Thursday, October 4, 2012

Get a Foam Roller

Since I started training for St. Jude's half marathon, I've been foam rolling. I've talked about it a lot, but I realize some of you have no idea what I mean by that. So today is the day I share some information.

As much as I complain about it, foam rolling is clearly brilliant for quick muscle recovery. And I can tell a huge difference since I started using it.

What does it look like?
It's a cylinder-shaped piece of foam. It's not soft foam, but it's not hard like a brick. It has a little give to it, but not much.

What do you do with it?
You roll your legs and back on it. It's a very awkward process. And after long runs or not using it for a few days, it will hurt you.

Here's the thing. When you run, your body builds up toxins that are stored in your muscles. Over time, the toxins form knots in your muscles. You can't really feel the knots, but you know they are there because of muscle tightness.

Think of the foam roller as you own personal masseuse. By applying pressure to different muscle groups and rolling them on the foam roller, you can elongate your muscles and break up the knots and toxins in your body.

It is crazy how good it hurts. The first time I did it (the right way), I cussed like a sailor. My calf muscles felt like solid rocks, and rolling down my quads took my breath away.

But as bad as it hurt doing it, I felt like a million bucks the next day. Seriously, nothing hurt. No aches and pains. No muscle stiffness. It was crazy. I knew I was on to something.

So I decided to dedicate 30 minutes or so a day to foam rolling. And at first it wasn't pretty. I looked like a fish flopping around on the floor, and I'm pretty sure if my neighbors heard me they would have thought I had Tourette Syndrome because of the random outburts of cuss words. (BTW---they moved out right after I started using it on a regular basis....Coincidence? Maybe.)

After running Asher's 5K, I was too lazy to foam roll, even though my legs felt tight during the entire run. And I didn't foam roll Sunday. Or Monday.

So I did 3.7 miles of speed work yesterday, and I knew my date with the foam roller wouldn't be fun. And guess what? I was right. My calves were back to feeling like rocks, and rolling over my quads almost made me cry.

Bottom line: If you are a runner, you need a foam roller. Especially if you run long distances and high mileage. Elongating tight muscles will help prevent injury. And once you get through the first couple of rounds, foam rolling becomes less of a self-tourture fest.

I realize foam rolling doesn't sound all that great, but I promise your legs and back will thank you. I am completely amazed at how much better I feel, and I would dare to say it's changed my running life.

Here is the pin I used to teach myself how to foam roll.  Thank you Pinterest!

Now go foam roll and report back.

1 comment:

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