Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Foam Roller to the Rescue

Y'all know I was having some knee trouble, right? Every since I ran my half marathon, I had some pretty regular discomfort behind my right knee - sometimes in the calf, sometimes in my hamstring, but always behind the knee. No big deal, I thought, I'll just keep doing my yoga and I'll stretch it out and heal it, right? Wrong.

Since high school I've had undiagnosed hip and leg pain. I even saw a doctor for it once, but because we couldn't figure out where the source of the pain was, they didn't even know where to look. I ended up working with my chiropractor aunt on stretches and things I could do at home to prevent and alleviate.
Then when I started doing yoga all the time, I stopped noticing leg pain. I never even knew what stretches were helping - only that I was active, doing yoga, and not hurting anymore.

Then my shiny new injury limited the amount and depth of the stretching I could do. Normal stretches I used to relieve and pain in my hips, legs and low back, I couldn't get into all the way because of my knee.

Now lets rewind a little bit again... (imagine rewind sound effects)

I'm a P90X fan. I've done both P90X and X2, and while I was doing X2, I invested in a little gadget called a foam roller. This is the one I bought (because they're majorly overpriced and I didn't want pay $40 for a piece of foam). I mostly used it to roll out my calves and middle back. Since I was so active with my regular yoga and stretching, I didn't feel like I needed it much.

Then this weekend at the gym, about halfway through cardio Sunday, I had an epiphany (or an 'apostrophe' for any fellow Hook lovers out there). Maybe I can work out this leg pain with a foam roller. So, I grabbed a mat and a roller (the gym has nicer ones than I have) and ducked into the empty workout studio.

I immediately went for my IT band. I didn't know for sure that it was the source of my pain, but it's helpful to give all your muscles a little foam roller love sometimes, so I went for it, and almost immediately I knew I was working the right place. I stayed on it for a good 10 minutes - finding points and letting the foam roller work its magic, essentially using my body weight against the roller to work out tension.

Later that night, sitting on the couch I noticed the lack of nagging discomfort in my right leg. Then just for the heck of it, I straightened my leg and grabbed my foot... just to see if I could, and I was astonished to find I had almost COMPLETE mobility back in my right leg. It's not all the way back to normal, but can I just say "Hallelujah Foam Roller!"? I am elated.

Foam rolling can be very uncomfortable. Let's just get that out of the way. You're finding tense points that need to be worked out hard. It's the equivalent of having a knot in your back and asking your friend to dig their elbow in there. The difference is that the foam roller wont slide out of place and elbow you in the rib. That's how you know you're working the right place - when you have to grit your teeth until the pain goes away. Ultimately, it should feel good though, so listen to your body and know your limits.

Have you ever tried foam rolling? Do you love it or hate it? :)

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