Roll, Roll, Roll Your Thigh…

Some days it feels like my body is falling apart.

I think the aches and pains, at least the ones on my lower body, are probably all connected.  “Your toe bone connected to your foot bone, your foot bone connected to your ankle bone, your ankle bone connected to your leg bone…”

It all started with my little itty bitty calf strain.  (Darn elliptical, how I miss you.)  Who knew that the calf muscle runs up the back of the leg behind the knee?  Not me.  (Wait – is it “not I?”)  And down behind the ankle.  Ah, yes, it’s all connected.

Even though my injury is very minor, I feel it.  And because I feel it, I think I am compensating for it, unconsciously, when I walk.  And even thought I’ve given up cardio for now, there is no way to totally give up walking.

So… now I have a new ache.  Based on input from my trainer and my internet research, it seems that I have aggravated my IT (iliotibial) band high up on my thigh.  Makes me feel wimpy when I read that most IT band injuries come from running or active aerobic activity.  Running?!  Aerobic activity?!  I wish!

The ilotibial band is a band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh, starting at the hip and continuing to the outside edge of the shin just below the knee.

My trainer showed me how to stretch out my IT band with a foam roller.  And we just happen to have one at home already because my husband has been rolling various body parts for ages!  (I guess that’s an advantage of being a former athlete: knowledge about stuff like this.)

My first rolling attempt was at the gym, under my trainer’s “supervision.”  I’m sure I looked as awkward as I felt, trying to get down on that thing, stay propped up where I was supposed to be propped up, trying to move my body a certain way that I wasn’t used to moving.  I had no idea what to expect.  Pain!  That’s what I should have expected.  Because when I hit “the right spot” – ouch, I knew it.  Hubby tells me that it will hurt less over time as I stretch things out.  I’m choosing to believe him:)

I am not very good about stretching.  Sure, after a workout I pay brief homage to all my exercised body parts with rudimentary stretches, held for just long enough.  (I’ve had a torn muscle before; I know the drill.)  But, just like so many other things that I know are good for me (including moisturizing after the shower and using anti-aging cream before bed and eating veggies), doing more than the minimum falls by the wayside.  I don’t like to stretch.  It’s boring.  It takes time.  And effort.  I’m inflexible.  Heck, I’m doing yoga!  That should count for something!

Note to self:  stretch more.  Note to self:  get on that foam roller and roll!  Note to calf:  heal already!

Have you used a foam roller?  What things do you NOT do as much as you know you should?  Or neglect entirely?!

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55 Comments

Filed under body and/or body image, exercise

55 responses to “Roll, Roll, Roll Your Thigh…

  1. Karen, I find foam rollers INCREDIBLY painful – which I guess means they are working!

    Actually I’ve just bought myself some massage balls – you know the sort you roll on (similar thing to foam roller) so I’m going to be squelching about on one of my glutes in front of the TV tonight.

    I hope your calf heals soon!

    PS. I’m bad at stretching as well. Like you I do it after exercise – usually as part of my warm down, but am TERRIBLE at doing stretches or exercises given to me by massage therapists or physios etc.

    Deb

    • I started to type a “my husband has a little green ball” and that just didn’t sound right! When I go the the spa every other year I always take stretching classes and have a renewed intent to put it into practice at home. And never do.

  2. I am a bad stretcher too! I should know better I used to teach aerobics! After my workout I just get busy doing other things. My husband is really good though, at night before bed he will sit on our bedroom floor and stretch for a good 20 minutes. I guess I could join him huh?

  3. Miz

    I did not stretch or foam roll for 41 years.
    now I stretch daily and roll so often I own TWO 🙂
    one upstairs and one down.

    oh
    and did I mention I mocked the rollers initially as a bunch of HOOEY?
    who KNEWY I needed the HOOEY?! 🙂

  4. Miz

    **squints to see if her comment took?**

  5. Ewa

    One of these days I will finally get one of those foam rollers but probably not today (busy). Maybe tomorrow… – how it is with me?
    I am not a very good stretcher either. I think it’s time to reform.
    ???You miss the elliptical??? 🙂

  6. I’ve seen those things and know people love them, but I haven’t tried them myself. It seems as though it would hurt like you said. What’s the good in that? Have a wonderful day!

  7. Foam roller is my best friend now! It hurts really bad & sometimes I wonder if I really need to but I it does really help with recovery, injuries, and muscle balance.

  8. Last year’s gym had foam rollers, and I used them a couple of times just for kicks and giggles. Hope I never have to use them for therapy!

    Feel better soon!

  9. I’ve never done any of this although because of my martial arts I have stretched for years. Maybe I need to start rolling 🙂

  10. I have a foam roller and you are right! OUCH for the IT band stretch. I cannot tolerate it. It feels good on my back- but I don’t really need it there. I hope your aches and pains are gone soon! I know the frustration of not being able to do cardio!!!

