For Your Back – not your Hair
What I have in mind at this time, is just a sharing moment mixed up in a kind of stream-of-consciousness sort of thing.
Tho I have opined before about the good fortune I was having with Dr John Sarno’s book, The Mindbody Prescription, like so many things we must deal with simultaneously these days — it’s hard to fit it all in. The technique as outlined in his book is really dynamite! I love it and it truly works. Have purchased and given away about 6 or more to other back sufferers. Don’t hear much back from anyone. . .but the problems I can be prone to, almost everyone else has too. . .so, I get it! The Mindbody concept won’t work unless you DO IT! Because one has success and the pain ceases, doesn’t mean done and over with. Dealing with our powerful minds at work. . .can come back and whammo — there ya go again. So one must be vigilant. I’ll come back to my point, but for now, I digress:
(under my skin), I’m kind of a Gypsy. . . you know, free-spirited, wandering. . enjoying the world. In other words:
A Gypsy with “clipped wings”
Been without a form of locomotion for 4 or so years now. An arrangement which didn’t work out well for me. Most of you get how deeply I feel about “choice”. . .but I feel even more deeply about homeostasis, so can’t allow resentment to creep in, especially because I endorsed the arrangement. By and large, shopping online has been enriching and profitable. Not a problem. But seeing a doctor of choice doesn’t work out, so quit trying.
Have been a chiropractic patient most of my life starting at age 16 when I awoke one day and couldn’t move my head, it was stuck looking at the wall over one shoulder. No choice – mother took me and have been gratefully, a patient to this healing form ever since. It brings relief! Being a fussy patient and rather biased in what constitutes a good chiropractor, have been inclined to hold onto one who is “gifted.” When my choice closes up shop, that’s a real problem. I loved that man. . .his humor, his mind, his sweetness, heart and most of all, his hands. Used a really cool adjustment table with holes in it for the hip and so on. Has probably been over five years now. He accepted a position with some military department who also valued his ability. Tho I miss him, I wish him well.
Since I don’t approve of pharmaceuticals or OTC stuff for my body when little things arise over which I can’t wish away, I have generally been able to find satisfactory solutions. EFT has been invaluable to me and still is. . . especially, emotional stuff. As you know, I adore Donna Eden’s Energy Medicine. Have books and training CD’s. Am convinced this is the path for the larger, deeper, systemic difficulties we develop. It helps, tho, to be able to be part of a community or some kind of “others” – even one other to be able to test with and so on. As with all things, when one door closes, another will generally be available. Life is like that!
Back to my point about the back struggles we all go thru at one time or another
I had tried to dream up some kind of roller thing with a solid center and maybe a softer encasing covering it. Got kinda lost in the design — I was making it way too complicated. . .was already stuck with some kind of platform and how I was going to get it to roll back and forth. Was trying to explain to my son; after all – this is his field. He laughed and said it had already been done and told me he had such a thing at home and gave me a site to go to and order online. Which I did. It was M-F Athletic/Perform Better. Was a Molded Foam Roller. Don’t remember. . perhaps$20 to $30 with shipping, etc. – – so I did it. But I noticed other companies and searched it out. Saw Rollers only 12 inches in length, but Jeff seemed pretty convinced that the 36″ job was the way to go as it was more versatile and so on. Told him I liked the softer jobs with little molded fingers like bumps on it. He didn’t see that as necessary. When it arrived, I couldn’t believe that it was like an instrument of steel. I couldn’t roll on that. I tried, but told him I would send it back. The search online had shown that Target and Wallmart both had selections more to my liking.
So that’s how my experience with the foam roller came about. This roller is a tad softer on these older bones of mine. I keep it standing by a nearby plant-stand and sometimes use it daily. Not much, just sorta slide up and down on my back as I propel myself with my heels dug into the carpet. The hard part was learning how to keep my hair out of the way as it is so long now, it almost reaches those aching ribs I’m talking about.
I do far too much sitting compared to the life I used to live. Has changed my posture, always slumped over the computer or dining room table where I study and read and so on. It’s tragic what we do to our bodies, isn’t it? But with my pooch walking, mini-trampoline and now the roller, I’m generally, good to go. Not a biggie, . . . just sayin’. . Jan
What Is a Foam Roller, How Do I Use It, and Why Does It Hurt?
Self-myofascial release is a fancy term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. This method can be performed with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, Theracane, or your own hands. By applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice.
Left photo: Calf bottom. Right photo: Calf top.
Do I Have Tight Muscles or Trigger Points?
