No, not Alice’s super cute friend, but the tools I use for stretching. They can tremendously help runners and non-runners alike. With that said, it is running season and honestly, these things have saved my legs more than plain stretching, a deep tissue massage, or even physical therapy.
The foam roller is something I believe everyone should own, regardless of your workout schedule. It hurts like heck the first few times you use it, but by the 3rd or 4th time, when it doesn’t hurt as much, you’ll realize “hey, this is actually working!”.
Here’s a quick YouTube tutorial to help you get started. Once you get comfortable with it, roll over different parts and again, once it hurts, you’ve found a good spot to work out. It sounds a little masochistic, but it works! You can get a roller at West Stride (a fantastic local running store), Target, Sports Authority or most sporting good stores. Get the firmer one. It works better and lasts longer.
Alice’s and Tate’s buddies were happy to help demonstrate. Ahhh, be so young and loose and flexible!
This ball that I purchased at Target was the best $7.99 I ever spent. If you have a piriformis or hip issue (which is fairly common as I’m coming to find out), this can do the trick and get to that deep, almost impossible spot to reach in your rear end. William’s got it pretty well but to get even deeper, sit with one ankle crossed over your other knee (with that foot flat on the ground), while sitting with one cheek on the ball and roll. You’ll know when you have hit the sweet, or not so sweet spot. One good friend of mine had some rough hip pain, went to get deep tissue massage, did a lot of stretching, and she said nothing compared to this. In just a few days, she was ready to get out and start running again, when she could hardly walk a few days prior.
One more quick example I have to share because it’s so amazing to me how this ball can make such a difference. Because of yesterday’s run, my hips were tight and knee hurt a little this morning. While rolling my hip on the ball, my knee that was tight, actually popped a few times, and now it feels soooo much better! And the crazy thing is, I wasn’t even trying to work on my knee. It’s all so connected!!
Okay, I think Alice was maybe being a little too dramatic on this one. It doesn’t hurt that bad or I wouldn’t do it. But this is a great tool too for rolling out those thighs, calves, etc.
And lastly, this green band is an old favorite that I do often. I’ll usually just use a towel at the gym and it’s great for your IT band or quads. Oh, and please ignore my son checking out his booger. I’m sure he was actually just making sure his nails were clean.
Whether you’re a runner or not, we’re all getting older and with that, less flexible. The good news is that you can gain that flexibility back very quickly. Taking just 10 minutes to roll or stretch can make a big difference, especially if you have any kind of back, hip or knee pain. It’s all connected so if one thing is tight, chances are good there are a few others.