Before I extoll the virtues of the mighty Armaid, I will be straight with you. I have a vested interest in their importation into Europe.
I bought my Armaid mail order from the US whilst experimenting with every conceivable idea to try and heal my own elbow problems. Plagued with issues on and off for 30 years, it was an absolute godsend. It was the first tool that actually made a real difference to me. With this in mind, we decided it was just too important not to bring it into Europe, and we now distribute it to help others with their own often debilitating elbow and lower arm issues.
I never sing the praises of any kit that I don’t directly use myself, or that I feel is not also of great benefit to others. My recommendations come from the heart and not the wallet, but you can each read into that what you will...
So what is this strange oversize nut-cracker contraption that looks like a medieval torture device?
It’s a self massage tool designed by American physiotherapist Terry Cross.
It's width adjustable to suit your forearm size and also easy to swap the type and severity of the rollers which changes the massage experience.
I only ever use the single orange roller designed for heavier muscle as I find this much better for pinpointing the exact spots that I wish to work on. I also have a high tolerance to discomfort that others may not.
Recently upgraded, the pin that locks the rollers in place is now much more secure than on the original units. I lost two of the original pins but this one is nice and tight and has proved to be secure even whilst travelling regularly.
There is a leg strap for your thigh to keep it upright and put you in a comfortable sitting position to use it. Being of short stature I have never used this and just place the base on the chair between my legs.
The base and upright articulate via a ball and socket. This makes an easy job of getting the correct angles for working on any part of the lower arms.
The shape's ok to travel with it in a rucksack or cargo bag. I find that it is better going in a rucksack base down, and then pack around it. I usually wrap a towel or a pair of jeans around the body. You can also dismantle the floating arm if you wish to narrow the profile further. I often taken it in my hand luggage on flights, and if I'm going anywhere for more than a couple days, it goes along too. All the parts are made of strong plastic and are tough and light.
Now down to the nitty gritty. Adjust the width of the device by turning the floating arm by 90 degrees and sliding it into one of the five positions.
Next pop your lower arm into the jaws and hold the two arms together with your free hand. Find the spot you wish to work on by moving your arm through the roller(s) and adjust the pressure by squeezing or relaxing your grip on the jaws.
Start with long gentle sweeping strokes along the whole length of the muscles. You will soon be able to discern tissue that is under tension, knots, and even little lumps of scar tissue if present. Use a light pressure, especially if you are new to this treatment and guide the roller repeatedly to explore your arms. There's a big mechanical advantage so be careful not to squeeze the top too tight.
It doesn’t happen to everybody, but some people experience a flushing phenomena on their first Armaid use. There is a reaction that causes areas of the arms to look like they are heavily bruised and can be alarming. However they are not actually bruised and if it does happen to you as it did to me, it goes away after the first few days and happens only the once. It provides a pretty interesting conversation starter though.
Muscular tension tends to respond well to the sweeping strokes of general massage. You will often discover a singular point that is more sensitive than other areas and it might sometimes be hard and painful. This is known as a trigger point. Put gentle but constant pressure on this point for a sustained period and it will often release tension in the whole area that it effects. As it relaxes, slowly increase the pressure to suit. Finish again with long sweeping massage strokes.
I find it’s best to do a little and often.
For all chronic issues use the Armaid as part of a multi treatment approach.
If you have golfers or tennis elbow then go easy on the damaged areas around the elbow to start with, they will probably be quite painful. In conjunction, make sure you research the best therapeutic exercises for your condition and do them regularly. Dry needling (acupuncture) is often a great help too.
Now be aware that there’s nothing that the Armaid can do that you cannot do with a selection of other tools if you are very determined. Many people would rather stick with their comforting collection of thumbs, squash balls, golf balls, tennis balls, lacrosse ball, baked bean cans etc, than spend the equivalent of two massages on an Armaid.
Each to their own.
However I try to simplify my life as much as I can. I always find that by making any process as straight forward as possible, the more likely I am to do it, and to keep on doing it.
Combine the therapeutic with some inspiration. Sit on the sofa for 5 minutes per arm whilst watching Chris Sharma send another amazing Oliana project. Just a few minutes a day performed regularly will have tight and tough tissue becoming noticeably softer.
These are your only set of arms. Love them and look after them!
In the US: www.armaid.com
In Europe: www.theclimbingacademy.com