Tag Archives: self – care

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

I deserve to feel good.

After having found the alignment through the climb my last several posts reflected, I knew I needed to milk it. The feeling place of those high vibration moments needed to do me some major good. It was time to focus on the feelings I want more of in my body and in my world.

Thinking about the joy and freedom felt in camp was a good start, but I want more.

I deserve to feel good and see results that others will also see. I deserve for my entire body to come into alignment, even blood sugars and thyroid function, all the things that doctors document. So far some of that has improved significantly and some of that seems worse. I use seems, because sometimes seeming worse is actually on your way to improvement (detoxing is a really good example of that).

I spent a long time focusing on feeling good in my body. I did my usual moving meditation to snap, crackle, and pop my joints back into alignment. I did some more moving meditation, almost like yoga, to stretch out some of my tight muscle spots. Then I was down to just a few of my extra stubborn areas. One is my right rhomboid. I have had times where other massage therapists spent 20 minutes just on that one muscle and it’s trigger points. Well on this occasion I simple rested my hand (more my finger-tips for ease in reach) on the trigger point and used several visuals to help relax it. My touch was the focus mechanism to ‘put the power there’ (that’s a rough translation of one of the Reiki symbols I use). Then once I engaged the energy in that spot I moved through more intense Reiki symbols. I visualized being She-Ra in her moments of healing (I’m going to write more on that soon). I visualized the muscle being like a pat of butter on a hot skillet. Eventually all of it put together, the muscle did give in and relax. It took a long while, it really wanted to hold on. I really had to convince it that it was off duty and didn’t have to do anything.

Then I moved on from structural elements. I felt for and visualized energy of love in and around my body. I let it start from my heart with loving myself. I thought of all the pieces of myself that I genuinely appreciate. Once I had the feeling of the vibration of self-love, I pushed it around my body mentally. Sometimes I would have to stop and focus on something about an area that could be loved. For instance, my thighs still carry much more adipose that I prefer, so I had to focus on their strength, the fact they can lift 210 pounds in addition to my body weight, the fact that they propel me everyday and everywhere I go. That enabled the love vibration to flow in those areas.

When all was said and done, I felt genuinely spectacular. The only drawback was it took what seemed forever. It was the better part of my Sunday afternoon, and though I didn’t watch the clock, I know it took a couple of hours or more.

My goal is to get to a level of health and focused thought that my process described here is more like a normal meditation. It will probably take much practice over a long while. It seems that most of my basic goals like this take about 9 to 10 months to fruition… Hmmm… I’m seeing a correlation with pregnancy. Anyway, I have noted that I do create positive changes, but it definitely takes a while, and progress still frustrates me on occasion when it’s technically there, but less than desired.

May you have good healing meditative moments. May you genuinely feel self-love. May you convey to your body that you do care for it in all the ways you know of. May your body generally cooperate with you and show you good positive results more quickly and in bigger more noticeable ways. May you know that beyond everything God loves and supports you in all that you do and are.

Om Shanti

Some rest found.

I’m doing a little better today. I took a nap when I got home and then had a good night’s sleep after a healthy dinner of salmon and green beans. I did realize that much of my aches and energetic gunk was people I worked on. I think I seriously need a day in nature to detox from everything I’m collecting from clients, young and old.

I’m just not sure how or when to accommodate that because every day that is conducive to being outside weather wise, I’ve worked or had to work. Last Sunday was the exception and I did spend time outside raking leaves, but it was our back yard, not secluded woods away from people and civilisation. The latter is what helps me detox everybody’s energetic connections and clutter.

Additionally, my magnesium absorption seems to be down despite taking a calcium supplement. I’m not sure why, but I’m definitely getting the classic leg cramps of magnesium deficiency. I told Nathan I may need to switch to a different Mag supplement for a while. Just another puzzle piece to figure out.

This morning I was greeted with several interesting notifications from the great HAL otherwise known as Google/YouTube. There was one in particular that stood out having the color trigger I mentioned a few posts ago: red, black, and white. I’ll share the link below, I liked the song, loved the cinamatography, and the message resonated. I find myself apologizing to myself all the time about not having time, just as the song said “I’m sorry I just can’t waste time.”

Perhaps that is my biggest fallacy, but every time I do waste time in the name of finding joy or comfort for myself it ends up biting me in the arse in other ways. Usually because very important, time sensitive things get forgotten by others. Everyone relies on me. It just is I suppose, another challenge to add to my list.

  • “You were not born to get it done.”
  • “You were not born to fix the world or anyone else for that matter.”
  • ‘There will always be desire, something to reach for, improvement to seek.”
  • – Abraham Hicks quotes

Anyway, perhaps you’ll like the song.

Since I’m working so hard to find some energetic lift, some improvement, I thought I would take a moment (more for myself to visualize everything, than for you as reader) to list good things about myself. I’m that person that is very critical of myself and often need to focus to remind myself there’s anything good there.

  • I’m a spectacular massage therapist.
  • I’m a decent construction worker/handy woman. Anya commented after carpet laying: “Is there anything you can’t do?”
  • I’m a mediocre psychic, but intensely accurate empath. (I feel all the emotions and body aches, but don’t always know/understand their existence, why someone feels the way they do. I miss the fine details.)
  • I’m a decent flautist and pianist, and mediocre at another 9 instruments.
  • I’m a good artist.
  • I’m an okay gardener.
  • I’m a great organizer, and housekeeper/maid.
  • I’m a good business woman, and dependable contractor.
  • I’m a great low budget interior designer (our home will look like I paid big bucks for someone to customize it, but everything was thrifted at a fraction of retail costs).
  • I’m a decent painter (house type) and excellent painter (art type).
  • I’m stronger and smarter than your average bear. (Thanks Yogi)
  • I care, about everyone, often more than they do about me.
  • I have ethics. (That has manifested several times in recent years where I removed myself because someone would have cheated on a monogamous spouse/partner. Polyamory is about open consent, not cheating.) (Also applies to client relationships, I’ll never break board ethics just because I find someone attractive- though every great once in a while I’m very tempted.)
  • I’m a great driver having literally millions of miles under my belt combining professional and personal miles.
  • I’m an okay auto mechanic having replaced: fuel filters, radiators, electronics, spark plugs, water pumps, and headlamp casings. Even having changed tires and done oil changes regularly. The only things that get me are belts (I usually get frustrated and give up on those) and anything needing an engine or whole car lift- if I don’t have the proper tools I can’t do it.
  • I’m doing okay on self-help/self-improvement as well. I haven’t eliminated depression or my temper, but I have much greater control than when I left my parent’s home. Even when I do loose control, I have a much much shorter refractory period to regaining sanity.

That’s a good list for this post. I need to categorize posts like this so it’s easier to go back and reference them when I need a boost. … I’ll add it to the bottom of my to-do list.

May you all have interestingly helpful notifications. May you all find rest and rejuvenation. May you have time in nature when you need it. May you feel better through fixing puzzle pieces. May you have ease and comfort in your experience. May you find the good in yourself. And may we all find ways to improve ourselves and our experience.

Siva Hir Su