Thermoplastic body; stainless steel hardware; TPU rollers are interchangeable (sold separately)
Light, portable, easy to use
Hard to position it for use on your calves
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Raise your hand if you have chronically tight hips, hamstrings, IT bands, and calves. My guess is a lot of hands just went in the air (even if only figuratively). The Roll Recovery R8 is a massage tool tailored to folks like us who should probably stretch more than they do and suffer for it. More than any of the other fancy recovery doodads in my arsenal, the R8 has become the most frequently used because it’s quick, easy, and effective.
The thermoplastic frame features several components, all in the name of allowing the R8 rollers to move inward and outward. This serves to get the tool onto your leg, and once it’s there, to apply sufficient pressure to iron out deep tissues. Springs are integrated into the frame in order to apply consistent pressure on both sides.
The star of the R8 show is of course the rollers themselves, which can be swapped out for other rollers that will go deeper or less deep, depending on your needs. The stock rollers were plenty for me; they dug in deep enough to get into the deep tissue without causing discomfort — at least, no more discomfort than was necessary to actually get the job done.
The R8’s handles are adjacent to each roller and Roll Recovery dubs them soft-touch handles. The soft-touch part is essentially a rubbery insert. All of the hardware (those shiny bolts you see in the photos) is stainless steel, so they should be rugged enough for the long haul.
All told, the R8 weighs right around three pounds, comes with a carrying bag, and fits nicely in your carry-on luggage (it’s TSA-approved) so you can take this with you to your race or vacation.
Using the R8
I didn’t really love the R8 the first time I used it, but I came to rely on it daily as I learned the best positions and movements for it. My early struggles with the tool centered on the positioning for use on my calves; I found it difficult to get the roller where I needed it to be, without the other roller pressing uncomfortably on my shin.
While that’s still something of a problem, I have found a sweet spot to get most of my calf massaged. I still don’t use the R8 front to back, meaning with the front roller directly on my shin and the rear roller directly on the meat of my calf (right where I’d prefer it).
But the R8 works wonders on my thighs. I have chronically tight hips, and occasional sciatic pain, so the R8 is a dream come true for ironing out IT bands, hamstrings, groin muscles, and other little stuff inside my legs that I don’t know the name of, but boy does it feel great when I land on it to iron it out.
Perhaps most importantly, the R8 requires no charging, no app integration, and it makes no noise. You can sit and watch your favorite TV show, or reruns of Paris-Roubaix, and iron away without bothering anyone. And I would argue it’s vastly more effective than percussive massagers (though to be fair, percussive massagers are useful on more areas of your body, so this isn’t exactly a fair comparison).
The R8, according to Roll Recovery’s website, breaks up muscle adhesions for myofascial release, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation. I don’t know if that’s true or not; but I can tell you I feel a whole heckuva lot better after using the R8 after rides, and rest days.
Given how frequently I use the R8, and how well it seems to work for making my legs feel better, it seems well worth the $129 price tag. Just know that it’s a bit limited: Yes, it works wonders on your thighs, and it works well enough on your calves, but if you’re looking for a more multi-purpose tool that can accommodate your legs and other parts of your body, you’re better off with a percussive massager. But if your legs are your primary focus area, the R8 does almost everything I want it to do silently, easily, and anywhere.