Background: I have been experiencing intermittent medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) for the past year. At its worst, I resorted to paying a massage therapist $60 weekly for trigger point massage sessions. These helped alleviate the symptoms in the short term, but did not eradicate them. During that time, I was climbing four days a week in the vicinity of 5.10 trad.
At the time, I used a can of chili for self-massage. This proved helpful as ongoing maintenance in preventing tendonitis flareups, but only to a point. (Steep limestone sport climbing the day after Scenic Cruise … bad idea, return to therapist).
What ended up helping most was working antagonist muscles. Reverse wrist curls, eccentric assisted wrist curls, and rotating a hammer helped, as did several stretches . After a couple weeks of these exercises, flareups subsided, and I could climb without worrying about a relapse.
Nevertheless, I wanted to make sure my golfer’s elbow would never come back. To that end, I purchased the Armaid Rubbit, intending to utilize its thirty-day money-back guarantee if it didn’t prove any better than my trusty Hormel’s Spicy Chili.
Method: For thirty days and thirty nights, I used the Armaid daily: five minutes in the morning, five at night, and a ten-minute cool-down session after cragging. In addition, I brought the admittedly lewd-looking device to the crag and used it before and between routes, and as a conversation starter. As for technique, I used the green roller on both sides of my forearm, then on my bicep, then on my tricep. I’d also detach the roller arm and work quads, hams, and hip flexors (excellent for the latter). After each rubdown, I drank half a liter of water.
Initial Observations: The Armaid revealed and massaged away the tension in my forearms and upper arms in a way that the can hadn’t. I was able to work on golfer’s and tennis trouble spots very easily. I was surprised at how good it felt to work the upper arm. However, the Armaid fell short of the can in one regard: it wasn’t as easy to clamp down on a trigger point. Perhaps the sharp edge of the can was superior to the rounded green croissant.
Subsequent Observations: After two weeks, I noticed that I’d lost that lovin’ feeling to some degree — I was still feeling the burn, but disco fever had been downgraded by a few degrees. (Climbing was consistent throughout this testing period.) Perhaps my arms were not as tight to begin with? Regardless, the Armaid still produced good results, both before climbing (lightly) and after (aggressively). I felt like I recovered faster and started the next cragging day without as much of a “pump hangover” from the previous session, even on the third or fourth consecutive day.
Shortcomings: The Armaid was like a gateway drug, and by the end of the month I was wishing that the rotating green turd blossom had a higher density of foam. I felt like I really had to lock it down tight and squeeze with my fingers to get the compression that had come more easily beforehand. My buddy bought a classic Armaid, and the white plastic balls felt more effective than the Rubbit roller.
Also, importantly, I still feel like ye aulde Can provides a better stationary trigger point. (Also, the can isn’t going to get you pulled over while operating a motor vehicle.) However, the rolling abilities of the Armaid are far above and beyond the can.
Conclusion: The Armaid is not a magic bullet or overtraining insurance, but I’m glad to have it in the arsenal. It is worth the cost and expenditure of time to aid recovery and prevent injuries.