Foam Rolling – There’s Nothing Foamy About It

Posted: 29th September 2013 by mockjogger in Equipment, Medical
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This is not a foam roller

This is not a foam roller

Every now and again my twitter feed gets illuminated with a message from a runner just about to head off for a session with a foam roller. It always used to prompt two questions in my mind. What is a foam roller? How painful could foam rolling be? After all, it’s like foamy and you roll with it. I had visions of people rolling themselves the way I used to put paint emulsion on a wall, with a nice, soft, hairy rolling brush. I chuckled to myself safe in the knowledge that these guys were patently crazy, and smugly moved on to the next message.

Then I got a pain in the hip near the end of a normal seven mile training run. After initially denying to myself that this needed seeing too, I consulted a physio. She diagnosed ITBS and prescribed stretching exercises, ibuprofen and rolling.

THIS is a foam roller

THIS bad boy is a foam roller

I went to Run4It and, to my surprise, found a relatively large selection of rollers near the front of the store. I was not alone. Clearly I had filtered this section out during my previous visits, in my haste to salivate over red runners or something. I looked at their stock and asked for advice. Some rollers did indeed resemble the kind of device I used to use when applying emulsion paint, if a whole lot bigger. However, I figured this is an implement I am likely to use fairly regularly going forward and let the staff talk me into their best (and significantly more expensive) one – the Grid Roller made by Trigger Point, complete with massage grooves. It came to a choice of black or orange. I chose orange, as it looked more friendly.

Home I went, with Christmas-esque enthusiasm. Out went the yoga mat I use for some core exercises and down went the roller.

Sscreenshot twitter feed

So I  have a new-found respect and empathy for my twitter-buddies when they announce that they are off for a foam rolling session. Instead of chuckling, my nerves tighten in silent empathy.

Still, if it gets me back out there and keeps me running, I will build a shrine to my new orange self-torture implement.