  11. Nope, not a user of anything like that and based on your post, I think I’m glad. But the part of this I can truly identify with is the ever increasing aches and pains in joints/muscles I didn’t know I had.

    • Oh you should have heard me at the gym yesterday! I had to change my grip on a tricep exercise because it hurt my elbow; another exercise made my shoulders click, and, of course, I’m still modifying for my leg! And this week I have an achy thumb of all things. Yikes.

  12. Yikes, IT band problems to go along with your calf injury. Well, keep up with the roller and I’m sure you’ll be back on the elliptical asap.

    When I was running, I used the foam roller to help stretch out the IT band. Considering my current shape, it would be difficult to use it now… I should probably stretch more. I’ve lost all my flexibility. Ho hum.

    I hope your injuries heal soon. Such a pain…

  13. I’ve never used anything like this. I’m not a runner and never will be at my age. I realize I could also injure myself with walking though, so it’s good to know something like this is available. 🙂

  14. Now I have that song in my head…and I think we need to get together and sing in a “round.” Remember that? And I love how “painfully” has the same number of syllables as “merrily.”

    On that note, I am sorry you’re hurting and I also very much relate to doing the minimum (both stretching and after-shower moisturizing, etc.). But I try, and yes, I have a foam roller, which I use on an off. I actually know a woman who does massage and she loves the foam roller and sometimes gives whole classes on how to use it!

  15. All I can say, “ouch”. Much sympathy for your continuing injury. One of my daughters (who runs marathons) just had to start using some kind of roller for an injury that sounds similar to yours. She has a really high pain tolerance and said it brought tears to her eyes, so I know I’d be a mess if I had to use it.

  16. Love the pic!!!

    My old trainer used to make me use the foam roller! It was fun!!! I love stretching.

  17. I have a red foam roller, too. But it has a bunch of tiny holes in it where it was repeatedly stabbed by a pencil. Yes. It was the kids.

    I hope your boo-boos get better fast! xo

  18. KC

    The couple times I went to a trainer he told me how to use the foam roller but didn’t show me so I felt like a complete moron and have just stayed away from them since. I count yoga as my stretches.

    Hope you get back to the elliptical soon.

  19. Last week I wrote about my love hate relationship with my foam roller! It is definitely one of those “good for you” but definitely not “feel good” activities.

    I know it hurts more when I don’t do it, and it feels so much better AFTER I’m done.

    So sorry you have a nagging injury. Hopefully rest and the evil roller will help you get back out there.

  20. I love my foam roller. It’s one of the best things I ever bought as a runner. Mine is super dense and hurts like hell but feels so great afterward!

  21. Ouch! That sounds so painful Karen. I was talking with my elderly neighbor and he was telling me all about his aches and pains and he said there is nothing “golden” about aging!

    Hope you are healed soon and back to your regular exercise routine.

  22. UGH Karen! You probably know that I know about this all too well! When my feet went south & I did not stop before my Hoka shoes, I was overcompensating & messed up everything including the IT band. Me, I know how it is all connected so I have no excuse & I just did not want to stop exercising.

    I have that RumbleRoller I wrote about that I love. I also have the foam roller too but for me, I like the RumbleRoller better – just works me better but I know it may be too much for some.

    I stretch a lot – I have always but way more with age cause I so what age did to my flexibility. Got to do it or age will take ya down! 😉

    HUGE HUGS Karen!

  23. I HATE THAT THING! Except I love it, even though it hurts like you know what. Because it really works! Ouch…hope your calf feels better soon!

  24. I’ve never even seen a foam roller before! I wouldn’t mind trying it though, I’ll have to check if my gym has any!

    Hope your aches and pains go away soon!

  25. Just got my foam roller last Friday. Didn’t like it much at all on Friday, but as early as Saturday, second use, I was already starting to see a difference. So I’m going to continue using it. My problem is in the glutes area as well as the thigh.

  26. I am not a fan of stretching – especially when I am not in pain which is when I SHOULD be stretching (you too).

    I have scoliosis which screws things up, plus a very ticky psoas which connects to everything that holds you together. Your plastic wrap as my PT said. My mind glazed over when she talked, but it really went to sleep when she said I had to stretch 3 times per day and especially after walking. Humbug.

    I would rather whine. SO much easier and satisfying.

    I have rolled the stuffing out of my roller. Now it is almost as flat as my drooly old pillow I won’t toss.

    TMI? Nevah!

    Hope the stretching works. What are you doing for the calf? Hubby should massage it (he can combine it with after shower moisturizing for you). See how I did not go dirty there? It took all the won’t power I had.

    Now I am spent.

    • Well, speaking of massages… I thought maybe I should treat myself and get all these things professionally rubbed, but I then imagine going in and having to explain all my problem areas!

