I recently got an email from a reader asking if I use a foam roller. The answer is no. I want one, really do but the reason I don’t own one (yet) is I don’t have frequent pain anywhere else besides my legs. And whenever Fleet Feet (the local running store I shop at) has them in stock they are immediately gone because the price is so good. They retail theirs for $25, which is cheap cheap! But they are inexpensive and personal massagers. They increase blood flow to release tense knots. They are awesome! But due to my cheapness, I just use something else. Instead of using some foam, I grab my old, worn-in rolling pin. FYI I never use it anymore so no I don’t use it on my baked goods. Thats gross. Its free (score) and works just the same. Couple of things that are different is height, length, and pressure. A typical foam roller looks like this
They are 36 inches in length and pretty high, they should support you to be off the ground. Foam rolling can help sort out any knots and increase blood flow. I don’t have pain in the Gluteus Maximus or IT Band so thats the main reason I don’t own a foam roller. I only have knots in the calves right now so a rolling pin works just as well.
Thursday I had a small 3 mile run that turned into a horrific nightmare because a) my calves felt like they were about to explode b) humidity was brutal and c) my time was b-a-d. All 3 factored into a really bad run, the number one cause was my calf knots. But man, this hot icky weather came in from no where. Remember my post about my chilly run on Monday well that fall weather is now MIA. Thursday’s run left me like this:
Road kill. I couldn’t move my body to save my life. An hour later, just kidding…no seriously 20 minutes later I had crawled to get my rolling pin. The first thing I do is this to both legs:
I roll the under portion of my lower leg. I sit with opposite leg propped in a 90 degree angle and roll my leg back and forth for a minute. Switch legs and do it again 3 more times on each leg. It feels awesome.
The next part is the one that makes me cringe. My medial (inner portion on side muscle of the calf ) muscles are the most tender. To touch them makes me want to cry. This is what makes my calves feel like they are about to explode or make me scream naughty words during my run, which actually happened Thursday. Quick story, I was coming up on the last mile and almost tripped and I had my hat in hand and threw it on the side-walk. While this tantrum was going on I screamed super bad words. I stomped my feet and then noticed a mom with her baby in a running stroller. Oops. Sorry it turned into a long story. ANYWAY… the sides of my calves have the most severe knots. They really hurt my pace during my runs, and its been a bad build-up over time. I totally blame myself for not stretching as intensely as I should afterwards. They are so bad that you can not only feel them, but notice them when I flex my leg. Gross and gross. So I do this little number:
I just roll in along the natural line of my leg and do it until I can’t take it anymore. Eventually I have to apply more pressure to really get in there. The more you do it the better it feels. I can actually walk again. No more crawling on the carpet! Just kidding, I don’t do that. Normally I do it for maybe 2 minutes on each leg and stop, but if it was a terrible morning I do it until I want to cry from pain. That sounds awful and scary, but it helps in the next run. To have tight muscles hurts and it really can break your pace. Frequent walk breaks, all out stopping, whatever it takes to relieve that pain is necessary.
Hope this helps, again if you want a foam roller get one! I want one, I just am too cheap and lazy to actually purchase it. But there are plenty of videos on Runners World.com to see all the different exercises with a foam roller.
Also on Thursday it was Girls on the Run and we had a great meet. The girls ran about a mile each and it was a fun process. They got a rubber band for each lap and once they got 9 they could stop, unknowing that 7 laps was one mile! They all did a great job! I can tell this 10 weeks is going to help not only them, but me as well. They bring out a positive attitude that is contagious. I also did a fishtail braid hoping it wouldn’t make my hair go crazy and scare them. Here is a photo, and it was big hit!
Happy Friday and thanks for stopping by!