Therabody Wave Roller Review: Self-massage just got smarter

After launching their highly sought Theragun line of percussive massage guns in Australia, Therabody seem more than ready to grow with the burgeoning world of smart tech wellness products. And their first non-gun step in that direction is the Wave Roller – a smart, vibrating version of the classic foam roller, aimed for a convenient at-home recovery tool essential for those who need to relieve muscle pain quickly and efficiently.

Given the popularity of the fourth-gen Theragun series, you’d expect the Waveroller to tread a similar path. After all, Therabody couldn’t have offered this in a more accessible format, with an attractive price point, an intuitive smartphone app, and enough nuance to appeal to a wide range of people.

Keep in mind that nothing in this review should be considered medical advice, and while I live with someone who is a qualified massage therapist, the following is simply my experience with the Wave Roller and what I thought of it as someone who has no significant injuries – but quite a few persistent muscle aches.

Design

There’s no elaborating this one. It’s simply a 12-inch x 5.1-inch, stylishly black, cylindrical roller, made from comfortable hypo-allergenic EVA high density foam. The texture comes from wave-shaped grooves, specifically designed for a smoother and more targeted rolling experience.

You simply start low on the body and work on rolling out those tight spots, with five levels of vibration calibrated to maximise results. While there isn’t much to the design here, it’s all in service to this main function, with the idea being to further the known benefits of a typical wave roller.

And those benefits? Alleviating muscle pain is the big one, but also reducing inflammation post-workout, aiding in muscle repair, promoting relaxation, relieving tension and tightness for injury prevention, and improving blood flow (and I don’t even need to mention how beneficial the last one is).

The device isn’t as weighty as it looks, with 3.3 pounds thanks to the lack of any complicated electronics underneath the foam. You’ve simply got a 12V internal Lithium-Ion Battery hiding in that cylinder, promising – and delivering on – three-hour battery life based on a single charge. In my experience, that’s more than enough, even if you’re using the wave roller extensively around the body.

Of course, the battery life also depends on speed. The device is equipped with five pre-set intensity settings that can be instantly activated either via the app or by long-pressing a power button that sits on one end. Short-presses scroll through the various speed settings, with a faint LED indicating intensity.

Performance

These speed settings are really where Therabody set their Wave Roller apart from the competition – not that they have much in the space anyway. The existing literature on vibrating wave rollers often complain about the lack of nuance in settings, and obviously Therabody have taken that on board.

The Wave Roller isn’t quite as aggressive as the Theragun, which can be pretty powerful to align it with the needs of professional practitioners. Average consumers shouldn’t be intimated by any of these five speeds, the top 2 of which are still soft and accessible, but still powerful that seasoned athletes should be similarly satisfied.

I’ve found the best results come when alternating between short and long movements, most of which I’ve learned via good old YouTube. And there are plenty videos which show you how to use a Wave Roller effectively.

As someone who often gets painful cramps in the calves, and lives a fairly sedentary lifestyle (like most writers), the majority of my use was on the legs. I did notice a substantial relaxing of the calves and hamstrings at night, so I would use this – and still do – before bed every night.

This is furthered by the well designed and easy-to-follow programs offered by the app. Much like with the latest Theragun products, the app is perfectly sync’d with the idea of targeting specific muscle groups. There are various recovery workouts to choose from in the library, each instructing on the specific movements, duration and intensity required to target the respective muscle group.

A lot of the discussion about Theraguns deal with how loud they can get. The buzz sounds like a jack hammer with older models, which is why the fourth-gen guns have found a way to tone the sound down to relatively manageable levels. It looks like the Wave Roller brings up similar issues, with the top two levels of vibration much louder than they should be. I could easily hear this a few rooms away while it was on. That being said, even the most intense setting isn’t as loud here as older Theragun models.

Verdict & Value

A typical non-vibrating foam roller will barely make a dent to your budget, so you’d expect a smart version to bump that significantly, right? Given the premium tag surrounding Therabody, the price point of A$249 really isn’t that bad. Especially when you consider the build quality of this thing, which should last you quite awhile (it also comes with a nicely designed travel bag).

Although the question is very much the same as the one I asked with the Theragun. Do you actually need it? Unlike the fourth-gen Theragun series, the Wave Roller only really presents one option for consumers, with no room for any less expensive models (yet, at least). If you’re just looking for a self-massage solution, that price tag starts to look a bit overblown, but if you throw necessity on top of that and you actually have pain to manage, then I’d say A$249 is a fair ask.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: Distinctive and effective levels of intensity; bottom two levels are very gentle and relaxing; effectively relives tension quickly and consistently; easy to use; beautifully designed app with well thought out programs.
Lowlights: Can be louder than most would like; even the top intensity may be too soft for more intensive use.
Manufacturer: Therabody
Price: A$249
Available: Now

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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