A few months ago, I ordered a foam roller from Amazon.com. I had first used a foam roller during the physical therapy aspect of my chronic pain group. Turns out that when people are in pain, they have a tendency to curl up and assume a fetal-like position. And while curling up in this way may seem self-soothing or self-protecting, it’s really an unnatural position for a body to be in. Which means while my body is in pain, I’m making it worse when I’m all curled up.
The foam roller is not comfortable. It’s hard and unforgiving. But the longer I’m using it, the more I’m getting used to it. I started off trying to lie on it for 3 minutes at a time. The other night, I had a personal best of 11 minutes.
I lie on the foam roller, eyes closed, and facing away from my bedroom clock. I don’t want to be tempted to steal glances, checking to see how many minutes I’ve accomplished so far.
While I’m on the foam roller, that’s all I’m doing. No music. No reading. Just breathing. I’m even trying not to think -- which isn’t easy for me at all. But when I feel my mind wandering, I try to bring it back to my breathing. Focusing on what I’m feeling or hearing at the moment.
Using a foam roller is supposed to increase blood flow, help you stretch muscles, improve range of motion, and decrease pain. I don’t know if it’s doing that or not. But I do know that the foam roller is getting me to do something I’m generally not good at -- being still and doing nothing.
And I see that as an unmistakable benefit and a healthy way for me to wind down at the end of a day.