I was just talking about the Catholic Church getting into the fitness craze. While I was being a little snide, I have to admit that it’s probably a good idea to at least think about our health and how we take care of ourselves. I think a lot of us with genetic tendencies to plump up feel hopeless as we get older and we think health is something for young people! Well, that is probably wrong. We all have to care about ourselves, no matter what faith we profess, or what nationality we are, or how old we are! Each of us, to the best of our abilities absolutely has to get to be as fit as possible!
That gets us to the topic of foam rolling sort of… I was reading an article over at the NYT about the elderly. The article was talking about a doctor who devoted her career to working with older folks and it was an interesting article but I found myself hooked when I started to read the comments.
Aging sounds tough and that lesson is coming from the folks that are experts. Of course some were commenting by giving the standard lecture, you know, the one where you about take care of yourself and you’ll live a wonderfully fulfilling life and die in your sleep almost miraculously. Others were saying, hey hold on, aging has some surprises in store for some people and it isn’t like you can protect yourself from some of the traps like boom, you might get Alzheimers, or crash, you might get constant bone fractures from simple frailty. No matter how healthy you are, age might just get you!
So, what is foam rolling and how is that connected in any way with aging?
Aha! Well, you see, there are a lot of people who are older who have gotten to talk with physical therapists! And they have learned something that the rest of us might not have learned yet and that is that massage is really helpful to the body!
I hear you saying “okay, massage is helpful and older people as a group probably have talked to more therapists than their younger counterparts, but what is foam rolling?”
Well, foam rolling is a technique that uses foam noodle like things to release or ‘self massage’ the myofascial tissue of the body!
The only tough part about doing the foam rolling is that you need to have some upper body strength in order to do it. Imagine a foam roller about 36 inches long and 6 inches in diameter on the floor. Now imagine you lean on the roller sideways with your hip resting on it. Now roll your body over it while it’s on the floor and any “knot” or pressure point that you feel you hesitate in that place for about 60 seconds or so to relieve the knot of tension. In this way you are helping your muscles to stay strong and supple.
When I looked into this I found that those knots can keep coming back and unless you work on them specifically and not the healthy muscle around them they can cause a lot of debilitating pain.
Now I bet you are saying, okay that sounds reasonable, it’s like giving yourself a deep massage and you can do it on your legs, or on your upper, mid, or lower back, but what if you don’t have a foam roller? What then?
Well, you could use a large can of tomatoes but it wouldn’t be as forgiving. You could swath a gift wrap tube in a couple of bath towels and tie them or rubber band them into place. Or you could buy a pool noodle and do the same thing with the added toweling. I guess you could dump a bunch of tennis balls into a pillow case and use that to massage pressure points.
Now I want to caution anyone reading this! I am not a licensed therapist! I just came across an idea that I thought was interesting and I dragged it back here to share the idea. If you are going to do your own myofascial release then I suggest you find a professional to show you how to do it particularly if you have any physical problems to start with!
Let’s take extra good care of ourselves!