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Roll Recovery R8 Review

Deep Tissue Massage Without The Hassle

I have a love/hate relationship with foam rolling. While I am aware of all the benefits, I will be honest and say I have difficulty taking the time to do it regularly. I love the feeling of relief it gives me and how it speeds up recovery, but I don’t like the pain associated with it sometimes. Rolling around on the floor is not always appealing either, at least not when I’m foam rolling, anyway.

I own 3 rollers; a roll around on the floor squishy kind (not the technical term), one like a textured stick, and the Roll Recovery R8. Even though each of them has its own advantages, the Roll Recovery R8 is the one I keep coming back to.

Born out of a garage in Boulder, CO, the R8 is what I consider the “Cadillac” of foam rollers. It is the brainchild of Adriana & Jeremy Nelson, a husband and wife team who founded Roll Recovery in 2012. Adriana, a 2:18 marathoner and 3-time Olympic Trials qualifier, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and placed 2nd in the 2007 Chicago Marathon. Her husband Jeremy, also an avid athlete, studied Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State and Product Design at Stanford.

According to their site, the Roll Recovery R8 “…was made out of necessity. Tired of rolling around the floor and lugging around a giant foam roller, our goal was to design a tool with all the force built into it, easy to use and mobile enough to use anywhere.” And after using it for a while, I can say they’ve met their goal.

Roll Recovery R8
From rollrecovery.com Press Kit

The R8 provides a deep tissue massage without having to leave your house or shell out an average of $60 per hour for a massage therapist. The initial cost ($129) of the device is higher than most other rollers but I’ve found it to be worth the investment, especially if you are someone who gets massages regularly.

They make the R8 from Zytel thermoplastic with stainless steel components and high capacity springs which are corrosion resistant. It self-adjusts according to your body but also allows you to lighten the tension by using the soft-touch handles. The design also lets you move it around on your body without feeling like a workout.

It is light, weighing only 3 pounds (1.4 kg), but it feels solid and seems like it could handle quite a bit of use without losing functionality. The Roll Recovery R8 is compact enough to carry in a backpack or to travel with (12.5″ x 9.5″ x 2.5″ / 31.25 cm x 24.13 cm x 6.35cm) and is an FDA registered medical device. It also won the Men’s Journal Gear of the Year award in December 2012.

The R8 comes in two colors (Carbon Black or Alpine White) and has several choices for the inserts/rollers which provide the massage. You can change the standard inserts with a SuperDeep or SuperPlush insert according to how much pressure you are comfortable with. I have not tried the optional inserts as the standard ones provide the right amount of pressure I need but can see the benefit of switching them occasionally.

The experience itself is more like a professional massage than the feel of using a standard foam roller. That is because of the inserts and spring-loaded design which allow it to get deep into your muscles similar to a deep tissue massage. You can use it on various muscle groups including the IT band (my nemesis), quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and other major areas in your legs and arms.

Roll Recovery R8
From rollrecovery.com Press Kit

I use it mostly on my IT band, quads, hamstrings, and glutes as these are the areas which give me the most problems. Since beginning to use the R8 routinely, I have noticed a difference in how my legs feel and an overall lack of soreness compared to when I don’t put it to use. What I also like about the Roll Recovery R8 is I can use it standing, lying on the floor while I’m watching television or sitting on the couch. I don’t have to roll around on the floor and change positions which is a plus in my book. I have not used it on my arms so I can’t speak to its effectiveness in that area.

The only complaint I have is it can be difficult to massage certain areas given the design and amount of pressure it provides. It is harder to use on my calves given it puts a lot of pressure on the shin bone. I also find it not as easy to use on my glutes just due to how it sits in that area. It is possible to massage these muscles, but it takes a little more effort, and I find I can target those areas better sometimes with a traditional foam roller. The R8 also takes some getting used to especially if you aren’t accustomed to deep tissue massages. It may hurt at first but you can adjust the pressure by using your own strength and your body will adapt over time.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the R8 and highly recommend it to anyone who uses a foam roller or gets massages regularly. While I’m not sure it can replace a session with a massage therapist, the Roll Recovery R8 is an excellent choice in between sessions and when time and money are an issue. And if you use it in place of a massage, it pays for itself after two uses. The initial cost may seem expensive, however, it is built to last and I can’t see needing to replace it or it breaking down anytime soon. The company also offers a 30-day return policy if you aren’t satisfied, and a 1-year warranty on all their products. I would definitely purchase it again.

Roll Recovery also offers more products including the R3 which is an orthopedic foot roller, a stretch mat, apparel and accessories, and a Roll Box which combines the R8, R3, the stretch mat, a t-shirt, and endurance socks.

If you are looking for a quality massage product that will last a long time and is backed by a company who “…believes in hard work, doing business with integrity, and putting people above all else,” then look no further than the Roll Recovery R8.


Disclosure: The links to the products on Amazon are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I was not compensated in any way for this review by Roll Recovery and I purchased the R8 from their website at full price.

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