An early memory:
Our neighbor had a cat. I was about 8 years old. I sat down and stroked the cat’s head. As I moved my hands to its front legs and gently compressed the muscles in the foreleg, the cat’s claw jutted straight out and stayed extended until I released the pressure. I was astonished by this connection between the muscles way up in the foreleg and the effect way down at the claw.
That startling moment remains clear to me to this day.
Around the same time in my life, my mom asked me to rub her sore shoulders and neck. Some people can “see” another person’s structure by touching them and intuitively knowing where to apply pressure. (In Japan and other parts of Asia, in fact, blind men often became highly sought-after masseurs.) I learned early on that I had that ability, and by helping my mom, I gained the confidence that I could make a difference for someone by rubbing their aching muscles.
For 15 years in the 1970’s and 1980’s I lived in Singapore, Tokyo and parts of Southeast Asia. Most of that time was spent working construction and salvage diving for the offshore oil industry. In my diving trade, I traveled to virtually every Asian country that had a coastline.
From local teachers with traditional massage styles and techniques, I learned diverse massage skills. I was the one called in to help if someone on the diving crew had a sore back, twisted ankle or a kinked neck.
When it became time to think of another career, I knew I had a gift of massage; but like all gifts innate to our nature, it needed to be developed. I returned to the United States in the 80s and began a 2-year in-depth massage course in San Diego.
I soon realized that I had a distinct preference for Sports Injury Massage. I liked the beauty and challenge of fixing an athlete’s performance problems in as few sessions as possible. Because of my strength and size, and use of the best professional sports massage techniques, I was eventually in big demand by pro athletes and weekend warriors.
But after several years of doing constant massage work and neglecting my own muscle maintenance, I developed tendinitis in my forearms, wrists and elbows from over-tightened muscles. This breakdown of my career made me stop and think: What now? I knew how common arm tendinitis was across all humans in all activities - was there a way I could help address the problem?
I realized the most efficient way would be through self-massage, so people could help themselves at the exact time they needed relief – not suffering while waiting to get an appointment with a massage or physical therapist.
Regular maintenance would also be critical. If people used their arms and hands to the max every day at their job or sport, then every day they would need to clean out that tightness and lactic acid so their muscles would be refreshed and ready for more. Just like brushing teeth, maintenance every day keeps problems away.
Finally, I knew the best trigger point therapy technique to address tendinitis, but I had to figure out how to effectively apply this technique through self-massage without fatigue. I had to think of a tool to do the job.
I’ve always been a big fan of the insight known as Occam’s Razor. What this means is that the best answer to a problem is almost always the simplest. My criteria for design included four things:
- Be simple
- Few parts
- Deliver any amount of pressure with the least amount of effort
- Use it, in a session, for as long as one desired
One afternoon while driving to my son’s soccer game, not thinking at all about tool design, I had a wave of intense, electric, whole-body, mental, emotional epiphany and I got a perfect design metaphor: a nutcracker! It’s nearly impossible to easily crack open a nut with only our fingers. But if a nutcracker is used, one can crack open a whole bucket of nuts. That’s the power of using leverage.
Once I had this realization, it was simply a matter of making prototype refinements until the design was complete.
It seems perfect that the Armaid massage tool is based upon leverage. Our muscles, tendons and bones work together as levers to make all body movement possible. This symmetry of using an external lever to restore the body’s internal levers is beautiful. It makes me feel I have achieved the simplicity of Occam’s Razor.
Self-Care Tools by Terry M. Cross:
Armaid® and Rolflex™ (rubbit™)
People contact us wondering about the differences between Armaid and Rolflex. Both tools were invented by Terry M. Cross, Sports Massage Therapist and HHP, and are based on the same leverage-enhancing design. We asked Terry to talk about the two products and how their designs impact their use.
The main practical difference between Armaid and Rolflex is the way the attachments affect different body parts. Armaid attachments are designed for use on the hands and arms, and each attachment is very specific in how it is used and the issue it is intended to address. Rolflex attachments are designed for general application and with a general intent, and are effective on a wide range of body parts.
Before I go any further, I'd like to end some confusion: Rolflex was originally named rubbit, the name was changed after the initial product launch to reach a broader audience.
Now, to the details about the differences between the product attachments.
Armaid attachments are all built around a flexible rod, constructed of 7 lengths of thin stainless steel encased in a nylon tube. This rod has sufficient tensile strength and durability to bend when pushed and then return to its original position (“flexing”). Flexing occurs throughout use, as increasing or decreasing amounts of pressure are applied by the user on different parts of the arm. As a result, the user gets highly nuanced, multi-dimensional feedback from the Armaid, similar to the information a massage therapist would get through their hands when giving a massage. Flexing is a key part of why the Armaid attachments are able to address issues in the smaller, articulated parts of the arm and hand.
Rolflex attachments are built around a solid, ridged plastic core, to gain efficiency in the manufacturing process. As a result, the dynamism, or feedback, that is required to give an effective massage comes from the shape and density of the foam part of the attachments. The stiff core and attachment design also allow the tool to be effective with larger muscle groups (legs, back).
Here is a point-by-point contrast of Armaid and Rolflex. We hope this helps you pick the best tool to address your needs!
- Both Armaid and Rolflex were invented and developed by Terry Cross, Sports Injury Massage Therapist.
- Both share the same unique leverage design which allows the easy application of professional therapy techniques.
- Both are portable and manually operated.
- Both can be purchased on the manufacturer’s website or Amazon. Free domestic shipping is available on both.
- Both provide instructional videos online to educate users on therapy techniques.
- Both provide free shipping on replacement parts under the terms of their warranties.
Product Differences - Therapeutic:
Armaid - Armaid is designed to address nuanced, mutli-dimensional RSI and muscle overuse issues in the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, biceps and triceps.
The tool incorporates up to four separate rollers that vary in shape and density to provide a range of intensities with a variety of therapy techniques: Circulatory Massage, Trigger Point Relief/Active Release, and Cross Fiber Friction.
Armaid can be used to address symptoms associated with: Tendinitis, Tennis Elbow, Golfers Elbow, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, De Quervains thumb, forearm “pump”, scar tissue and Lymphedema.
Armaid is designed to sit comfortably on the leg with a molded plastic base and, if desired, a neoprene strap for greater stability.
Rolflex - Rolflex is designed to address general RSI and muscle overuse issues in the arms, legs, back and shoulders. The tool incorporates two attachments of different shapes and density (soft and medium) which can be used to perform Circulatory Massage and Trigger Point Relief. It has a detachable arm for use on the legs, and additional accessories to extend the tools reach to the neck, shoulders, and back.
Rolflex has a non-skid base that can be placed on a surface.
Product Differences – Non-Therapeutic:
- Armaid is manufactured, assembled, and boxed in the USA by The Armaid Company, Inc., and is fulfilled by The Armaid Company, Inc. and authorized retailers worldwide. Rolflex is manufactured, assembled, and boxed in China for Range of Motion Products, LLC., and is fulfilled in the USA by Range of Motion Products, LLC. and authorized retailers worldwide.
- Armaid comes with a 10-year unconditional warranty. Rolflex comes with a 2-year unconditional warranty.
- The most basic Armaid is priced at $69.95 USD on the Armaid website. The most basic Rolflex is priced at $59.95 USD.
- Armaid provides customer support by email or phone and provides therapeutic support by Skype for customers at their request. Rolflex provides customer support by email and phone.
We hope this helps, best of health!