Gear

Reviewed: Roll R3 Foot Roller

We look at the Roll Recovery R3 foot roller, an off-kilter foot roller that does more than just hush your pups.

Basics

Deceptively simple, the Roll R3 foot roller uses clever design to become a Swiss Army tool that triathletes would love.


Pros

Super portable, multifunctional, easy-to use, amazing for plantar pain prevention and treatment

Cons

Slightly more expensive than comparable tools, some may want a rougher texture


Price

$30


Roll R3 Foot Roller

rollrecovery.com

Though this isn’t a brand-new tool, the Roll R3 foot roller recently caught our eye as a great idea that might have flown under the radar for triathletes who like to hurt themselves in so many different ways. Particularly given that so many triathletes are running more than ever right now (and on different surfaces than usual), it’s no surprise that our feet are taking a particularly hard beating. Roll’s R3 may seem like an obvious solution, no better than a lacrosse ball, but due to its asymmetrical and thoughtful design, it’s actually something that should be as mandatory for your injury treatment and prevention as a foam roller

Roll R3 Foot Roller: The Basics

Weighing in at just around a pound, the R3 is made of a very very grippy rubber material that actually feels a lot like a lacrosse ball. Though the ridges on either side of the roller are roughly the same size and width, the wider ridge in the center of the tool has a softer slope and is offset to one side. The two “valleys” between the three ridges are both different widths and different depths. The good news behind this confusing geography lesson is that the asymmetrical shape of the R3 allows the user to work different parts of the foot (or other muscles, but more on that later) quickly and with less attention, and it works for different sizes/shapes of feet. Though very very grippy, the texture of the R3 is basically smooth, with only some shallow ridges and dots to provide some texture.

Roll R3 Foot Roller: More Than Meets The Eye

Ok, so the R3 looks very similar to a lot of foot injury prevention tools available, but because it’s asymmetrical, it actually has more use: for arch pain in the center of the foot, you can use either the wider ridge in the center or one of the narrower side ridges; for foot pain on the outside of your foot in the lateral plantar fascia area, you can use the deep channel; for foot pain on the inside of your foot in the medial plantar fascia area, you can use the shallower channel. These specific areas formed by the unique shape of the tool help guide you as you work though treatment and/or prevention. Also, because of its size and shape, this tool helps other places on your body that might be taking some abuse.

Roll R3 Foot Roller: Not Just A Foot Roller

One of the big draws about this tool is that because of its size and shape, triathletes can use it for other areas of soreness/injury. When placed on the ground, the R3 is actually an excellent tool to help release tension in your glutes, as the low profile makes it easier to place your weight and get more leverage on that tough-to-penetrate muscle group. Though not as effective, you can also use it for tight hamstrings while seated (it doesn’t work quite as well on the floor, here). We also liked using the shallow channel to warm up and gently work the achilles area and then later using the deeper channel for more intense achilles work, while on the ground. On your upper body, with a little creative posturing, you can use the R3 on a table to gently work your triceps or really dig into your forearms—particularly helpful once you start getting back in the water again.

Roll R3 Foot Roller: Ridges, So What?

Now of course even a simple lacrosse ball can technically hit all of these areas as well, but it takes way more concentration to be sure you’re running along those specific areas of the foot and makes for a longer treatment session. The biggest thing about plantar fasciitis is that it’s often preventable with a little bit of treatment before it progresses to a full-blown injury—this is why ease-of-use is so important here. Because you can simply set the R3 down on the ground while you work or take pants-less Zoom meetings (at your own risk, of course) and roll quickly back and forth along these ridges, you’re more likely to cover more ground, more accurately, and more often than if you needed to truly concentrate. Yes, it sounds incredibly lazy, but I can at least speak for myself when I say that if an injury prevention therapy is easy, I’m way more likely to do it. 

Roll R3 Foot Roller: It’s Not All Sun-Kissed Ridges And Warm Valleys

While this is a great tool, it might not be for everyone. First, the super grippy material—for better or for worse—is very soft. This is great because it helps provide some grip, but it also picks up pretty much everything on your floor, and can be a little tough to clean well when it’s time to go from floor to chair or to table. Though the grippiness is super useful for providing friction on your foot, it can also take some time to learn how to “guide” the roller and prevent it from escaping or rotating underfoot. On that same note, this is one of the few foot rollers that doesn’t have a pretty substantial textured surface, so if you’re looking for something with little tiny nubs or big pieces of texture, this might not be for you.

Roll R3 Foot Roller: Conclusions To Write Home About

This is a great tool that could be too understated to get a lot of attention. The fact that the R3 doesn’t have wacky colors or look like it’s from the future may hold it back aesthetically, but in its simplicity is actually its strength. The ability to work all parts of the foot—quickly and easily—and then work probably 50% of the rest of your body is pretty impressive, especially for something you could literally take backpacking if you needed to. While your workout room/garage may be getting clogged with injury treatment tools, this is the one that you can actually reserve a spot for in your workout bag. Again, anything that’s going to be close at hand when you have downtime or immediately pre or post workout is already winning half the battle—the fact that the R3 is also easy to use, pretty much idiot proof, and works an awful lot helps win the rest of the healthy-body battle.