  27. There are these cool things you can put on your legs, and it’ll roll and massage you, I did it years ago when I had surgery, it was painful but felt good at the same time.

    haha nice picture 😉

  28. Can I give you some unsolicited advice – just don’t roll on it – very painful and a muscle in pain is one that will spasm and just say “no” to what you’re dishing out. Better to pick a tight spot and apply gentle pressure and hold it for two to three minutes – ie put yourself on the roller but 75% of weight and hold the stretch rather than roll it out. 🙂

  29. I always just LOVE seeing your beautiful face, Karen. You look like the picture perfect model for that foam roller! lol
    I have something wonky going on with the back of my left thigh, and I have no idea what happened. I just went to yoga one day and bent over to forward fold and OUCH. It’s been bothering me for weeks. Getting older is definitely no fun but I’m determined to squeeze out whatever youth I have left!

  30. The foam roller is painful but it’s so necessary. I inevitably get injured if I ignore it for too long 🙂

  31. I look like such a total fool on the roller. It is much easier for me to stay in one place – the place it hurts – than to try to cover a whole muscle. I honestly only use the dang thing when my trainer makes me.

    It makes me feel less skeptical about the benefits knowing that your husband has used one for a long time.

    Hope it helps you heal faster.

  32. I must admit, I am not as diligent about stretching as I should be…not at the gym anyway. I do stretch – twice – every single day. However, I stretch in the morning before I leave my bedroom and right before bed – also in my bedroom. I know I should be stretching more at the gym before and after working out, but I feel like I am already stretching enough. My trainer has another idea – making me stretch with her – at least before our time together and then *strongly* recommending it afterward. I know I should get better at doing that – in hopes of avoiding any further injuries. 🙂

    Hope that calf starts feeling better – SOON!

    -Erica

    • I’m impressed you do it at home twice a day! Good for you. I have read that “they” no longer think it is necessary to stretch before a workout like they used to, only after. That would save you some time at the gym:) I think the after is key to avoid potential injuries.

  33. I DO have a foam roller from my physical therapist who has me put my tailbone at one end and then lie back to my neck ends up at the other end. I can literally feel my spine settle into it – crooked as it is. I put my arms out to the side and just lie there for 10 minutes. Voila – my spine straightens into it. I actually do it for tightness in my neck (sitting too long at a computer). It pulls everything back. It feels so good when I’m done. Always hurts a little when I first get onto it. And I’m bad about remembering to do this as maintenance – I wait till my neck really hurts before I remember. WHY???

    • I actually tried a similar pose last night! I had forgotten that when I did physical therapy for my shoulder a couple of years ago the therapist recommended something like that for the tightness I get from things like typing on the keyboard. My problem is our roller seems a bit short and a bit too fat for my comfort in this pose. The one I tried in the past was actually a “half” roller (which wouldn’t roll at all but you had a flat side down) so it was shorter and not as awkward for this position.

  34. I’ve learned the hard way that I need to stretch, strength train, and use a foam roller. One word of caution – don’t foam roll too much. It’s like a deep tissue massage, and you wouldn’t want one of those every day.

  35. Roz@weightingfor50

    I see people at the gym with foam rollers alot. I really need to try it myself. LOVE the interpretation of row, row, row your boat Karen. You are hilarious. Have a wonderful Wed.

  36. i find the foam roller to be so painful, when i had a trainer she would stretch me with it and i was always in pain.. but it works. can i tell you i have always wondered what an IT band was, i have heard many runners talk about it but haven’t had the chance to google it.. you learn something new every day 🙂

  37. I’ve never tried the roller; I’ve seen other bloggers review it. I hope your injury gets better soon Karen!

  38. Karen – you are so cute! Nice to see you being the reader-model with the foam roller in the photo. I’ve starting using it to stretch out after workouts and while my calves hurt less, that IT band continues to be a source of pain. But I try to make time for it most days, knowing it’s another healthy habit that does my body good. 🙂

  39. I was going to just clear my slate and keep up from now on, but I couldn’t resist your past posts. I swear you should be incorporated or something. You have such a knack for writing and titling, etc….
    How about looking for a job with a fitness magazine or something. You have real skills.
    Anyway, so funny… jsut this morning, I tripped over my own pajamas (as I was wearing them) and strained my already strained ankle. Then I got up from the couch and my knee felt funky. I had that moment of …old, I’m so old…
    I love that you’re taking advice and doing the stretch. WE have to do that.
    This achilles tendon thing of mine has been going on for so long now. I just thought of going to have it worked on, but I haven’t been doing anything my therapist told me to do. I’m supposed to be doing the castor oil at night and stretching it out, especially before working out.
    You’re inspiring me. I think I’ll take Munchberrry’s 30 days thing adn take care of this one thing for 30 days.
    I love the photo of you on that roll.

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