Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gear Check - Foam Roller

It's been a roller coaster of a week so far and it's only Wednesday. Sunday's Long Run put me out of commission for the rest of the day. I took Monday off to rest and tried to do lots of stretching. Monday night, I pulled out a fairly recent purchase: our foam roller.

For such a simple piece of foam, this thing can cause some serious pain... which leads to some very relaxed muscles. You just lay down on it in various (sometimes awkward) poses and roll back and forth over it. Your body weight presses down on the foam and works the kinks and stiffness out of your muscles and connective tissue. It makes you hurt in places you didn't know were tight!

I took about 5 minutes and really worked my hamstrings, butt, lower back, and IT band. It hurt like crazy, but everything felt less tense afterward.

Tuesday morning, I woke up a little stiff but seemed to loosen up pretty quickly. Most of the day, I felt pretty good but there was still some nagging pain and tension. I decided to try a light run at the gym that night to try to work out some of the stiffness.

I got to the Rec Center before Liz as usual and did some stretching and a few sit ups before getting on the treadmill. I started off slow and gradually sped up as I became more and more confident that my back wasn't going to seize up. I got in 4 good miles without any real problems. Every now and then, I would get a little 'twinge' that would throw my stride off for a step, but it was a fairly uneventful run!

Then I met Liz for a swim. It was good to get a nice, long, low-impact workout in to keep things loose. By the time we were done, I was hungry and tired.

I used the roller again last night and was feeling good about Tuesday on the whole when I went to bed. But then I had trouble sleeping because of a very focused pain in my lower back.

So, it's been very up and down. I decided to take today off just to let it rest even though yesterday was positive. Today has been pretty good and I'll go for a run again tomorrow as long as I don't get worse again.

A friend posted a link on Facebook for a special her chiropractor is having so I took it as a sign and scheduled an appointment for tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully, they'll be able to diagnose and/or treat whatever is going on.

Goal For The Day: Easy Run
Distance: 4.00 Miles.
Route: Fenton Rec Center Treadmill.
Time: 29:28. 7:22 Avg. (7:47, 7:30, 7:13, 6:58)
Conditions: Indoors = Air Conditioning!

Goal For The Day: Swim
Distance: 950 meters. (150, 200, 250, 200, 150)
Location: Fenton Rec Center Indoor Pool.

Notes: My back is feeling better overall. Lower back seems to have loosened up some. Still some pain. Not really soreness. Feeling it in my 'glutes' today. Good run yesterday. The swim was a little slow but it felt good to get in the water.

Daily Miles: Run - 4.00 Miles. Swim - 950 meters.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 160.84 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 5,400+ meters.


  1. Glad you are feeling better. I was worried.

  2. Yikes, sorry you're having such troubles. Dan, that you met last week, has been seeing a Chiropractor for shin splints and plantar faciitis and really likes it. He said sometimes it is painful but he is finally back to running after being off for two months! Also, I have the foam roller, but got a smaller roller that I use after every run, it is plastic and hand-held. It is less intense than the foam roller, so I can use it everyday. It feels like I "stretch" out better with it and my legs haven't been as sore, especially my IT band.~Erin

  3. Where can one find out how best to use a foam roller? I ran yesterday for the first time in two months after a foot injury and 'm pretty sore today. I'm not sure where I'd start after purchasing such a tool.

  4. I've seen them at Target and Dick's Sporting Goods. It comes with minimal instructions.

  5. Kurt, If you just google "foam roller exercises" or "foam roller stretches" you'll get all kinds of suggestions and youtube videos. Like Erin said, mine came with a one-sheet set of photos with suggested stretches. I've also tried the hand-held plastic rollers that Erin's talking about. They're kinda like fancy rolling pins. I passed on them because they hurt and I thought it should be a more pleasant experience to roll out my muscles. I thought foam would be more comfortable. I was wrong. It hurts because it's supposed to. I think either kind of roller works just fine.

    Glad you're back on your feet!