Roll Away Tension with the Travel Roller

FitterFirst Travel Roller. Photo by R-M Arca.

The gym and massage therapist are not available 24/7, 365 days a year. That's when owning a self-myofascial release tool to relieve tension and stress comes in handy.

In "Stress Levels Up in Canada, Mental Health Association Warns", the CBC reported that stress had increased 30% from the previous year. In the article, it is stated that a study conducted by Desjardins Financial Security found that one-third of the people surveyed experienced anxiety, insomnia, tension headaches and muscle pain due to stress.

The increase of self-maintenance tools available have increased since the study was completed. This implies that consumers are seeking affordable ways to relieve stress anytime, any place. These methods range from home exercise DVDs and home fitness equipment to personal massagers and self-maintenance tools. The Travel Roller falls under the "self-maintenance tool" category.

A Look at the Travel Roller

The Travel Roller is a massage therapy roller and a self-myofascial release (SMR) tool. It is made of a stiff tube covered by a soft-closed cell foam surface. These materials make the Travel Roller more durable than standard foam rollers.

The Travel Roller is highly portable, fitting easily into a bag, backpack or suitcase. Two sizes of the Travel Roller are available. The small roller is 4" X 13" while the large roller is 5" X 15". There is also the Fitter First TravelRoller Acupressure Kit, which contains three acupressure balls (soft, medium and hard), two exercise posters and the "This is How We Roll" instructional DVD. The instructional DVD is also available separately.

The Travel Roller is available in red, blue, black, pink and lilac. It eco-friendly, with no off-gassing from the materials.

How the Travel Roller Works

To relieve muscle tension, users roll on the floor with the Travel Roller, applying gentle pressure on an area that is stiff. Users can adjust the pressure applied to an area as well as the angle of the roller. They can also alternate between rolling and pausing to apply static pressure on a muscle knot.

When used properly, the Travel Roller applies similar pressure as a masseuse using his or her forearm of foot. It can be used on the upper back, lower back, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, IT band , pelvis, shoulder, armpit, neck and feet.

The Travel Roller Story

The Travel Roller was developed by Adam Wood of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A multi-sport athlete, he was on the Canadian bobsledding team for over four years. Adam earned his Bachelor degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and attended the National Coaching Institute Calgary.

He is now a strength and lifestyle coach. When Adam began coaching office workers, he realized the severity of his clients' muscle tension and muscle pain. This inspired him to create the Travel Roller.

How Well the Travel Roller Works

Users have written to Adam Wood commenting that they noticed immediate results after using the Travel Roller. With regular use, twice a day (or more), muscle tension and pain are eased. With just one roll, the user can feel and hear the skeletal system attempt to realign itself.

When used on a particularly tense spot, great care should be exercised. It is best to start with gentle pressure and then gradually place more weight onto the roller.

One huge design improvement since the Travel Roller was first released is that the cell foam is secured more thoroughly. This minimizes, if not eliminates the possibility of the cell foam becoming unglued from the tube. However, the foam is not indestructible. A curious pet can easily leave its mark on the foam with one bite.

The Travel Roller withstands the pressure used by people large and small. It works especially well on relieving back pain. The Travel Roller also works well on easing tension in the legs and shoulders. As for easing neck pain and neck tension, that takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it.

I have owned the Original Travel Roller and have version 3.8. The current model out on the market is 4.3. I can tell you that the design improves with each new release. Any complaints that I have about my Travel Roller has been addressed in subsequent models:

  • Sturdier construction: The glue on the foam (Version 1.0 ) weakened with age, so the foam kept coming off. I'm glad to see that version 3.8 up to 4.3 do not have this issue.
  • The foam doesn't lose shape.
  • Design improvements on the storage container: You can store your acupressure balls, exercise band, your wallet, water bottle or your [insert blank] securely. My 3.8 is holding up well and can still hold the band and the balls (but anything else would fall out). Version 4.3 has a drawstring to keep the contents secure.

The Travel Roller works best when the user is barefoot or wearing proper footwear for exercising. Using the Travel Roller in stockinged feet is not advisable.

Cleaning the Travel Roller is relatively simple. Wash in warm warm soapy water. I usually let it air dry.

Alternative Self-Maintenance Tools

The Travel Roller is just one of a growing number of self-maintenance tools out on the self-massage market. There are also foam rollers, massage sticks, spiky massage balls and acupressure balls.

The Travel Roller is available at  Fitter First as well as Amazon. Locally, you can check your local exercise store or your physiotherapist's office. The Travel Roller Acupressure Kit retails between $73 - $79 USD. The Travel Roller sells for $44 - $49 USD, while the Travel Roller Athlete Kit (roller, one acupressure ball and a stretching band) retails for $59 USD.

As far as self-myofascial release tools go, the Travel Roller's portability and durable construction are huge benefits. The fact that it is fairly easy to use is also a bonus. Another boon is that regular use of the Travel Roller can cut down on visits to the massage therapist or chiropractor. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that the Travel Roller can be used several times throughout the day, every day.

Originally published on Suite101.com on March 30, 2010. Updated March 23, 2013. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.