Product Review: Armaid

Original Post Feb 1, 2004

Update, June 2008: I'm happy to report that Armaid is available once again, after being off the market for a while. I got a sample to check out since I was such an outspoken proponent, and it's everything it was before.

It's been redesigned in a stronger material and with manufacturing changes that are important to its viability as a product, without visibly changing its appearance, other than a nice new blue color. (I can picture one of my kids selling my original, Armaid twenty years from now in a garage sale—after the obligatory 20 minutes explaining what it is—and saying "look, original black!") For instance, I think the main pivot point has been reengineered to require fewer parts. If you read my full review, below, you'll see that I predicted that the manufacturing cost could be an important factor in keeping this wonderful solution on the market and Terry Cross has done it, at once again. Every physical- and therapeutic massage therapist office in the industrial world should have one of these. Tell them when you visit.

I am not compensated by Armaid. -jb   

What has a class-two lever, 3 balls, 7 types of material, a ball-and-socket, a roller and solves lots of folks RSI problem? Terry Cross's Armaid

After my physical therapist solved my RSI problem—a problem that surgery apparently only half solved—with hands-on massage, I set out to invent a self-massaging contraption. I had in mind a sort of wringer, like the antique washing machine wringers you might have seen on old-time washers. I actually made a prototype gizmo in my workshop. It had two wooden dowels, about 1" in diameter and 18" long. One end of each was mounted to rolling furniture casters which in turn were fastened to a table top. The other end was loose. The dowels were covered by polyurethane pipe insulation. Despite 30 years of mechanical tinkering, I could never quite get the dimensions and mechanics right.


Hey, this is not quite what my physical therapist looks like!

A few months later, I was using my favorite free web search tool,, to look for RSI stuff, and what floats to the top of the list but this site for, so I took a look. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw my washing machine wringer in real live, virtual, www flesh-and-blood. I clicked on all the right pages, entered my credit card number, and waited beside my mailbox for the next 48 hours. (We RSI types tend to be compulsive and impatient.)

Sure enough, the postman delived this device that was exactly what I couldn't quite confangle. I used it on the big muscle on the top of my forearm when my arm starts feeling "wiry," and it works. Whether it's because it encourages circulation or flushes away the waste products of metabolism I don't know... and I don't really care. It's simply more convenient than seeing the therapist, less expense, and works a lot better than trying to use your thumb and fingers to do the job. It works because it harnesses mechanical advantage with a lever action. The roller lets your arm move back and forth while you pinch it against the balls, which do the massaging. The whole thing straps to your leg for stability and it has a big ball joint so it can easily face any side of your arm.

It's been about a year since I got my Armaid. In preparation for a speech I gave on International RSI Awareness Day, I interviewed the creator/owner/marketer/therapist/father of Armaid, Terry Cross. He's been in the therapy world for a while and wanted to really provide a solution to the vexing RSI problem. Somehow he worked a little miracle. I wondered for a while if Armaid was "the" solution to RSI, but as most folks in the field will tell you, RSI is not one thing. It's not just tendinitis or nerve adhesions or inflammation or tension. But those are surely the physiological underpinnings of many sufferers' conditions and Armaid attacks them mightily. I only need to use Armaid every once in a while, but just a few days ago my arm was really achy from an intense workload. And I couldn't wait to dig out my Armaid and feel the relief. And that's what inspired me to finally get busy and write this long-overdue review... that and another testimonial I saw recently on Sorehand. Here's the comment, without the author's name, to protect privacy:

"I got an Armaid 3 weeks ago on recommendations here. For me it has been wonderful! My RSI is from poor mouse & keyboard technique, plus piano playing and bike riding; it has manifested itself as burning in the forearm and pain just above the elbow (lateral epicondylitis or Tennis elbow). I was surprised to find that working the Armaid on the forearm relieves the pain above the elbow, as well as the burning in the forearm. Before the Armaid, my forearm was like a bundle of snakes on fire. It's still kinda snaky in there, but the fire is almost completely gone now, and the snakes are slimmer. I had really rapid progress in the first week (the first two days, even) and then the progress slowed down -- but I am typing and touchpadding (with much modified technique) comfortably now. Still staying away from the piano and off the bike for now. I liked it so much that I bought a second one as a backup -- I wanted to let a friend try it for awhile, but was unwilling to go awhile without one. I have been refraining from writing to Sorehand about it for a while, so that I could give a more informed opinion and could perhaps tone down my enthusiasm enough that I don't sound like a rabid Armaid devotee. But I do love what that thing is doing for me! Thanks to those here who pointed me to it, and of course also to its inventor, long may he live."

Now, for a lot of RSI sufferers, $100 might as well be a million. And if you don't have $100, no amount of logic is important, but for those on the fence, let me share my thoughts on the price. Knowing something about manufacturing costs, I took one look at Armaid and was surprised it could be sold for as little as $100. It has at least 7 different types of material (injection-molded plastic, rubber, spring steel, machined aluminum, fabric, polyurethane, and nylon). Injection molding alone costs somewhere around a half-million dollars for a product of this complexity. The bottom line is, by my estimation, $100 is an extremely low price. (I'm more concerned about the opposite possibility, that the maker is not able to get enough profit out of each sale to keep making Armaid. Only time will tell.) If your only alternative is a physical therapist who charges $100 for one to three hours, it's money well spent. Don't have $100? Join an RSI support group and get a few folks to chip in for one. Not convinced it will be right for you? Take Terry up on his money-back guarantee—it's an honest offer. And tell your friends.

Their site:

Good luck, and let us know what you think.