Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Tight, sore muscles are, well, a pain. You can stretch, use massage balls, visit a therapist, and sometimes those muscle aches, cramps, spasms and general stiffness can ground you. If you are competitive or even just terribly enthusiastic about your physical pursuits, the aches can leave you feeling especially unbalanced and perhaps just a bit grumpy or gimpy.
Our team has tested just about every remedy under the sun, each with its own pluses and minuses, some we like a lot, some just a little. In fact, SNEWS HQ is littered with balls, ropes and other massage toys in about every room for those spontaneous moments that strike. But they never seemed to make their way into both our workout/race day bag and our home gym … until we discovered the Tiger Tail Rolling Muscle Massager.
Imagine a rolling pin, but a bit longer, lighter and thinner. The Tiger Tail we tested is 18-inches long (there is also a 24-inch version we did not test) and made of rigid plastic. On each end of the bar is a soft rubber, bicycle handlebar-type grip. Between the handles is a 9-inch long, high-density foam rolling section, and it is that foam section that gives the Tiger Tail a unique twist compared to a litany of other massage bars, rollers and tools on the market.
Our test team found the 18-inch length ideal as it was easy to pack along in a workout bag, making it perfect to use when warming up and warming down during races. Plus, it fits around your legs and back easily. One of our male testers, a muscular-legged guy who is prone to hip and hamstring pulls and calf cramps, used it to great delight both pre- and post a 5K run, commenting that the rolling massager “helped him to more readily warm up and loosen tight calves, hamstrings, quads and hips.” He reported feeling more relaxed and loose prior to the race start than he has in any race he’s begun in recent years. Also, after he completed the race and used the bar again, he found that when he used the massager in combination with a good warm-down and some quality stretching, his muscles weren’t sore and he didn’t suffer the usual tightness in certain spots. Another tester hesitated to use it on very stiff and achy muscles after an ultra-run, fearing it would hurt too much, but did anyway and was surprised how the cushioned surface allowed her to apply good pressure and release muscles without causing any pain. In fact, it really did help release the areas involved.
Both of our testers found that it was easy to target muscles with a combination of trigger point therapy and deep tissue rolling, which worked well to sooth, loosen and relax tight and sore muscles effectively.
The non-slip grips are very comfortable, making it easy to manage and maintain pressure throughout an entire cycle of rolls. The rolling massage bar glides easily over bare skin and also over clothing – although our male user found baggie clothing did have a tendency to bunch up uncomfortably, and our long-haired female tester found it easier to tie up hair than let it get caught in the rolls around the neck and shoulders.
Though not a replacement or shortcut for a good and proper warm-up and warm-down following competitive activity, races or workouts, the Tiger Tail provides an additional and excellent way to further knead muscles into supple shape and readiness, releasing tight knots and lumps quickly. That applies to highly competitive athletes, recreationally active folks, or even casual exercisers who are susceptible to any aches or spasms.
The Tiger Tail rolling muscle massager now has a permanent place in the workout bag and, we fear, will have our testers fighting over who has dibs.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $25, 18-inch length; $30, 24-inch length
For more information:www.polarfusion.com