ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tait Yoder hopes his STARWrap becomes as popular as the foam roller for empowering athletes to actively participate in the treatment and prevention of injuries.
Yoder, a massage therapist and athletic trainer of almost 20 years, says the STARWrap was born from a realization that the top-tier athletes he worked with spent 15 hours a week or more training and only 90 minutes on active recovery with him.
“The strain we all put on our muscles needs to be matched with active recovery,” he says.
So he took a lesson from many trigger-point therapy techniques and tools and came up with a system that allows athletes to “take a massage with you.”
The STARWrap (Soft Tissue Active Release) is a Velcro strap that can be attached to an arm or leg and has a tool attached that is directed at “the ouchy part,” Yoder says.
“We played with shapes (of the tools) and came up with some that mimic what I would do with my hands and elbows.”
The result is pressure on the spot that hurts (often called a “knot” in the muscle or lesion) while the athletes moves the limb through a range of motion.
This, Yoder says, does not add any time to the athlete’s routine and, for some, has led to improved performance.
While STARWrap can be used daily to help active people prevent injuries to prone areas, where the device shines is its ability to help the wearer eliminate pain. Yoder says direct pressure to the muscles responsible for the pain is pretty much standard treatment for massage therapists and others who do various types of body work. That direct pressure can be from hands-on treatments as well as foam rollers, tennis balls, etc. What the STARWrap does is take that direct pressure and apply it as long as it takes to release the tension in the muscle.
Yoder says a lot of people will comment to him that they “carry a lot of stress” in parts of their bodies. And, over time, that stress will turn into a nagging pain.
“The trick is to tune into that pain, listen to your body and do something about it,” he says. “We are very good at adapting to that pain, but I tell you from experience, it doesn’t go away, and it will get worse.”
He is constantly trying new applications of the STARWrap with clients. For example, he says that the wrap method is very effective on arms and legs, but it is a little harder to strap one of the tools onto a hip or shoulder.
“Different body shapes and sizes make it difficult to attach the strap properly,” he says.
So, he is working on ways to put the wrap around a foam roller and use it against the wall for areas in the shoulders, upper back, neck and hips.
“It is a more targeted approach than, say, a tennis ball,” he says, in that the tool attached to a roller is less likely to move around. “Of course, you can’t walk around and use it this way.”
The STARWrap is being manufactured in Georgia in small batches and is available online at Amazon.com and through some physical therapists and gyms in town.
Yoder says he is working to improve the product and its uses and let the market for the device grow “organically.”