Tag Archives: helpful

Foam Rolling: My 2 Cents

Many of my long term readers know I’m a massage therapist. Occasionally, I do write about things related to my job. This is one such instance. Today I found myself foam rollering, AGAIN, in my office, and decided it was time to give my 2 cents to help any readers interested. This post is information I regularly share with my clients verbally, and I’m offering to others in need.

First I had to convert my space. My last office had carpeted floors, so I just moved the table over and did my mat work, be it roller or yoga. My current office looks like this:

It’s a concrete floor with lineoleum tiles, and a small area rug for client’s feet. Not exactly kind to knees or elbows. So to adjust, I now do this:

Not only do I move the table over, I put a towel over the rug and a yoga mat over that. It’s much kinder to the joints.

My point here is that before you even begin to attempt foam rollering, you must think of the space you need and the level of comfort your joints want. Considering your own needs first ensures that you not only maximize benefits, but you’re more likely to make it a consistent helpful tool.

2nd is the tool: the foam rollers.

The set I bought for my office came from a store called ‘Five Below’ and both were exactly $5. The set I bought for home was sourced multiple places over time, but none was more than $7. At the office I have the two rolls pictured next. The set for home is 3 rollers: one is very similar to this black one but has mild texture, one is the same size roller with large nubbies that is fairly firm, and the third is another of the turquoise one.

The large roller that is less firm is always your best starting place. It is a dense foam, but will give some with your body weight. It will produce less ouch and is very beneficial if you are very tight, constricted, or it is your first time using a roller.

The one I have at home (same size but with large nubbies) is a slightly more dense foam. It is a great next step because it still gives a nice broad pressure, but the firmness enables a bit deeper pressure. It is great for really getting deep pressure in broad muscles.

The turquoise one is a truly deep tissue roller, and that is why I have one for home and office. It is smaller so it can effectively work into spaces that the other rollers are too big for. It is also firm enough that it will effectively sink through large layers of muscles to get deeper than the other rollers can. It definitely has it’s place and is very helpful, but will produce ouch moments. I have a well-validated high pain-tolerance level according to several other professionals, and the turquoise roller still causes me to swear on occasion. Be aware, you can injure yourself with this roller if you are too aggressive with the movements or if you place the roller in an unsafe position/location. Just be more cautious when you use a roller like this.

Now for the tips:

First, I need you to understand that foam rollers are a tool that is intended to mimic a deep tissue massage. It mimics the same pressure sensation as an elbow and forearm moving through your muscles. So, the same tips that apply to my job, apply to using these.

1) Broader is better.

Broad pressure helps diffuse the sensations, spreading them out through the muscles, and will disarm both the pain response and the tickle response. There is a window of tightness in muscles that causes them to feel tickelish, broad pressure will help reduce the sensation of tickeling.

2) Slower is better. & 3) Work as many directions as possible.

Foam rollering is a focused deep stretch of a muscle or a few muscles. For instance, instead of stretching your entire leg, you can focus on just your outer hamstring. However, because you are stretching one muscle or a small cluster, you will be activating and engaging the fascia.

Fascia is a thin envelope of connective tissue that helps everything in your body stay in it’s rightful place, but in doing it’s job sometimes it too can get bound up, and massage therapists reference this as adhesions. Adhesions can prevent the muscle from moving properly even if the muscle itself has become more pliable. Additionally, fascia often collects these adhesions directionally, so they need to be addressed in multiple directions. The easiest way to determine which directions are still holding adhesions is to apply circular rubbing motions to the area you are working on. If it is completely stretched free you should be able to rub smooth circles clockwise or counter clockwise. Any remaining adhesions will cause a catch sensation that prevents the smooth circular pattern.

Furthermore, the fascia tends to respond very slowly to external input. I can attest to this. In school, I was trained that any movement less than 10 seconds will not engage the fascia properly. We were instructed to stretch the muscles painfully slowly to ensure that the fascia would engage and drop tension. After having practiced massage for almost 13 years, I often will spend a minute or more on one stretch to ensure I am effectively loosening the fascia as well.

