The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can’t help feeling
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep (tissue)
Well, if there’s one thing that can leave me breathless from a combination of relief and “omg someone is legit stabbing me in the ass right now,” it would be the foam roller. I’m a recent fan of the foam roller, as I was only introduced to its magical possibilities about two years ago. If you have know idea what I’m talking about, do not fear. I, too, cast side glances at that weird cylindrical object. Mmm idk what that is… water weight? Child’s barbell? Torture device? Jane Fonda aerobic accessory? Advanced yoga block? Well, I wasn’t too far off with “torture device,” as the foam roller is one of the best ways to self-inflict what I like to call the Good Hurt. As someone who has had serious spinal issues since the age of seven (thanks gymnastic birthday party! I will literally never forget you now, since you forever destroyed my neck), I have been to countless chiropractors and masseurs trying to soothe my woes. Although this post is about foam roller, I will briefly say that the right chiropractor can do wonders for your spine and back. After some less than great experiences as a child, I found a great practice several years ago that finally got rid of the daily, splitting migraines I was getting as a result of my neck pain… so I totally support chiropracty.
Anyway, as I was saying (sorry, get used to my tangential rants), The Good Hurt is productive pain, when someone finds that spot that makes you leap a foot into the air and contort your body into spastic jerks, but don’t you dare stop until you get that knot out. One of the reasons I stopped seeing the chiropractor so frequently is that I found the best person to date for finding every disgusting knot, bump, lump, and nerve that ailed me. As the reigning master of The Good Hurt, my friend can attest that trying to work on certain spots (mainly around my traps, sub scap, and that bitch of an IT band in my glute/hip) is like trying to massage a spastic, squirming chipmunk. I may lose bodily control of my limbs, but I will take as much of The Good Hurt as I can get, because sometimes the only way to relief is a little pain. However, since that isn’t an option, the foam roller is the best, masochistic replacement for self-inflicted Good Hurt
Now, I typically use a very firm high density foam roller, and I get the best results from that. I have also attempted the PVC roller (no, not the PVC wrapped in foam described below, literal PVC piping), and found that a little too ridiculously masochistic from which to derive any benefit. Seriously, it feels like trying to foam roll with a steam roller… I am not asphalt. I started out simple: the spine roll. This is still probably my favorite foam roll move: to sit on the foam roller, recline, and roll slowly from the low back up to the neck. That first pass of the roller will be heavenly, and all the pops and crunches elicited from your spine will be grotesque music to your ears. I find the foam roller to be great for low and mid back issues, but my upper back needs more targeted, precision work (hands, Tiger Tails, etc) to get around my shoulder blades. The foam roller is also great for the booty. I know a butt massage might seem weird, but you have no idea how much tension you carry in your glutes and around your hips and pelvic bone. About two years ago, I was introduced to the wonderful world of ITBS (Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome). Not only does this affect my plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and runner’s knee, it delivers a lovely stabbing pain to my butt. My glute pain is more posterior than lateral (as shown in the picture below), but oh God, is it one of the most painful yet hard to find trigger points I possess. The foam roller is the best way to relieve IT band pain, though the sweating, squeaks of pain, and contorted faces may lead this to be a practice best performed away from startled and concerned fellow gym patrons.
Have I convinced you yet? Come on baby, make it hurt so good. Read the infographic below from Greatist to learn more about Rolling in the Deep (Tissue).