Featured Recovery Reviews

The Orb

The OrbHours in the saddle can certainly punish the body and when it comes post-event recovery most of us can’t rely on (or afford) pro sports massages on a regular basis. When the option for some light self-massage arises the roam roller – the very definition of the pain/pleasure principle – seems to be the general weapon of choice; now though The Orb from Pro-Tec Athletics, whilst not a straight alternative, brings some added benefits of its own…


The 5inch ball, made of high-density EVA foam can be used in a variety of ways – all of which fundamentally involve using the body’s weight to roll and massage – to release tension in the muscles. Whilst a roller allows only single-direction relief, The Orb gives a multidirectional-workout, which feels rather more targeted and, because of the reduced surface area, deeper too.


Arguably there are disadvantages over a roller – hence we think of it as an addition not a replacement – in that more of a balancing act is involved particularly, we found, when working on the quads or tackling The Orb side-on for an ITB workout. But The Orb does come into its own in dealing with calves, glutes and hamstrings where the added intensity feels particularly well judged and using it between the shoulder blades (against a wall) was a sublime relief.


Okay, so arguably you could achieve much of this with a tennis ball at a fraction of The Orb’s £18 asking price but the size, weight and non-slip dimpled texture do all feel perfectly balanced. It’s also far more portable than most foam rollers (although Pro-Tec do produce a nifty 4inch x 12inch travel roller too) so tucking The Orb in the kit bag for some immediate post-sportive relief is an option we would heartily recommend.


Take a look at our review of the Pro-Tec Y Roller here and of The Stick here



Recovery Reviews

Pro-Tec Y Roller

Y Roller ReviewAmerican company Pro-Tec Athletics started out in 1991 with a single product – the Knee Pro-Tec Patella Tendon Strap – before expanding its product offering to include further specialised supports for running injuries; in 2012 they introduced the Y Roller, an elastomer (elastic polymer) constructed massage roller that featured a unique dual-ridge design. At Cyclo we’ve had plenty of cause to use massage rollers over the years – not least to ease tight IT bands and calf muscles; we put the Y Roller through its paces to see how it measured up.


On initial impressions, the Y Roller looked to be well made, sturdy and firm; the manufacturers claim that the elastomer used is the highest density and most durable foam possible, able to withstand constant, heavy and repeated usage without breaking down.


The unusual design has two parallel ridges each of which splits into two tram-line-like ridges on one side of the roller and remerge into a single ridge on the opposite; Pro-Tec say that the dual/single ridge option offers, ‘a targeted aggressive massage’ or the ability to ‘…roll in between ridges for a less aggressive, moderate massage.’ What this meant in practical terms was that we could roll our IT band between the dual ridges – which was firm and applied a good amount of pressure – and then slowly rolled the IT band up onto the single ridge to apply a more focused, deeper and better targeted tissue massage.


Initially we confess to having been a little unsure of exactly how to roll effectively over the dual/single ridge design, but the Y Roller comes with an easy to understand guide (and there are some helpful online videos), which shows how to use the roller for different areas of the body. It took a few back-and-forth rolls to get the hang of things, but once mastered never forgotten (appropriately like riding a bike…) The Y Roller works well across other muscle groups; calf, hamstrings, glutes, upper- and lower-back all benefitted, as did the arch of the foot (excellent after extended peddle sessions) and because of the Y Roller’s size it easily took care of quadriceps – something lesser rollers can struggle with.


The Y Roller has a diameter of 15cm and is 40cm long, which makes it a little larger than its rival the Trigger Point GRID (12cm/33cm), but comes in at around the same price £38.99. Now we’re used to the initially tricky ridge rolling technique the Y Roller could well become our massage tool of choice.


Available from, with further information at and a number of instructional videos online, such as the one below.