Monday, September 21, 2015

In The World of Wellness: They See Me (Foam) Rollin', They Hatin'

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" in those ways and also as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you. Being more informed = better decisions for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: Foam rolling saves lives, basically.
04W Crossfit
Roughly six months ago I hurt my back. I thought I could tough it out and that I'd get better in no time at all, but I seriously underestimated how badly I had messed myself up. It wasn't until the pain started consuming me - reaching to my neck, then my knee, then my ankle - that I realized something serious was wrong. I eventually sought out physical therapy, which has changed my life in many magical ways. The most magical way - foam rolling.

Let's start at the beginning.

How did I hurt myself? From sitting. Stupid, ridiculous, sitting. I sit at a desk while I work, I sit at a desk while I go to school, I sit at a desk while I do homework for school, I sit at a desk while I type this. SO MUCH SITTING. It's frustrates the heck out of me, but until I figure out how to build myself a sit-stand desk (because those mo-fo's cost an arm and a leg for anything somewhat appealing to the eye) I have to sit. 

Not too long ago I had actually written about the side-effects of sitting and suggested some tools I use to help with it, so it's not like I didn't know it was a problem. I, naively, thought I was moving around enough during the day - getting up and stretching, walking around the house for a few minutes every hour, working out and walking the dogs every day - to counteract the sitting. I wasn't. 

Now, I get up every half hour, foam roll every single night, and flex my glutes as much as I possibly can while sitting (it sounds weird, but it's doctor recommended). I'm still working on getting back to normal, but things are tremendously better. Much of this is due to foam rolling.

Why foam roll? And what exactly is it?
The easiest way to explain it is this: Foam rolling is a form of massage that relieves tight spots in the body, thus releasing tension that builds up and ends up causing far more damage than we realize. It also helps increase circulation and - bonus! - reduce cellulite.

Do your ankles pop? You need to foam roll. Back pain? Better start foam rolling. Neck pain? Yep, you should probably foam roll. 

Every. Single. Day.

I know that sounds like a lot. I mean, you already have so many things to do, what with brushing your teeth and eating and working and life, but this is one of those habits that, once formed, will change you for the better. Dare I say, rock your world even!

One key thing to note: It's going to hurt. Probably a lot at first because your body will be far tighter than you ever imagined. You may even scream my name out followed by profanities for talking you into trying it at all. However, once you've been rollin' for a while, it gets better. Hurt so good kind of better.

Another important thing is the roller itself. Any foam roller will work, but the ones with more definition to them, with the rounded or square sections all over them, are WAY better.

There are a lot of different ways to foam roll, but thanks to my wonderful and hilarious physical therapy team, these are the one's I've learned that help with allllllllll the sitting. 

1. Glutes - so good for your bum! You might want to chant that to yourself while you roll.
Photo Credit: NASM

2. IT Band. Look how happy this lady is. She clearly hasn't actually rolled yet, she's just leaning on it. The smile is a lie, you guys. You smile after you're done, not during.
Photo Credit: Rumble Roller

3. Quads. These KILL me, but they also save me after I've done them. Any time my back hurts, I do this and, poof! Pain-be-gone. 
Photo Credit: Active 

I realize that I've made foam rolling sound wonderful, yet terrifying, so don't let that scare you. I'm keeping it real, homies and homettes. It does hurt. Eventually, it will get so much better, though. More importantly, the benefits are significant to your well being, to the health of your spine, to your overall aging process. The less tight and achy you are, the better everything will be in the long run.

Now, go find yourself an awesome foam roller and sing yourself some Chamillionaire. It helps, trust me. 

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