I have a love/hate relationship with my foam roller. I hate how painful it is when I use it but love the results it provides my muscles when they are sore and tight. When I first began running long distances I kept coming across articles about foam rollers but had never tried one before. I am a horrible (and lazy) stretcher which leads to tight hamstrings and knots all over the place in my muscles. Once I learned about what the foam roller can do, I decided I should get one and try it out.
Who knew this foam cylinder could cause so much pain?
The idea behind the foam roller is to literally roll out your tight muscles and knots. It’s important to get these out because if they are neglected they can cause pain, stiffness, and long-term injuries.
Running Times has a great article that explains how to use the foam roller. Basically, you use your own body weight to apply pressure to your knots (or trigger points) to release them. It’s like a really painful massage that feels great once it’s all over. According to Running Times, you should:
- Roll back and forth across the painful or stiff area for 60 seconds.
- Spend extra time directly over the knot or trigger point itself. (Trust me, you will KNOW where the knots are located. You can feel them.)
- Roll an injured area two to three times a day. To prevent injuries, two to three times a week is recommended (I don’t do it that often, even though I should!)
- Avoid rolling over bony areas.
- Always stretch the area after foam rolling.
I broke out the foam roller tonight while watching Big Brother and asked Kevin to document the process… it wasn’t pretty!
I started with the hamstrings… my hamstrings are sooo tight. I can’t even straighten my leg all the way to stretch it most of the time.
Lifting up one leg will increase the pressure.
Then it was time to roll out the quads.
The IT band was next. This. Is. The. Worst!!!
The IT (Iliotibial) Band is made up of tough fibers that run along the outside of the thigh. I never would have known that I had so many knots in it without using the foam roller. You can truly feel the big knots inside when you roll across them.
It is so painful, especially when you stop right on the knot to apply pressure and release it.
But it’s really important to roll out your IT bands (both sides!) because if you don’t those knots can lead to ITBS (IT band syndrome) and knee injuries.
Calves are next. I skip the shins because they are too bony and it hurts a lot. I know some people roll out their shins, though.
Then I attempted to roll out my back but Kevin kept making me laugh 🙂
Whew… glad that’s over!
It truly does make a huge difference though. I know that tomorrow when I run my muscles and legs will feel so much better. Worth it!
Here’s the weekly rundown:
- Monday: 5 mile run (47:26 / 9:29 pace) + Body Pump (1 hour)
- Tuesday: 7 mile tempo run- 1 mile warm up, 5 miles @ 7:58 average pace, 1 mile cool down (Splits were 7:57, 7:56, 7:56, 8:01, 8:00)
- Wednesday: Spin class (1 hour) + Body Pump (1 hour)
- Thursday: 6 mile run (57:05 / 9:30 pace)
- Friday: Body Pump (1 hour)
- Saturday: 11 mile run (1:46:05 / 9:38 pace) – this doesn’t count our many walking breaks! Here’s a recap if you missed it.
- Sunday: Rest
Can’t believe tomorrow is August 1st! Wow!