If you are active, then you know how important it is to have healthy fascia and muscle tissue. There are several kinds of tools you can use to keep these tissues healthy and resilient. We picked a few of our favorite handheld self-myofascial release tools that work to help you stay active and recover for your next adventure. Check out the video and then read on below for more info and links.
Trigger Point GRID STK Hand Held Foam Roller and STK X Hand Held Foam Roller
Trigger Point has been making a wide variety of good self-myofascial release tools. I’ve used the GRID Foam Rollers for years and the TPand MBX Massage Ball (links) are always in my backpack. Trigger Point even offers professional education course to show you how to use their products and learn how to perform SMR (Self Myofascial Release). Trigger Point is well established and deliver a lot of education on the subject.
The STKand STK X are semi-hard foam rollers with a “GRID” surface and “AccuGRIP” handles to hold onto. The GRID surface is designed to mimic a massage therapist’s hands and there are two different “Distrodensity Zones” on the roller. Meaning, there are two different patterns on the roller. The roller is easy to clean and very well made. The STK X is made of a firmer foam and designed for more advanced users. Trigger Point has very helpful “how to” videos and gives good instruction on best practices with their products.
Does the Trigger Point STK Roller work?
Personally, I think the STK Roller is overbuilt and does not feel as good as other hand rollers. It could be user error on my part or just a preference for using a smoother surface to roll with. I did find that using the MCT (Myofascial Compression Technique) was helpful on trigger points. Though you can do the MCT with all these products. So, as much as I wanted to like it (as I like their other products) the STK and STK X were not my top pick. The firm foam and texture did not mix with my body.
The Stick Body, Stick Travel Stick, and Little Stick Roller
The Stick has been around for over 30 years and offers a range of “Sticks” from small (Travel Stick– 14”) to big (Big Stick– 30”) and from flexible (Flex Stick) to firm (Stiff Stick). The Stick takes a different approach to handheld rolling tools. Each Stick has several “rollers” that slide and rotate over a semi-flexible “core” then attach to plastic handles to hold onto. Their idea is the user can bend the Stick and apply as much, or as little, pressure as they need. It is very nice that they have a wide variety of sizes and flexes to suit the needs of the user.
Does The Stick work better than the Trigger Point STK?
The Trigger Point STK and The Stick are two different animals in the same zoo. Both can work for you but personally, I like the Stick better. I kept a Travel Stick in my backpack and used Body Stick as my daily driver for years. We use the Stick at our gym and PT clinic and the clients seem to like them. If you want a firm foam hand roller with a massive grid pattern and handles that would be just as well suited on a mountain bike, then Trigger Point STK is for you. If you are very muscular than the STK X would be even better. If you prefer to have a uniform rolling surface and more pliable tool, then The Stick is for you. Plus, there are 12 different versions available, so you are bound to find one that suits your needs.
Tiger Tail Classic and Tiger Tail Roadster
Tiger Tail is a hand foam roller that is right in the middle of the Trigger Point and The Stick. It is firm like the Trigger Point, yet smooth like The Stick. There are three models to choose from Classic, Roadster, and Long One. Roadster is 11” long and fits into a backpack with ease. The Classic is 18” long and The Long One is 22”. Each Tiger Tail is built with a firm cushioned foam roller that spins over a solid bar and has rubber handles. Bonus – Tiger Tail is made in USA and Woman Owned.
Does the Tiger Tail perform better than The Stick or Trigger Point STK?
Yes, I think it is the perfect combination of many things:
The foam is firm and easy to clean.
There is no texture on the foam, so the feel is consistent. Unlike the STK with the aggressive patterns.
No rollers to pinch skin or make noise. The Stick makes noise when you travel with it and every once in a while you can pinch your skin (or body hair).
The rubber handles feel good. The Stick’s handles are hard plastic and the STK handles feel like they should be on a mountain bike.
The travel size is perfect.
Any of these products will help you recover faster than nothing at all. They all work on very similar SMR principals and each company does a good job of showing the user how to use the product. Whether you use one of these products, a foam roller, lacrosse ball or softball, make sure to use best practices and stay consistent with your recovery program.