The Stick is a self-massage tool the company claims to be ‘a toothbrush for your muscles’. This clever marketing is a high claim since most of us view a ‘toothbrush’ as an essential everyday (even twice a day) personal item. It was with this claim in mind that I reviewed and evaluated The Stick for its benefits for me as a runner.
I reviewed two versions of The Stick – The Original Stick and The Sprinter Stick. The Original Stick is 24″ (61 cm) long (retail – $46.75) while the Sprinter Stick is shorter at 19″ (48 cm) (retail – $38.45). The Original Stick has significantly more flex to it than the Sprinter Stick. The company’s website states the Sprinter Stick is best for heavy muscles with the Original Stick best for average muscles.
The products arrived two days after I had completed the Lost Soul Ultra 50k. My muscles were still quite sore and sensitive and my busy schedule didn’t have a lot of time for a massage appointment. So this was the perfect opportunity to test out a product claiming many benefits similar to those from massage therapy. I first tried the Original Stick on my sore and tight calf muscles followed by my almost still seizing hamstrings. The Original Stick has good flexibility and wrapped nicely around my calves, giving muscle stiffness relief that was similar to massage therapy treatment. The hard plastic cylinders that roll around the inner shaft allow you to work the muscles as hard or as soft as you wish.
The hamstrings were a bit more difficult as you must be sitting so that your hamstring muscles are relaxed for the Stick to be effective. The hamstring is generally most relaxed when you are lying on your back or stomach; thereby making self-massage with The Stick a bit more tricky. I found sitting on a couch with adequate height worked well or alternatively sitting on the ground with your legs straight out and the Stick underneath your legs. Yet, with both positions the muscle wasn’t as completely relaxed as it would be if a massage therapist was working on you. Once I found a good position the Original Stick worked well to ease some of my hamstring tightness from the race.
The next day I then tried the same thing, but with the Sprinter Stick rather than the Original Stick. The shorter and more rigid Sprinter was not as effective as the Original Stick on these muscle groups. My relatively small frame 5’6″, 130 lbs perhaps doesn’t lend itself to the stiffer Sprinter Stick, because I could only work small portions of the muscle due to the lack of flexibility. I then tried the Sprinter Stick on my quads with more success. This large and easy-to-access muscle group seemed to be more effectively worked with the rigid Sprinter stick, since direct pressure could be applied to a larger muscle region.
So, does the Stick live up to its lofty claim of being a ‘toothbrush for your muscles’? I’d say yes it did and now I use it almost everyday – a true test of a product’s value. It has noticeable benefits when used daily and if you go a few days without your muscles will let you know. Nonetheless it’s not possible to work every muscle with the Stick and I see it being used in conjunction with regular massage treatment for full recovery.
For the majority of runners, especially leaner trail and ultra runners I’d recommend the Original Stick. It is highly effective at providing relief for sore aching muscles and promoting a quicker post-race recovery time. It performs as well, or better, than a foam roller on most muscle groups, including the IT band, and is easier to take with you to a destination race. If you have larger, especially tight, muscles then the Sprinter Stick might be a more effective alternative for you and its smaller size is slightly more convenient for storage and traveling.
There are now a host of post-run home physio products on the market, including various types of rollers, stretching bands, and even at-home ultrasound. From my experience the Stick is one product that will result in genuine improved recovery and which you will feel better after you use. Regardless of how many academic research studies are behind a product (and the Stick has dozens just check the website), the user will decide if they feel better and recover faster after its use. Gladly, I can say that the Stick passed this test and I now use it daily.
Products were supplied by Zealous Vitality – www.thestick.ca