So, even though foam rollering can engage the fascia more readily, it takes focused multi-directional slow movements to truly relax the fascia itself. To fully relax any one area you may have to do several stretches in different directions, and each approximately a minute in duration.

4) More Frequently = Less Work to Do

In an ideal world everyone would get a massage weekly. We don’t live in an ideal world, so it becomes up to you to take care of yourself in-between whatever shedule you can manage for paid massages. However, the more frequently you care for yourself and your muscles, the less work you will have to do on each attempt. You may find that when you start foam rollering it takes you several days to fully work everything out. Start with your worst areas, and each time you roller move on to the next worst. As you build repetition, each round of head to toe, will gradually become less time consuming because you are addressing concerns more frequently. Eventually, you may find that you really can spend 60-90 minutes weekly and solve all your concerns. This will in turn help prevent long-term RSI and joint damage, which is good for everyone.

Tricks:

So, I have covered all the important points to note about foam rollering, now let’s discuss common concerns or things people have trouble with.

YouTube is an excellent resource for finding videos showing ways to foam roller a wide array of ways. Just remember my tips from above, some of the fitness gurus tend to roll far faster than I would recommend based on my knowledge of fascia. Faster rolling will still stretch muscles, but may not give you the full relief you seek.

Moving on, one of the biggest concerns clients of mine have is lower leg, otherwise known in common terms as the calf. Many people find that they have recurring difficulty with calf-cramps. Sometimes this is a key sign of magnesium deficiency, and sometimes it is simply because they are not being stretched fully or frequently enough. I have had many clients express frustrations over attempting to roll them, so I decided to take some pictures to show options for addressing those concerns. Each caption will provide a description of what I’m conveying.

The front of the lower leg tends to be very sensitive because it carries so much tension, so it is best to start there. The best way to roll the front of the lower leg is to place both ankles on the roll and engage your core to put your full body weight into balancing and rolling up to the knee.
To get the front outside angle of the lower leg, essentially you place that stretch of your leg on the roller and sit on your foot. Then balance and roll the foam from knee to ankle and back.

The next area of common concer is quads and hamstrings or upper leg. I have many people that roll out and still deal with knee pain or sciatica. So here are tips from the knee to hips and beyond.

Finally, you know where you are tight. It’s all those aches and pains and stiff spots. If you touch a muscle and it feels like a brick or ball under your skin, then it’s tight. Foam rollering can literally address every tight spot from shoulders to feet. This is just a start, and it has amazing benefits if you utilize it regularly. May you find excitement and all the benefits in loosening your body up.

This was a fairly long post, but I hope it helps anyone interested in caring for themselves better. If you have any questions or concerns you are always welcome to email me.

May you have solid self-care and feel better physically. May you know you are doing everything possible to ensure a healthy body. May you know you are strong and flexible and all of your efforts help you live your best life. May you know that God always loves and supports you in all that you do.

Om Shanti

Watch “PAWS FOR THOUGHT (Thanksgiving Special)” on YouTube

Thank you Simon Tofield. An excellent reminder.

May we all see what we can do for others. May we all find ways to be as helpful as possible. May we realize that our blessings might seem small to us, but massively meaningful to another. May we have kindness to recognize all of it and share what we can.

Om Shanti

Multifidus 2

More tangents of my world, support and aligned functionality.

First, I’m utterly grateful to have been able to help my friend with a systemic MRSA infection. Her last update explained it would be quite a while until she could function normally again, having affected her ability to stand, walk or use her dominant arm, and included a plea for help. I was able to obtain a wheelchair for her for $60 and dropped it off at the hospital between my clinic and retirement community shifts. She now has both a walker and a wheelchair, but she is going to need financial support. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, she’s in for 6 weeks hospital stay, with rehab afterwards. She was evicted from her apartment due to a combination of Covid closures affecting her income and then being hospitalized on top of it. Friends packed her belongings and stored them, took her pet to care for it, and we’re all pooling resources to the best of our ability, but if you can help it is very much welcomed. Please see the screenshot below for more info.

