Jul 13 2009
I used to be skeptical about physical therapists and massages. Until I injured my neck, that is. After the pain subsided enough for me to actually move, I took myself off to an orthopedic doctor who advised a six-week course of PT. The following week, I hiked down the road to meet Igor, as I had already begun to think of him. Instead of a muscle-bound trog who would twist me into a pretzel or put me on the rack, I found a mild-mannered, capable, intelligent therapist who also happened to be an avid cyclist. We hit it off immediately. He attached electrodes to my neck and deep pulses of energy soothed the pain. Gentle stretching, massage, and traction gradually brought back my full range of motion.
That was two years ago, and luckily I’ve had no reason to go to a physical therapist since then. But this spring as I hit the roads again on my bike after a long winter of indoor ergonomic cycling, I began to develop cramps in my right calf. Not bad enough to seek medical advice, but bothersome just the same. I tried massaging the muscles with my hands, but that didn’t seem to help much. Then Bike Nashbar had a sale on a massage stick. In fact, it’s called The Travel Stick®, which is about 18-inches long and has eight rollers.
The decision to spend about USD28 (less the sale discount) on The Travel Stick didn’t come easily. I had little faith in the manufacturer’s claims of its efficacy. But after reading numerous reviews by folks who’d bought them, I decided to take the chance. After all, I could always return it, because Bike Nashbar guarantees the products it sells.
I’ve had The Travel Stick for a couple months now and have used it several times to relieve tight calf and thigh muscles. My impressions? So far, so good! The rollers are best on bare skin but will work through light fabric. The Travel Stick is flexible enough to have some give when pressed against the body, but it’s firm pressure helps reach deep knots in the muscle. Repeated passes with gradually increased pressure soothes tight muscles and works out those knots. After about 20 passes over affected areas, the muscle feels more relaxed. The Travel Stick is short enough to fit into a duffle, but that also restricts its use. While it is an ideal length for massaging the legs, it’s not as easy to massage your own shoulders or back, though it can be done.
After I use The Travel Stick more often, I’ll give a more complete evaluation of its capabilities and durability. For now, though, I can say that I’m glad I bought The Travel Stick, and so is my calf.