Traveling and exercising do the body good, but for every health benefit, our muscles and joints also take a little wear and tear. Repetitive motions like walking or always putting a bag on the same shoulder combined with sedentary hours on trains or buses can cause tension and disfunction in our fascia, or connective tissue, and ultimately lead to imbalances, reduced range of motion in joints, nagging pain, or worse.
Anticipating several hours a day of walking, climbing stairs, hauling 70L backpacks and sitting on planes and trains, Travel Well’s co-founder and I were deciding what to include in our packing list to alleviate such tension and soreness we knew we’d encounter on our three-week trip to Europe. Lucky for us, TriggerPoint reached out to us just before we left to test their new NANO Foot Roller, a travel-friendly therapeutic mini foam roller designed specifically for feet and forearms. We took them up on the offer and brought the NANO with us to give it a go.
Note: TriggerPoint provided us with a free NANO for testing purposes. All opinions listed in this review are our own, honest and not influenced by TriggerPoint.
We received the orange NANO roller, which is the softer of the two photographed above, but both are designed to replicate the pressure of a massage therapist’s fingers. The first thing I noticed was that it’s a little heftier than I expected with polyurethane wheels and a core wrapped in an EVA foam grid. But even with its dense and durable construction, the roller is compact, light and much more travel friendly at 6.5 inches long and weighing just under 1 lb. It packed easily into our bag, didn’t raise any red flags at airport security, and held up through all the jostling of security checkpoints and overhead bins.
My first experience actually using the NANO, however, was not with tension or soreness. The seven-hour flight to London caused my feet to swell, something I had never dealt with before. I’m unsure if using it helped the swelling abate, but rolling every surface of my feet with the foam grid did ease the discomfort in the moment, which I was thankful for.
— Travel Well Magazine (@TravelWellMag) May 7, 2015
Even early on in the honeymoon, the miles of cobblestone and concrete in less-than-supportive shoes were taking their toll on both of us quickly. I used the roller on my feet almost every night and several mornings after waking up with tight calves and sore heels, and I noticed a moderate ease in the tension. By the time we reached Rome 10 days into the trip, I was also using it like a marshmallow stick on my calves, traps, neck and IT band and like a regular foam roller on my lower back and piriformis muscles for some additional relief, which worked well for me as it fit my very small size. [Please note, however, that using the roller outside of its specified purposes may not be recommended.]
All in all the NANO made a great travel companion. While it didn’t completely alleviate the aches and pains of such an active itinerary and I found product information on the website lacking, it definitely made a difference, and we’re thankful we brought it along. I still use it almost every day now that we’re back in the office and our normal fitness routines, and the therapeutic tool has earned a permanent spot on my packing lists for future trips.