Getting the Blackroll humming
The butterflies in your stomach are now available for arms and legs. The Blackroll «Booster» hums, vibrates and massages whatever the battery has power for, and it even comes with different heads. Is this a tool to fall in love with?
We all have our role in a relationship. My fascia roll is tailor-made for its rolling role, and always worked without complaint. It supported me as only it could. Nothing exciting beyond that, but it did a good job. And now? Now this black thing with a load of accessories is lying before me. The Blackroll slim comes with the «Booster» and «Booster Head» and promises serious tingling. Have I been missing something all these years?
Booster Slim (30cm)
This new technology, a vibrating core insert, supports the effect of the classical roller on multiple levels.
The lowdown: assessing the inner value
The Blackroll itself is hollow. It comprises the standard «slim» model, which would fit in any sports bag at just 30 cm long and 10 cm high. The «Booster» provides its inner value. It’s a vibrating core with a frequency range of 12 - 56 Hz, which can be pushed into the roll and secured or used as an exercise tool in its own right. Oscillating movement and the resulting muscle vibrations are claimed to promote circulation and regeneration. Putting pressure on trigger points also promises to be less painful. I’m excited to try it. The «Booster Head» attachments transform the vibrating core into a tool for pin-point massage, leaving the roll itself without a role to play (get it?).
Flight reflex: the thing can really move!
First up, I try the roll with the «Booster». It comes with a micro USB cable and an adaptor to charge the 2250 mAh battery. When charged and attached to the roll, the «Booster» is controlled via two buttons (+ and -). Alongside the controls sit six LEDs, which display the level of charge and the selected intensity level.
The «Booster» is controlled using two buttons.
That’s it – and it’s all you need. A little patience is required, as the «Booster» doesn’t start immediately when pressing and holding the two buttons. The LEDs start to flash at first, then you have a few seconds to get yourself ready. It’s a good job too; otherwise the thing can easily get out of control and shoot around the room – the vibration can be pretty intense if you choose a higher level. This happened to me and I soon learned that a fitness mat is a necessity when using the «Booster» on a hard floor. Trust me, your ears will thank you.
Legs like jelly
As the 30 cm Blackroll slim is best suited to extremities and you need to take care when using just the «Booster» on your neck, my test focused on working my legs. I have a few painful trigger points on my calves and I was keen to see whether the vibration could get the better of them. I have hypertonia, and three sports massage sessions have failed to turn me into a relaxed «victim»: I didn’t manage to endure deep friction massage without needing a break. If vibration helps to reduce this muscular tension, I thought, bring it on. Aside from easing tight muscles, the «Booster» is said to have another benefit. According to physiotherapist Melissa Stickel, «the vibration engages and strengthens deeper muscles.»
Physiotherapist and Blackroll trainer Melissa Stickel explains the effects of the «Booster».
Image: Thomas Kunz
What I’ve learned after a few sessions:
I find the exercises with vibration more intense, but less painful.
I do the movements more slowly because the vibration is a constant stimulus. I used to do my exercises too quickly
The «Booster» has plenty of power. The vibration is strong and easy to regulate, but it is loud.
The «Booster» without the roll
I really like using the «Booster» inside the roll, but it supposedly also works as a training device in its own right. Just hold it at the ends, straighten your arms and do exercises such as side bends, squats and lunges accompanied by high-frequency vibration. The vibration is said to focus on activating and training deep muscle layers, like training with a Flexi-Bar. The vibrations are powerful enough to strain you a quite bit and make your whole arm shake. The effects are palpable, but it’s not my favourite type of training. There’s just tttoooooo mmmuuuccchhh ssshhhaaakkkiiinnnggg! You really have to like it.
The Booster with head attachments
The Head is the extension to make the Booster an even more efficient therapy and regeneration tool.
Adding the «Booster Head» turns the vibrating core into a targeted massager. The three heads offer different levels of hardness and a massage hook, which can be attached at three separate angles:
0 degrees: this makes the head an extension of the core and the friction of the massage promises to work on a deeper level.
90 degrees: positioned side-on, the attachment delivers a vigorous massage.
45 degrees: this position combines both of the above effects and lends itself perfectly to adding the massage hook, which stimulates the tissue when rolled over the skin.
The massage heads can be used at different angles.
Hold the «Booster» at the bottom end for massaging so that the head can move freely and its effect can take hold. I could mainly feel my arm vibrating from holding it, and struggled to concentrate on the area I wanted to focus on. It’s not that the massage attachment wouldn’t vibrate – the effect was there. But, personally, I didn‘t find it very helpful, and I was pleased to bring the humming to an end. Despite all the instructions and tips on the Blackroll app (for iOS and Android), I’m somewhat sceptical about this type of self-treatment and would rather leave it to more practiced hands.
The «Booster» definitely delivers serious tingling. If you’re serious about training, combining it with the Blackroll slim is a great choice for long-term results. The «Booster» turns it into a vibrating power roll to boost your training, and I found these exercises less painful and more effective. That said, this also turns quiet fascia training into a pretty loud affair – and an expensive one, as the «Booster» is at an entirely different price level to the standard roll. The quality is in line with this, but the investment only pays off if you use it consistently. As a standalone tool without the roll, I wouldn’t use the «Booster», and the «Booster Head» attachment isn’t my thing either. Yes to the vibration function, but only inside the roll.
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