Roll Recovery R8 on blue circle in gym

This Recovery Tool Looks Like a Torture Device But Feels Like an Expensive Massage

I might not use a foam roller ever again.

I’m a chronic under-stretcher (and yet I still wonder why I have the flexibility of a brick). As a college athlete, I was always told a foam roller was my best friend, but I could never actually hit the muscles I wanted to.

When I first laid eyes on the Roll Recovery R8, it scared the hell out of me. Like something the writers of Saw conjured up in a late-night brainstorm, it looks like something between a bear trap and handcuffs. But once I kicked Jigsaw out of my head and put the R8 around my leg, something changed. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Roll Recovery?

Roll Recovery was founded in 2011 out of a garage (aren’t they all?). While they dove into the deep end of a highly saturated recovery market, their products were anything but your standard foam roller.

The company’s premier deep tissue massage roller—the R8—is meant to bring mobile recovery to the next level. Considering I used the R8 in the parking lot of my dentist’s office, I’d say it’s pretty freakin’ mobile.

Roll Recovery R8 displayed on counter
Roll Recovery includes the R8 massage roller, a nylon travel bag, and a quick tune-up tool.

What’s Good About the Roll Recovery R8?

Targets hard-to-reach muscles

Traditional foam rollers are fine if you’re targeting larger, or more accessible muscle groups (think: quads, hamstrings, and calves). One pain point for me is getting on the ground and playing a game of Twister with yourself when you’re sore after a workout to get into those harder-to-reach areas. Roll Recovery R8 eliminates that headache.

From the comfort of a folding chair—or as comfortable as I could get on a folding chair—I rolled out my quads, hamstrings, and calves in half the time it’d take me using a foam roller. It was easy to spend time around my knee and work out those knots to then jump down to my lower calf muscles and alleviate ankle pain in seconds.

The best part: I was able to get into my inner and outer thigh, as well as my hips, and actually spend time loosening up those hard-to-hit muscles.

Easy to adjust force

R8 operates with high-capacity springs that allow you to pull the handle apart and place the device around your intended muscle. On top of R8 is a dial that adjusts the force needed to pull the handles apart.

Two reasons for this: first, depending on the size of your body part (be it your leg or arm), you can adjust this force properly so it fits snug in place. Second, this lets you control the comfort level and the tighter you turn the dial, the deeper the massage will be.

It’s incredibly easy to turn this dial and get to work. There is no snapping, unscrewing, or attaching any other parts which adds to the versatility of this device.

Interchangeable inserts

This feature was a nice surprise. Roll Recovery R8 has two sets of rollers that give you a deep massage (think: four longboard wheels stuck together). These are interchangeable and Roll Recovery offers two options depending on what you’re looking for.

The SuperDeep inserts are harder and ideal for deeper massages to break up muscle knots. Their SuperPlush inserts offer a more gentle feel if you want a more relaxing massage.

R8 comes with a small turn key—essentially a baby Allen wrench—for easy changing of whatever inserts you want.

Extremely mobile device

There’s not much more to say here than this: the R8 can go anywhere. I’ve used this at my desk, in the car, on the couch watching football, and on a yoga mat post-workout. Not very big—I’d say as wide and tall as a standard loaf of bread—Roll Recovery includes a nylon and mesh travel bag to take with you wherever, whenever.

man using Roll Recovery R8 on leg
Roll Recovery R8 gives you a fantastic massage from the comfort of your couch.

What’s Not Good About the Roll Recovery R8?


At $139.00, the Roll Recovery R8 won’t break the bank, but it certainly isn’t chump change.

You can find foam rollers for $10 or $20 bucks at your local Walmart, but keep in mind some foam rollers can get up to around $70. Given the versatility of this recovery device, you do get a whole lot more than a stiff piece of foam, but the significant price hike is frustrating nonetheless.

Hard to hit upper body muscles solo

I can’t express enough how easy it is to hit those lower body muscles with R8. What was challenging was hitting upper body muscles. I tried to get the upper part of my forearm—following an instruction guide Roll Recovery includes—and didn’t find this as comfortable as my waist down counterparts.

Balancing R8 on my thigh and holding the other handle while trying to roll out my arm wasn’t exactly ideal. I’ll stick to the lower half benefits for now.

The Bottom Line

Roll Recovery R8 changed the way I recover. Once you get past the torturous make-up of R8, you may never go back to a stiff foam roller again. Easy to hit hard-to-reach spots, interchangeable inserts for comfort, and incredible portability makes this the recovery device of the future.