- If only we had the time -- and money -- to get a massage every day, or even once a week. For about 99 percent of the population, this is merely a pipe dream.
Yet for fitness devotees and athletes, the muscle release and healing benefits of massage are key for preventing injuries, reducing soreness and ultimately improving performance.
Cassidy Phillips was a triathlete and endurance athlete suffering from fibromyalgia -- a painful disorder of the joints, muscles and tendons -- when he set out to create a home-use remedy that mimicked the relief he felt following massages. He came up with The Grid, the first product in what would become a larger line of products known as Trigger Point Therapy.
I liken The Grid to a foam roller, times 100 degrees of awesome. Designed with grooves and points meant to mimic the fingertips, fingers and palm pressure of a massage, The Grid provides a massage that is great for hamstrings - and also for some strength moves. Trigger Point's other tools (Massage Baller, Quadballer, Ballerblock and Footballer) more deeply target "trigger points" including the soleus, quadriceps, psoas, piriformis and pecs that are key for performance - and tend to get filled with knots and tightness that a simple stretch will not fix.
The Trigger Point products promote myofascial release - exactly what you seek when you get a deep tissue or sports massage. I have used these products and completely vouch for how great they are. And the group fitness class I took at an SCW Fitness Conference in Atlanta a couple of years ago with Cassidy was a great strength conditioning and massage combo.
The Trigger Point team recently took a few minutes out of their busy days at the Austin, TX headquarters to talk about the 11-year-old company that has gone from targeting mostly Ironman and other endurance athletes to the broader fitness and rehab community.
Here's my chat with Kim McCallum, Class and Master Trainer Coordinator for Trigger Point:
A: We have two lines of products. The Grid is its own line, and now we have the Grid 2.0 which is longer in size. Then we have the trigger point tools – the Ballerblock, the Footballer and the others. Those are different than what people are used to seeing for myofascial release. We use them to massage muscles, but it is designed to be a much deeper massage. They’re designed to mimic the human hand.
On the grid, the pointy parts are the fingertips, the tubular part mimics the fingers and the flat part is like the palm. With the other tools, they have a hard core but a softer outside, so it changes shape and mimics a more natural massage.
The grid is meant to be a superficial kind of massage, and the others would mimic a deeper tissue massage. It isn’t going to replace massage, but it is a maintenance thing – kind of like you brush your teeth every day, but you get your teeth cleaned every six months.
The grid is very diverse – you can roll just about any part of the body, and you can use it as part of our strength program, SMRT-CORE, too.We do a lot of core strength movements, and we’ve expanded it to a full-body program as well. It works great with personal trainers, or group fitness.
The footballer is designed with the lower leg in mind, that soleus muscle in the back of the leg between the calf and ankle. The quad baller is for knee to hip. If people are really brave and kind of like the "good pain" they can use it on the IT band, too. We see people use the footballer for the bottom of their foot, too. The massage ball is a more all-over tool. They’re all designed to be used on your own and with your own body weight.
Cassidy got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and it is very painful and difficult to treat. Cassidy just kind of by trial and error was trying to find the best ways to treat his pain. He always felts best after he got massages, but who can afford or have time to get massages even once a week? He set out to basically create something he could do on his own, at home, on a regular basis. And he was an inline skater back in the day, so the products all kind of look like little inline skates because the original prototype really had wheels.
Q: What are the physical benefits of these various Trigger Point products?
A: These don’t feel so great, especially when you first start because there is a certain amount of pain in the release. But we spend so much time sitting all day, in the car, and we don’t realize how that impacts our biomechanics. The idea is that we can correct some of the dysfunctions we create exercising, and even just going about our daily lives. For example, we start out our classes releasing the left side because even when driving, we use the right side to control the pedal and just let our left knees lay still and shooting out to the side. We like to think of our products as a compliment to daily stretching.
We have so many tight knots and adhesions that form in these muscles and joints, and we really don’t notice because we’ve been doing it this way for so long. It’s amazing to see people use the Trigger Point products and it changes their gait, the way they move. It breaks down knots and scar tissue. It gets the blood flowing. We often see increases in range of motion.
Q: Do you have a favorite Trigger Point 'toy'?
A: I am still dealing with a quad issue, and I can’t imagine not using these. I love my Grid. I use it right before I go to sleep as a relaxing massage. And then I love the Massage Ball because it really gets in deep. I bring it when we travel for work.
Q: What are some ways the Trigger Point products can be used that might be unexpected?
People like to think of these as recovery tools, but we actually recommend the Trigger Point tools as being used before the work out – "roll out before you work out." For instance, we have a Crossfit gym here at the office, and if we are going to do a lot of lats, we do some manipulation before that. And The Grid can be for warmup, cool-down or actual exercise.
Thanks again to the Trigger Point team for spending a little time with the Badass Army!
Coming up: A sweet bread you don't have to resist...Hint: chocolate, pumpkin and cinnamon spice goodness!