I was introduced to the foam roller about a year ago when I bought one at the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. No, I’m not a participant, I hand out bratwurst at the end! But, I heard so much about foam rollers and how awesome they are that I bought one. My husband had been using one with his physical therapist and said it was quite painful but, seriously, how painful can it be to roll on a piece of foam?
How painful? The first time I tried this my options were: scream in pain, bite a hole in my lip, or quit. Yes, I quit. Why on earth would anyone willingly do this to themselves?
According to About.com:
The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system. For various reasons including disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries, the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together. This is called an adhesion and it results in restricted muscle movement. It also causes pain, soreness and reduced flexibility and range of motion.
What does this mean? Basically, these tissues are like cooked spaghetti noodles that are wrapped around your muscles, bones, etc. Like spaghetti noodles left in a pan, these tissues will stick together if not “stirred.” The foam roller helps separate the spaghetti.
Ok- now that I know that I need to have flexible connective tissue I decided to give it another shot. I made the mistake of trying it at the Y where it is socially unacceptable to scream in pain so I was forced to suck it up and grimace. Holy crap, that hurts. But the pain means this is something that I really need to do so I tried it again. I would love to say that the second rollout was better, but it wasn’t. It is also unacceptable to swear at the Y so my cursing was all internal.
I was rolling my IT band from knee to hip, perhaps rolling on my quads would be better so I switched from my side to lying on top of the roller and went from knee to hip down the front. Aaaaaaaggggghhhhhhh- all these cycling sessions have caused lots of knots in my muscles that were being untied with this f***ing roller. Ok- that sucks. Let’s try hamstrings. I sat on the roller and rolled from butt to knees. I have to admit that I cheated and used my arms to hold up some body weight but this was still fairly unpleasant.
This torture episode was a few weeks ago and I have been religiously using the roller every few days since. Yes, it has gotten much better and I can tell that it is working. It would be very easy to give up but sometimes you just have to dig deep and do it in order to improve.
I still don’t like the foam roller, but I can tolerate it and have accepted it as a part of my routine. Someday my body will thank me for putting it through this torture! I’ll share some tips and techniques tomorrow so we can all experience the fun of foam rolling!