The Grid – A Review

Image of the black and orange 'Grid' foam roller next to each other

Girl on GRID foam roller

So, as I mentioned in this blog at the weekend. Last week I was the lucky recipient of a brilliant product, somewhat aptly (as we shall come to discuss) named ‘The GRID’, courtesy of Physical Company, and the wonderful Running Free Magazine

Now, before I get too far ahead of myself – I should note, that I am aware of the benefits of Foam Roller(ing), and of Myofascial Release. I have a foam roller at home, and looking at the saggy lump of foam, it has not had a particularly long life. With respect to this, I had in recent times been looking at other rollering options on the market, and was in all honesty considering a purchase of the grid at some point, although probably not until the New Year.

Used and squashed foam roller
No, I'm not that fat really!!

First Impressions

When first opening the parcel, the grid comes quite minimally packaged – around its lower extremities is a fold out poster of some sample stretches/exercises and some pamphlets about the contraption itself.

The thing that instantly stands out – even to someone who is aware of the purpose of the grid, is those lumps and bumps of different shapes and sizes, referred to in the advertising bumpf as ‘Distrodensity Zones’. It looks positively terrifying, yet at the same time it appears to me to be reassuringly effective.

The item itself looks really well made, and pretty solid despite its diminutive size: Dimensions are approximately 13″ tall, and about 5″ in diameter, the bulk of which is fresh air given the hollow plastic core around which the EVA foam is wrapped. It’s this core that gives the grid so much strength, and will allow it to hold up to far more abuse than a conventional roller made of a tube of foam cells like mine. Of course it also keeps the hippies happy, as there is less waste foam floating aroung the world, clogging up land-fills etc.

So, In summation: this is a well built, solid, quality bit of gear, and I can’t wait to give it ago.

How does it work

Really, it’s all about those previously mentioned ‘Distrodensity Zones’, which are described – rather accurately it has to be said – by TPTherapy as below

Image of the distrodensity zones of the grid
Distrodensity Zones

The key thing about this roller is the ability to choose the intensity of pressure on each particular body part by selecting the distrodensity zone upon which you place your aching muscles.

I think that perhaps the most fundamental difference with the grid and the bog-standard foam roller is the way in which it is marketed and designed to be used. A foam roller kind of does what it says – its a tube of foam, and you roll on it. The reason for this is to stretch muscles, and ease aching limbs.

But the grid, is a workout tool. It’s designed as a foam roller – to do the things that foam rollers do – and with its extra knobbly bits I would suggest that it does them far more effectively!! You’ll know what I mean the first time you lay your ITB atop the small ‘finger-tip’ like square grid. Not only does it roll though, but Cassidy Phillips has spent a lot of time developing the Trigger Point range, not least the grid, and the strong ideal behind his philosophy is the concept of PRE-GEN : RE-GEN.

Fundamentally, the concept revolves around mobilising muscles, limbs and the body as a unit in preparation for exercise – ensuring that this exercise, whatever it may be, is completed in the most biomechanically efficient way possible. And after exercise, the muscles are looked after, rehabilitated before taking on the next full session of training. This all leads to a far more balanced body before, during and after exercise.

The thing that really sets the grid apart from everything else is that it has been developed as a fitness tool, as an addition to the grid trigger point have developed Smrt-CORE, a series of three DVDs which offer workouts based around the use of the grid with regards to both core fitness and the benefit of massage. Each of the DVDs have a steadily progressing level of intensity depending on how good your core strength is.

I have not tried the DVDs, but I would like to. However, at £16 extra per disk it seems a little pricey, and I would really appreciate a cheaper option to download the sessions to a computer – I know other fitness companies manage it (sufferfest as an example) so I can’t envisage it being too difficult for them to do.

So, in summation

The Grid is marvelous. It aims to be so much more than a foam roller, and accomplishes it with aplomb! The quality is there in spades; it is well made, strong, and I’m sure further testing will not see a saggy lump of nonsense as has occured with my regular foam tube. A key example of this quality is that even when laid on top of the grid to look down, you can see light shining through the gaps in the zones where they don’t compress against the floor.

If you run/cycle/well pretty much any sport at all, and don’t have a foam roller, then read the links at the top of the page, and understand why you should have one!! Once you are convinced – ignore the tubes of foam, and buy the Grid. It’s so much better.

If you do foam roller already, don’t replace your foam tube with another once you’ve compressed it beyond it’s useful life – but upgrade!

As a final little upside – think about that hole running down the middle: the grid is ideal for traveling with as it is small enough to be packed, and you can save space stuffing your running gear in the gap in the middle :-) win win!

You won’t regret it – although your ITB may have something to say after the first couple of goes :-)

I know I won my grid, but for £40 or so its possibly one of the best bits of kit you can have in your armoury for continued successful running.

And of course, the best bit of all is that your other half can have a good giggle as they watch you squirm the first few times :-)


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