Roll Recovery: A Runner’s Best Friend

In my first post recapping my experiences out at the Trials, I mentioned that one of the highlights for John and I was getting the chance to interact with the creators of a number of exciting new performance running brands. Their products, made for runners, by runners, do an excellent job of bridging the gap between what big apparel and equipment companies think their consumers want and what runners and other athletes actually need.

It was a truly unique experience to hear firsthand about the journey each product went through – from the earliest stages of ideation and experimentation all the way to the final stages of market testing and product launch. Learning the motivations behind each product’s development and witnessing the passion their creators displayed made it incredibly easy to understand how each one could benefit our training.

The first product that I wanted to share with everyone is one that I have literally used every day since John and I bought it out in Oregon: the Roll Recovery R8 Massager. But before I go any further, I want to point out that before purchasing the R8, I HATED rolling out and only did it once in a blue moon when it was absolutely necessary.


John and I were out at Nick Symmonds 800m Road Race, the Springfield Straight 8, when we came across the Roll Recovery Tent. I had seen many people posting about this company on Twitter – both about their great products as well as their awesome revenue sharing model for their sponsored athletes – so I knew we had to go over and check it out.

We were greeted by their Sales and Marketing Manager, Matt Hensley (whose fiance, Laura Thweatt went from not making the Trials in 2012 to coming in 6th in the 10k at the Trials this year!). He was knowledgeable and informative without being the least bit pushy. He shared with us the history of the R8 and its development, demonstrated how to use it, and highlighted all the ways it would make rolling out, and therefore staying loose and healthy, more effective and convenient for us.

Being that John needs to roll out every single day in order to keep his body happy and healthy, after one roll down his quad, he was sold. And, despite my skepticism and prior disdain for the act of rolling out, after spending a few minutes soothing my aching muscles from the morning’s workout, I too was sold. We then purchased our own R8 on the spot.

Below are my top 5 reasons why I love using the R8 and why I think it should be staple recovery product for all runners!

1. I can roll out every muscle in my legs without having to be an acrobat.

In order to roll those hard to reach muscles when using a cylindrical foam roller, you must contort your body into a number of awkward and uncomfortable positions. With the R8, I can easily roll any muscle I wish all while standing or laying comfortably on my back.

2. The act of rolling out is not an unintentional arm workout.

Holding your body in the aforementioned awkward positions long enough to perform a success roll-out requires a significant amount of upper body strength. While I am certainly not opposed to distance runners building upper body strength, when I’m trying to focus on recovery, it’s a little frustrating to have to work so hard. Rolling out with the R8 allows me to truly relax while I’m rolling out, enabling me to get its full benefit.

3. The pressure of the two rollers is sufficient to get the blood moving from my muscles, but not so strong as to leave me bruised.

When using a foam roller, the force with which you roll comes mostly from the force of gravity acting on your body weight. While this does help you get in the occasionally necessary super deep roll, sometimes it’s a bit more than you need. The R8 gives you much more flexibility in how strong of a roll you want to get. If you want to really dig into the muscle for a deep massage, you can do it with ease. If you want to lightly flush things out, you can do that too.

4. It’s small and lightweight.

The fact that John and I bought this in Oregon and then proceeded to fly with it back across the country is a testament to its extreme portability. With a giant foam roller this would have been rather difficult, and likely would have involved us being detained by airport security, but with the R8, it was incredibly easy. Measuring just under 12″ by 12″ and weighing only 2.5lbs, it fits perfectly in a backpack for easy transport to and from training sessions.

5. It makes rolling out simple and convenient, which makes me approximately 5 billion times more likely to actually do it.

As I said before, up until now I have absolutely despised rolling out; it was uncomfortable, painful, and overall just a huge hassle. With the R8, not only do I no longer have any excuses not roll out, but I genuinely enjoy doing it.