that’s more versatile than the R8. That said, it’s certainly easier and more comfortable to sit on your couch and roll out your legs with the Roll Recovery than it is to get on the floor and use a foam roller or golf ball.

Ultimately, though, it’s the price that’s going to determine whether consumers are interested in the Roll Recovery R8. At AU$249 (including postage) it’s nearly 10 times the price of a foam roller, making it difficult to recommend here in Australia. Customers elsewhere might find the price more palatable — the Roll Recovery retails in the US for US$119, for example.

CyclingTips’ Jonathan Reece also contributed to this review.

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