You think zombies are scary? Monsters? Itsy bitsy spiders? You ain't seen nothin' yet. Just wait until I introduce you to...
The Blue Foam Torture Roller of Death!
A few weeks ago, my knee started hurting me a bit while I was running. It was persistent enough that I consulted Dr. Google. A couple of websites came through for me by explaining that my IT band (along the side of my thigh) needed stretching.
I started the stretches, and they very quickly helped. But a personal trainer friend also suggested to me that I get a foam roller, to help my tight muscles relax. I purchased one, and followed online instructions, thinking, "This isn't too bad."
Then I saw my friend, and she gave me a tutorial on how the foam roller is really supposed to be used, not only on the IT band, but on my quad muscles.
Now, a foam roller is used to loosen up firm, hard-working muscles. "Kind of like a massage," you may be thinking. Well...sort of. If sitting in a bubbly jacuzzi is like being massaged by a smiling, gentle massage therapist; then using a foam roller is like going to a massage therapist who also happens to be an ultra-strong sadist who gets his thrills by using his elbows to grind your muscles into submission.
The first three times I used the foam roller, I almost cried. I had flashbacks of my unmedicated labor with Zoodle. (That isn't a joke.) I would have quit in fear, but my friend had assured me that it's supposed to hurt when you start using it. I tried my best not to curse her as I used this seemingly innocuous tool to soften my stiff muscles.
And then something amazing happened. Wednesday I lay on the floor with my new blue enemy, and started to use it...and it only hurt a little. Thursday I got up to do my run, and my IT band didn't even feel stiff.
So the Blue Foam Torture Roller of Death has been demoted to the Blue Foam Slightly Painful Roller of Hope.
If you ever get sore when you run or work out, get a foam roller. It will become your friend. After you spend a few days cursing it as you've never before cursed an inanimate object, that is.
Update, 10/23/10: The foam roller has ended up being one of my most helpful tools as a runner. I love it! I now have a roller with foam that won't break down--the Grid roller from Trigger Point Therapy. I'm also learning about other ways to find and massage those "trigger points" that cause pain, through a great book called The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. I highly recommend this book if you are suffering from pain, whether it's sports-related or otherwise.