Yes, it’s true. I’ve actually written a non-CIM training post! Are you as excited as I am??
I knew nothing about the IT band before I started running. Even after running for many years (albeit, not that seriously), I never experienced any IT band issues. However, as I continued to run regularly after this year’s Oakland Half Marathon, I began to get a soreness/tightness in my left IT band area. “So that’s what this whole IT band thing is about,” I thought to myself. (I’ve since realized that my particular sensation is unusual — most runners will get pain on the outside of their knee.) Luckily, many runners before me had figured out a relatively straightforward and effective IT band treatment: the foam roller. In fact, the Gypsy Runner already had one, so I just borrowed his on occasion.
It turns out that foam rollers and other massage tools are great for working on all sorts of sore spots: Achilles tendons, plantar fascia, calves, and glutes, just to name a few. According to this article, the way that it works is that massage breaks up scar tissue and allows it to be reabsorbed by the body, allowing faster and proper healing. Moreover, a peer-reviewed study published earlier this year showed that post-exercise massage can reduce inflammation by mitigating the production of cellular stress factors. It’s cool that they’re starting to get at the molecular mechanism of how this works (especially given that I’m a nerdy scientist at heart), but the proof is in the pudding: since using the foam roller, I haven’t had any significant IT band issues. Also, it feels so freaking good! Actually, at first it hurt like hell, but the more I use it, the more I can feel the IT band relaxing and hurt less. Or maybe you just get used to it. Whatevs.
Without further ado, these are the models I’ve used:
GoFit Foam Roll
This is the one that the Gypsy Runner has.
Pros: Affordable. Firm but not too firm. Widely available (he bought his at REI, and I’ve seen this model in a lot of stores). Lightweight.
Cons: It appears to be getting softer/disintegrating with time. Even though it’s lightweight, it’s still too long to be considered travel-friendly.
Thera-Roll – Grey (Hard)
I bought this one because I had Team Performance Points to burn. I had no idea how small it was (see photo).
Pros: Small, travel-friendly. Very firm. Good for lower calf, ankle, and bottom of feet.
Cons: Too small and too short for larger muscle groups, like… oh, anything above the lower calf.
Trigger Point GRID
I got tired of not having my own roller, so I bought this one for myself a few months ago.
Pros: Very high quality. Firm. Has various textured nubs (though I’m not sure if they make a real difference). Easy to clean. Shorter than the GoFit roller — easier to travel with? The company also claims it’s more environmentally friendly, in that it uses less foam and won’t break down as easily, resulting in a more durable (and therefore, less disposable) product.
Cons: Pricier than other rollers (starts at $40)… but considering that it is much better in quality, it will probably be the only foam roller I’ll ever buy.
Winner: Trigger Point GRID.
I should mention that I also use a tennis ball to massage my feet and my glutes. I’ve heard that golf balls are also good for foot massages and lacrosse balls for your back. Anyone have experience with these or other massage devices (e.g., the Stick, Acuball, Thera Cane)? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
About the title: thanks to 2 blog posts with titles referencing songs (here and here), I felt compelled to stick with the theme. I scrapped my initial (and quite milquetoast) “Just Roll With It” to something a little more hip (?)… and a little more 90’s. So without further ado, I give you Coolio: