There’s no better way to ease up pain for sore, stiff muscles after a workout than to use a foam roller. These handy tools are a must-have for anybody who works out and can be a valuable part of recovery routines as long as you use them correctly.
Today, we’re reviewing a foam roller with a twist. The Therabody Wave Roller combines foam rolling with vibration massage.
Let’s have a look at this helpful massager so you can decide if it’s the right tool for you.
What Is the Therabody Wave Roller?
The Therabody Wave Roller is a hybrid between a foam roller and a massage gun. It’s shaped like a foam roller but incorporates vibration technology to provide a massage and the usual foam rolling benefits.
The Wave Roller is the first foam roller designed and built by Therabody, a high-profile massage gun company.
Let’s have a look at the Wave Roller in depth.
Size and Weight
The Therabody Wave Roller is the size of a fairly average foam roller, at 12 inches in length by 5.1 inches in diameter.
It weighs a bit more than your usual foam roller—3.3 pounds—because of the motor and battery powering the massage.
It can be carried in a gym bag reasonably easily – or stored in the travel bag that comes with it. However, if you’re planning to go on vacation, the size and weight may make it difficult to travel. So it’s best for use at home or at the gym where you don’t have to carry it far.
Like a regular foam roller, the size and shape of the Wave Roller make it best for use on large muscle groups, like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and the upper back muscles.
Wave Roller Firmness & Texture
The Wave Roller is made of high-density PU foam, and it seems to be less firm than some others on the market. Unfortunately, there is no way to choose a different density of foam, as it only comes in one firmness.
The name “Wave Roller” comes from the wave-like groove pattern carved into the foam. According to Therabody, this pattern is designed to add an extra dimension of pressure when used on a muscle. It also aids in traction control, so you should be able to use it on multiple surfaces safely.
As well as providing pressure and cushioning the muscles against the massage mechanism within the foam roller, the thick foam serves the purpose of dampening noise as you use the foam roller.
However, users have reported that it’s loud enough to be disruptive, so it’s best used in daylight hours and when there’s nothing and nobody around to disrupt.
The Wave Roller has five different intensity settings. You can change them manually using the buttons on the foam roller itself, or download the Therabody app, pair up the foam roller, and change it there to avoid moving the roller once you’re on it.
This allows users of all levels to find a comfortable setting. We recommend starting on the lowest or the second-lowest setting and working your way up as you get used to the intensity.
The company claims that the Wave Roller has a battery life of up to 3 hours, but this is subject to the intensity at which you use the roller.
If you prefer the lower intensities, you should be able to get 3 hours continuously or a few shorter sessions adding up to 3 hours. You may only get about 1 or 2 hours on the highest settings.
Charging takes about 180 minutes. However, you can purchase a multi-device wireless charger separately, and other sources suggest that this changes the Wave Roller in around 110 minutes.
When charging, you’ll see a flashing LED light. Once it’s fully charged, the LED will go solid green.
The Therabody Wave Roller has built-in Bluetooth capabilities that allow you to connect the device straight to the Therabody app.
In the Therabody app, you have access to a variety of recovery workouts that you can choose from to supplement your workout routine and help teach you how to use the Wave Roller effectively.
You can choose recovery exercises for particular muscles, or choose recovery exercises specific to certain activities.
There’s a handy function where you can swipe right to save a workout if you like it or swipe left to remove it if you don’t want it as an option.
Ease of Use
The Wave Roller is quite intuitive to use and user-friendly. Press and hold down the power button on the end of the roller to turn it on.
It automatically starts on the lowest intensity setting. There’s no memory that takes it back to your preferred setting. Press the +/- buttons to cycle up or down in intensity.
You will need to press and hold the same button again to turn the device off.
Once the Wave Roller is on, simply use it like you would use any other foam roller. It may take some time to get used to the vibrations, but it’s very user-friendly and should be easy for anybody who has used a foam roller before.
The Therabody Wave Roller comes with a protective carrying bag and a charger. It also has a 1-year limited warranty.
The Therabody Wave Roller is going for $149 at the time of writing. Expensive compared to a basic (non-massaging) foam roller but a bit of a better value compared to similar rollers.
The Therabody Wave Roller combines vibration massage with a traditional foam roller. So the first question we had when we tested it out was would this make a difference?
In fact, it does. But not in the way we expected. Before we go into too much detail, let’s cover some more basic aspects of the foam roller.
From a size perspective, the foam roller is right in line with a standard foam roller, both in length and diameter. As we mentioned above, it is heavier from the batteries and motor.
The weight isn’t an issue when you are actually using the foam roller. You can roll back and forth without a problem. But it is pretty heavy to travel with, at least if you are taking a plane anywhere. It would be ok for car trips.
The roller is soft compared to a standard foam roller in terms of firmness. It’s not bad for covering large areas, but it makes it hard to really dig into those deep spots where you want some firm pressure. But it gets the job done for muscles like your quads, glutes, hips, and back.
We didn’t notice anything particularly special about the wave traction design built into the roller. Overall, it did roll very smoothly and maybe this was thanks to the wave design. But it was hard to tell. We were using it on a carpet which might have mitigated that feature.
Charging the foam roller was easy. We found it took the same time to charge (3 hours) as Therabody says. And the battery lasted for the same time, although we used it at the slower, less intense levels.
We’d point out that if you have other Therabody products (for us, we also tested the Theragun Mini), make sure you use the correct charger – or check that they are interchangeable. In our case, the Theragun Mini and Wave Roller chargers look very similar. But they only work for their specific product.
We found the app pretty cool. It has pre-programmed rolling routines you can follow. Or you can create your own. If you don’t care to follow any specific program, just having the app as a wireless remote was useful to change intensity settings without getting off the roller or fumbling around with the buttons.
And now, finally, for our review on the massage vibrations. Honestly, it felt great. Like sitting in a massage chair where the massage was purely focused on the area you were rolling.
Now, did it enhance the recovery of our sore muscles? Maybe. But we can’t say for sure – it didn’t feel like the intense muscle penetration you might expect. Instead, it just felt nice, almost relaxing – even at the highest setting.
Overall the roller was very quiet, but it did get louder as you turned up the intensity. You might feel self-conscious using it at its higher settings around other people.
Overall, we really like the Wave Roller. It’s good for large muscle groups and feels great when you are using it. The app is a nice feature.
Just don’t expect to really dig into trigger points. This slightly reduces the effectiveness of the vibrations.
But if you want a more relaxed foam rolling experience, the Wave Roller is a great option.