My New Best Friend

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My new best friend is a rolling pin, and I’m not even making a pie. In fact, I’m not doing any baking at all. I had my first PT appointment for the posterior tibial tendinitis this afternoon, and it was suggested that I repurpose a rolling pin to loosen up the muscles and fascia in my calves so that the posterior tibial tendon isn’t being constantly pulled on by the muscles above it.

I cannot believe that a) this actually works and b) it’s actually a thing. You can google “rolling pin massage” and find a bunch of videos of people doing this exact thing.

It works so well that after I rolled out my legs, I was able to stand on one foot, walk up and down stairs and all around my house, and squat down to the floor while keeping my heels on the floor with no pain. It’s been months since I could do any of those things. I am amazed at the difference this simple technique could make in just one day.

I had actually tried rolling out the calves before using my foam roller but it just couldn’t get in and release the right areas. But the rolling pin seems to be able to do the trick. Who knew they were good for more than just making pastry?

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My Foam Rolling Injury

Seriously – who injures themselves with a foam roller?

Apparently, I do. So as a public service I thought I’d give my two cents on the latest cure-all panacea to hit the fitness world – the foam roller.

I had heard great things about how it can help relieve sore muscles and loosen tight IT bands. Many people seemed to love it, so as a birthday present I gave one to my husband. I figured he could use it after his sometime runs, to loosen up his chronically tight hamstrings.

Of course, after he opened it and before he ever used it, I thought I should give it a “roll,” so as to be able to give advice. Seemed pretty straightforward and I’d seen them used plenty of times at the gym. What could go wrong?

So I rolled away. Up and down and back and forth across my calves and hamstrings and IT band and everywhere that was stiff and tight. Then I rolled it over my lower back.

Apparently, you should use the foam roller only on soft tissue. You should avoid bony protuberances, such as the sacrum and tailbone area. I discovered this for myself when I felt a sudden pain rolling over that area. Not sure what went wrong exactly but I can tell you that it immediately began to feel bad, and over the course of the next few days, went from bad to worse.

I asked around and the only thing I could figure out as to what happened was that maybe I had a bulging disk that I inadvertently rolled over and aggravated it. It’s odd, because I don’t typically get a lot of lower back pain but this was pretty doggone uncomfortable – every morning for about 2 weeks I woke up bent over and it would take 15 minutes and an ibuprofen for the discomfort to die down enough to go about my business. It hurt bad enough I had to back off running just as I was starting to get back to it after hurting my hip. But then it resolved and I was back to normal (whatever that is when you’re 40-some years old).

So that is my experience with the foam roller. I still use it occasionally but I’m definitely more careful with it now and would recommend doing what I didn’t do – read the instructions or have someone knowledgeable show you the best way to use it.