"Foam Rolling" with a PVC Pipe

Those of us who have tried foam rolling know that there’s a certain love-hate relationship that goes with it.  It’s painful because it’s massaging the muscle and fascia, but at the same time that massage is going to help you feel better.

Anyway, for a couple days I had felt some sharp pain in the lower, front part of my knee.  It finally came to a head when I was doing some plyometric single-arm push-ups (with hands on something elevated.  I’m not quite to the floor yet).  Regardless, the force from catching myself was somehow hitting my knees as well, and it was enough that I had to call it quits on the push ups.  Since I’m not too fond of quitting any exercise early, I started thinking about ways to hopefully lessen my knee pain.

I used to foam roll pretty often because it helps keep me from getting too sore.  Eventually, since I foam rolled so much it didn’t feel like it was doing much more.  I could roll out my IT band (usually the most sensitive spot for me) on a PVC pipe, and it still felt fine. So, I stopped.

Anyway, after my push up knee pain, I rolled out my IT band (the outside part of your thigh) on the knee that was hurting.  After about thirty seconds of painful foam rolling, I stood up and my knee pain was gone.  I was curious, so I dropped back down and tried a push up.  It still felt fine.  I decided that it was probably smart not to push the envelope and keep doing push ups, so I called it quits early.  Regardless, I was really happy that my knee pain was gone, and I was really happy that I was mature enough to stop my training before I hurt myself.  Now, I foam roll every other day to keep my muscles and connective tissue happy.

The moral of the story is to try foam rolling.  It’s going to be really painful the first few times, but after a while the pain subsides.  It’s largely a preventative maintenance type of thing.  Put yourself through a little pain now so that you don’t have to go through a lot of pain in an injury later.  If it’s too painful, then cushion the foam roller by wrapping a towel around it or something.  Then, slowly graduate to more and more dense surfaces to get a better and better massage into the tissue.

Foam Rolling: the poor man’s massage.  🙂

For further reading, check out a couple of the references for this wikipedia article.
Using Foam Rollers