As for me, I have had an interesting week. Post strep throat I have not been eating during the day at all. Not out of avoidance, simply because I don’t feel the need to. I have a strong sense that like Covid helped the Earth find some healing by keeping us home, my body is finding additional healing by eliminating the desire to eat and thus keeping my digestive tract mostly clear for now. Today it has amplified to a wonderfully intense level. I feel spectacular and my body is really high energy, almost like having one cup of coffee too many, but as I said I’ve not had anything. I’ve literally only had water, a breakfast shake and my supplements today. I feel great and I simply know that I have everything I need in my body already, so much so that it is almost a mantra for me today. I find that I’m am experiencing immense gratitude for feeling a strong sense of healing and well being. I am feeling stronger and healthier everyday, and I had one of my license plate messages that I read as validation of my wellness…W3L UET.

Speaking of my ET, I had one of my dream visits early this morning. It was wonderful and may definitely have contributed to my high energy today. It was a very loving passionate dream, and I am glad that I am having those again. It renews my hope for my future poly family. I love being loved on and those dreams leave me feeling warm and fuzzy for hours. There is also a fair amount of excitement that is left behind in its wake.

I am also feeling appreciation for my self in terms of knowledge and experience. What was triggered by the PA and picked at by a couple of other interactions, leaves me wishing to write a PSA. Here’s the deal, just because you paid for a college degree that left you with a PhD in a specific area of study does not mean you are smarter than others. I have a Bachelor’s degree, plus a year of massage education. If it had been one topic at one school I would be holding a Master’s degree. Beyond that I have hands on experience in both: 2 years in graphic design and 12 years as a massage therapist, 8 of which were self-employed contracting work. I have experience in my own business and others. Beyond that I have been schooled in the hard-knocks of life. I understand diabetes, heart disease, and thyroid function, and pregnancy through levels of direct experience and conversing with multiple medical professionals, some of which are/were definitely more open than others. I have both book knowledge and real life practical application knowledge in multiple areas and multiple sub-topics. I find it quite insulting when someone with “more important letters” behind their name acts like I’m some dummy that doesn’t know what I’m talking about. If I have experience on something I give it, if not I am open to respectful input and do consider others as my equal. But because of such experience I can also tell when someone is doing their best to take the easy way out or avoid dealing with me, and that is simply not acceptable to me, not should it be for anyone. We all need to acknowledge that we all are human beings with a wide array of knowledge and experience and respect each other’s input and do our level best to contribute to each other’s lives in positive ways, whatever that translates into at the moment of interaction. If we did that, the world would be a better place and fewer and fewer of us would be finding frustration in seeking solutions.

I also have taken all of these moments and used them as fodder for focused meditation. My Atira, my vortex, it is becoming clearer and clearer. I can see where my sloppy focus previously allowed for misaligned moments and the failures in my manifestations. At one point I was thinking about my 3 people in my permanent energetic-heart-circle awareness, and slipped into old negative thoughts about them. This time though I caught myself nearly immediately. I literally thought ‘wait a minute, those don’t feel good, that means they aren’t right’. That simple acknowledgement was enough to flip to the opposite thoughts that do feel good. I did a happy dance just for catching myself and a second happy dance for finding what does feel good. I look forward to much better manifestations as a result.

I then applied that moment of positive momentum to the rest of my topics, and that might be why I feel so darn good today. Between giving my digestion a break, acknowledgement of myself and my skills/knowledge- that we’re all equals, and positive thoughts and massive realignment all put together just feels like an amazing combination. I feel “right as rain” and have a strong knowing at the moment that there is no spoon. My only falter is that my spoon takes longer to bend, but that’s an okay thing.

May you feel your way to better days. May you honor other’s skills and knowledge knowing that you also have applicable skills and knowledge. May you find many things to feel grateful for and appreciate. May you see there is no spoon and that shifts in awareness and healing will manifest your desires quick enough. May you be health and have all of the help and resources that you need. May you have moments of appreciation that you are able to help others because you can and you want to. May you have excitingly pleasant dreams and be healthy in mind body and spirit. May you know you are having breakthroughs that will lead to wonderful changes in your physical awareness. May everything be “right as rain” and may you know God loves and supports you.

Siva Hir Su