By Nilufer Atik – Telegraph
Is the Grid X the answer to body aches? Beckham thinks so.
Do you suffer from niggling aches and twinges? A new type of ‘trigger’ therapy, already used by David Beckham, may be the answer – and you can do it all by yourself Neck strain, back ache, and shoulders so tight they’re virtually glued to your earlobes – it’s fair to say that sitting at a desk all day does nobody’s body any favours. Not to mention the discomfort that often comes with our extra-curricular activities. Just a few hours spent kicking a ball around the park with the kids at the weekend can leave some of us with calves as rigid as stone come Monday.
And if you’ve ever been daft enough to try the latest high- energy gym class following a long abstinence from exercise, you’ll definitely know what it’s like to “feel the burn” the next morning as you shuffle, wincing, to the bathroom. The usual approach to treating sore muscles – especially those that persist – is to indulge in a nice long massage, or pay a visit to your nearest physiotherapist for some tension-releasing stretches. But lately, the focus among health practitioners has been on using a clever technique called Trigger Point Therapy (TPT).
In a nutshell, trigger points, or muscle knots, are small patches of super-contracted muscle fibres that cause aching and stiffness. When activated through strain or injury, they prompt pain either at the site itself, or refer it elsewhere in the body. If you suffer from recurrent backache, for example, that throbbing agony may have nothing to do with your spine at all but be caused by referred pain from trigger points in your buttocks, or even your stomach. No kind of therapy applied to the back itself will relieve it, so TPT could be the solution.
Ever had a niggling headache that just wouldn’t go away no matter how many pills you popped? Well, again it could be coming from a trigger point in your neck. So apply pressure to the right spot there, et voilà! Head pain gone. Until recently, patients wishing to receive TPT have had to visit a qualified therapist, who would administer the treatment using their hands or assorted tools. This can be expensive and time-consuming. But now there’s a useful new piece of equipment anyone can use at home alone – and it’s catching the eye of the fitness and celebrity world.
The GRID X has been specially designed to mimic the palm, fingers and thumbs used by TPT practitioners. It is lightweight and measures just 33cm (13in) in length, so can be used anywhere. David Beckham is a huge fan of the bizarre-looking device and was pictured cradling it under his arm when he headed back from the World Cup on board a private jet. Yes, it can be used on a plane too. According to Ben Yauss, strength and conditioning coach for LA Galaxy, where Beckham played between 2007-12, the 39-year-old footballer first began using the original version GRID (the GRID X was released in May this year) to help his body bounce back after a gruelling 90 minutes on the pitch, or following a tough training session.
“Five to 10 minutes of rolling makes sure he’s not stiff or sore the next day,” explains Yauss, adding that the gentle manipulation boosts blood flow to Beckham’s tired muscles, speeding up his recovery. Even though he’s now retired from football, it’s obvious Beckham still works out regularly to keep his chiselled torso in check. And incorporating therapeutic tools like TPT into his training regime is apparently an essential part of his mid-30s mantra: Exercise in balance. “It’s not just about lifting or running or stretching or flexibility work, it’s a combination of all of them,” says Yauss. “By taking a holistic approach to fitness, David is able to stay healthy and dribble circles around guys 15 years his junior.”
No wonder then that he still has the energy (and skin) of a man half his age. But Beckham isn’t the only celebrity GRID lover. Hollywood heart-throb Mark Wahlberg regularly uses the special roller after a muscle-pumping workout at the gym. X-Men actor Eric Dane is often spotted easing his back out with one in the park. Weighing under 2lbs (1kg) and measuring 14cm (5½in) in diameter, it may not look that strong but the GRID X can actually support 500lbs (227kg) in body weight, so even obese people struggling with pain affecting their mobility can use it.
“It is basically for anybody who wants to move with greater ease, less pain, and with improved flexibility,” says Alistair Crawford, the UK spokesman for TriggerPoint, the company behind GRID. “And that applies to people who exercise as well as those who don’t.” He warns that people mustn’t confuse what the GRID does with massage though, as the two are very different. “Massage is more geared towards stress reduction and relaxation whereas TPT is a pressure technique that targets specific muscles to eliminate very specific pain issues and activate those muscles better. The GRID uses 3D distrodensity zones, which are special grooves, to help channel blood and oxygen directly to the tissues.”
Daily activities such as sitting at a desk, driving, and going through repetitive motions can elicit major stress in the muscles. This can lead to decreased range of motion, muscular imbalances, and debilitating pain or injury. “We simply don’t move around as much as we used to and our bodies suffer for it,” adds Crawford. “Muscles need oxygenating and stretching regularly or they basically seize up or weaken. Our first port of call is often painkillers but they only treat the symptoms of muscular pain, not the cause. People should be empowered to take care of their own bodies.”
The GRID X isn’t complicated to use, but it does take a bit of practice. And if you target a particularly sensitive area, it can be a little eye-watering at first. Once the tissue around the muscle loosens up though, the “aaaargh” factor soon sets in. Before you know it, you’re moving around as lightly as a ballerina on a cloud.
These exercises are designed to hit most of the major ‘trigger’ areas
Sit with one leg on the GRID, just below the meaty part of the calf, and the other leg resting on top. Bend your lower leg, pulling the knee towards you to roll the Grid towards the back of your ankle, then push the leg out to roll it up towards the back of the calf.
Mid to upper back
Place the GRID half way up your back, with knees bent and feet hip distance apart on the floor. Place your hands behind your head or on your chest and lift the buttocks slightly. Now roll forwards and backwards slowly. If you have a particularly painful spot, stop there for a few seconds.
In a plank position with the GRID placed just above the kneecap of one leg, bend the non-working knee to the side below hip level then put your forearms flat on the floor and use them to roll yourself forwards and back. Keep the working leg straight.
Lie face down and place the GRID diagonally across the outer part of your chest, just inside your armpit. Place your hands in a push up position. Then roll backwards and forwards gently, pausing at any particularly tight spot for a few seconds.
Place the GRID beneath the centre of your buttocks to one side then shift the weight onto the grid and roll backwards and forwards slowly.
Prices for the GRID start at HK$280.