Call it honesty or conscience or the lack of a poker face, but I’m such a hopeless liar that I usually don’t even try.
However, there’s one exception. I lie like a complete fraud whenever I’m at the physio.
The physio will ask me if I’m doing a certain essential thing that in fact I haven’t been doing, such as cross-training. But instead I answer that yes, I have been doing it. I will look my physio in the eye and just lie.
In my defence, though, I will usually try to make good on my lie. A couple of years ago I told my physio that before every run I do dynamic stretching rather than static stretching – and the next day I started a dynamic stretching habit that I’ve kept up ever since. Motivated in part by my lie about cross-training, I’ve taken up swimming lessons. I think of this as back-dating my lie into truthfulness.
My latest act of penance and restitution is foam-rolling.
A couple of years ago, the physio treated my wonky right knee and told me to get a foam roller and use it regularly. I promised I would, and then didn’t.
But my latest physio visit, earlier this year, was too much for my guilty conscience to bear. The physio treated my right knee again, asked me if I used a foam roller again, heard me say I did again. However, there and then I resolved to myself to make good on my non-rolling ways.
The physio was good enough to show me some moves – effective foam rolling exercises to massage the calves, thighs and glutes. (This article shows some of those techniques in pictures.)
My leg problems earlier this year were probably caused by excessive tightness in my muscles. Using the foam roller regularly should help keep my legs loose and relaxed, taking the strain off all the working parts. In effect, I’m giving myself a deep tissue massage.
If the foam roller is so helpful, why are so many runners as reluctant to use it as I was? Because it hurts at first, especially if you’re not doing it correctly. You’re sandwiching a tight muscle between your body weight and a roller that isn’t as soft as the word ‘foam’ suggests.
Ask your sports physio for advice on foam rolling before you start. Go easy to begin with, and aim for gradual progress. With time and regular use, your muscles will be more relaxed and feel less painful when you’re up on the roller.
I try to use the foam roller at least once a week, and I’ll definitely keep it up. Honestly.