Trigger points are specific “knots” that form in muscles. They are unique and can be identified because they will refer pain. Pain referral, for our purposes, can most easily be described as the pain felt when pressure is applied to one area of the body, but the pain is felt or radiated in another area. A common example of a trigger point is felt while foam rolling your iliotibial (IT) band as it causes pain to radiate up to the hip or all the way down the leg to the ankle. When rolling or working on tight/sore muscles you will experience discomfort or pain. Think of it like the pain you get while stretching. It should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable, and when you are done it should feel better.
Left photo: Chest – front delt. Right photo: Lats.
Why Am I Doing Something That Hurts?
For many, deep tissue massage is easy to understand. Ideally someone is able to work out the knots in your muscles, and it is commonly known this process may be uncomfortable and at times painful. Self-myofascial release provides the user the ability to control the healing and recovery process by applying pressure in precise locations, because only you can feel exactly what is happening. It is always recommended to consult with your physician or physical therapist for therapeutic/sharp pain and receive approval before starting self-myofascial release. For most people you will be cleared immediately and your doctor will encourage the practice.
Releasing trigger points helps to reestablish proper movement patterns and pain free movement, and ultimately, to enhance performance. Utilizing stretching alone is not always enough to release muscles tightness, which is why foam rollers have thrived on the mass market. Imagine a bungee cord with a knot tied into it and then envision stretching the cord. This creates tension, stretching the unknotted portion of the muscle and the attachment points. The knot, however, has remained unaltered. Foam rolling can assist in breaking up these muscle knots, resuming normal blood flow and function. The goal to any corrective or recovery technique is to get you back to the point of normal functioning, as if nothing was ever wrong. When was the last time you trained like you were a teenager, going hard without a second thought, and injuries were something that only happened due to physical trauma like a 250lb linebacker hitting you?
Left photo: Hip adductor. Right photo: Hip extensor – glute.
Left photo: Hip flexor. Right photo: Inner quad.
What Causes Trigger Points and Tight Muscles?
Both have the same contributing factors including training, flexibility, movement patterns, posture, nutrition, hydration, rest, stress, and other lifestyle factors. Our bodies learn to compensate for what we throw at them every day, but we can exceed our ability to recover via too many intense workouts, poor posture, and other lifestyle factors. This is when you need assistance using recovery techniques or through seeing a professional. If you lived a perfect life with everything in balance, you would theoretically never have either of these conditions, however I’ve yet to meet that person.
How Does Self-Myofascial Release Work?
Deep compression helps to break up or relax tight muscles and adhesions formed between muscle layers and their surroundings. Imagine you are tenderizing your own muscles. They should be soft and supple like a baby’s muscles. However, if our muscles are not taken care of properly we can experience loss of flexibility, adhesions, and painful movement. The compression allows normal blood flow to return and restoration of healthy tissue. Our bodies naturally want to be healthy and strong, but sometimes an extra boost is needed to achieve optimal muscle and tissue health.
Left photo: IT band bottom. Right photo: IT band top.
How Do I Know What to Foam Roll and How to Do It?
Areas to focus on can be identified in two different ways. The first is through screenings. If you have followed the last two articles – squat screening and hip hinge screening– and have had struggles with either movement, you should include foam rolling in your workout and recovery program. You may target specific areas/muscles that relate to the movements you are focusing on. If after using the foam roller your movement improves, you have a more specific strategy to follow. Secondly, trigger points and tight muscles can be found through self-exploration, utilizing the list of techniques below and exploring each one.
To foam roll properly, apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group using the roller and your bodyweight. You should roll slowly, no more than one inch per second.When you find areas that are tight or painful, pause for several seconds and relax as much as possible. You should slowly start to feel the muscle releasing, and after 5-30 seconds the discomfort or pain should lessen. If an area is too painful to apply direct pressure, shift the roller and apply pressure on the surrounding area and gradually work to loosen the entire area. The goal is to restore healthy muscles – it is not a pain tolerance test. You may also use other objects to work on muscles such as a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, Theracane, or Trigger Point Therapy Kit.
Never roll a joint or bone. Avoid rolling your lower back. To target these muscles I recommend using tennis or lacrosse balls. If you are having issues with your neck, refer these issues to an appropriate medical professional, as these areas they can be more sensitive and require more advanced attention.
Left photo: Lacrosse ball – hip. Right photo: Lacrosse ball – shoulder blade.
What Happens After Rolling?
You may be sore the next day. It should feel as if your muscles have been worked/released, however you should not push yourself to the point of excessive soreness. Drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and eat clean. This will help to flush your system and fuel your muscles more effectively. Give it 24-48 hours before focusing on the same area again.
Left photo: Mid-back. Right photo: Upper back.