Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Product Review: The Stick

In 2006 I ran my 3rd Boston Marathon and discovered the most amazing running invention called The Stick. I thought it was a gimmick at first. I was at the expo the day before the race. Walking past a booth a man named Patrick with an Australian accent coaxed me over so he could rub out my calves with his yellow handled stick with white round beads. Oh, the pain!!! He told me it targeted knots and I believed. The next day I ran a negative split marathon and felt great at the end. Of course this was mostly due to the months of training I’d done previous but deep down inside I also had to admit my calves had never felt this good after a marathon. I was converted!

The stick is made by Intracell Technology and has been used and endorsed by top athletes in almost every sport. It has 1 inch wide spindles that spin freely around a semi flexible core. By rolling the stick along the muscle tissue it warms, relaxes, and works knots out. It flexible core and spindles wrap around and contour to the muscle targeting and reducing trouble spots without bruising.

This type of deep tissue massage releases knots or trigger points removing lactic acid and allows increased blood flow to stimulate healthy muscle growth. In simple terms; Muscle knots don’t allow the muscle to flex or work properly. This can affect other muscles around it or strain its connective tissue. No matter how great your workout is, a muscle with a knot isn’t going to strengthen and repair as well as a healthy relaxed muscle.

What makes it so special?

When I was in college our coach once a week would have us give deep tissue leg massages to each other. We’d slop lotion on our calves and with sometimes intense pressure run our thumbs up the leg of our poor running partner. It was excruciating but did the trick. We always left feeling like our legs were more relaxed and springier. The stick does this same thing without lotion, without a partner, and better and more precisely than our clumsy thumbs!

I’ve heard of other people using a rolling pin which does work to some degree but has drawbacks. Rolling pins don’t contour to the muscle. Therefore they can bruise and flatten out the muscle without releasing the knot and causing unneeded pain.

The stick comes in a variety of sizes and stiffnesses. I prefer the marathon stick 20” long (yellow handle) which is more flexible than the original stick for my calves. Marathoners typically have leaner muscle and not as much therefore the stick doesn’t have to penetrate as deeply to be effective. This flexibility allows greater muscle contour as well.

I also have enjoyed the original stick 24” long (blue handle) because it is longer for working back muscles and is stiffer for glutes, IT bands and quads. The Travel stick 17” long (red handle) has the same flexibility as the original but is shorter for ease of packing.

Here is what Intracell’s website says about their product:

Athletes in all sports and at all levels can benefit from the Stick. Many thousands of high school, college, university and Olympic athletes follow the lead of numerous professionals including: New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres....
Some Stick benefits include:

  • Warms muscle without expending vital energy stores
  • Performs both general and segmental stretching procedures
  • Removes trigger point barriers to peak athletic performance
  • Enhances strength, flexibility and endurance
  • Accelerates muscle recovery and relieves pain

Speed, Strength and Endurance
Emphasis on flexibility training by most athletes is almost non-existent. However, flexibility is crucial for developments in speed, strength and endurance. The usual approach to flexibility is less than optimal since muscle rarely stiffens uniformly. Typically, isolated segments of muscle become chronically shortened. Intracell Technology allows an athlete to perform general stretching as well as segmental stretching procedures with a high degree of precision.

Growth, Repair and Glycogen
Restricted blood flow to the muscles following exercise hinders muscle growth, muscle repair and glycogen repletion. Blood flow restrictions are due to generalized muscle tightness and barrier trigger points. Intracell Technology relaxes tight muscle to enhance muscle growth, repairs tissue and augments glycogen repletion following heavy exercise.

Enhanced Lactic Acid Removal
During exercise, lactic acid can build to critical levels where optimal performance is sacrificed, Intracell Technology expedites the discharge of lactic acid from your muscles and encourages its conversion into glucose by the liver. Intracell Technology appears to be very promising in the arena of enhanced sport performance. Look for more research along these lines in the future.

Comparable Products:

Foam Rollers: These do a great job as well with rolling out and relaxing muscles tissue. I find them harder to use on my calves but a little easier to use on my IT bands if I have ample floor space for laying down.

Pro-Tec roller Massage: A mix between the stick and foam rollers. The spindles are wider and have foam on them. I felt like this product was a knock-off and was inferior.


  • Original Stick: $42.50
  • Marathon Stick:$31.95
  • Travel Stick: $27.50

I recommend this product to all runners old and young, elite or just starting. Using it decreases recovery time, decreases injuries, and aides recovery from injuries. It is my favorite running accessory!

David Bell

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