When I say the words, “foam roller,” what comes to mind? QUICK! (please leave a comment! :))
I have a prediction. If you are not a runner and/or you’ve had no experience with this tool before, you might think one of the following:
- A pleasant massage
- An expensive pool toy
- Something soft and stretchy
- Packing material
If you have had experience with this, you may think the following:
- Useful for massaging the I.T. Band
- Unpleasant/painful but helpful
- Medieval torture device
- Necessary evil
(yes, I used the word “evil” twice)
Last year, I had the pleasure of being introduced to the foam roller. My friend, M, was working on her pilates certification and I was one of her
guinea pigs clients. She demanded suggested that I start every pilates session with a “warm up” on the foam roller (ideally, I’d start every day with it, but let’s not get too excited). The idea was to keep the I.T. band stretched out (though it works for other things too, including, but not limited to, spinal stimulation, shoulder massage, quad stretching, etc.).
The technique is pretty straight forward: you start by basically laying on your side, you place the roller at the top of your hip, and then you “roll” across it. M’s suggestion was always to keep your core zipped up, and use your arms to help move your leg across the roller. An advanced move is to extend both legs, but I usually only extend one (the other is just there on the floor for balance). The process is usually pretty painful, but in the end, it pays off (no pain, no gain, right?).
Yesterday, after my 3 mile run, I thought I was feeling the need for some foam roller action. It was a particularly hilly run, and I hadn’t really run hills in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I had also forgotten that, when I went climbing the previous night, I bruised a spot near my I.T. band. I accidentally foam-rolled a bruise! Sigh…sometimes the best efforts are just that.