A shamrock-studded foam roller just lifts my spirits when my Irish thighs aren’t smiling. In fact, these days my thighs, legs, feet, and calf muscles aren’t “smiling” a lot because I make them run, pedal the stationary bike/elliptical machine, and do squats during the week. St. Patrick’s Day will be no exception. I’ll probably start off with 30 minutes on the elliptical machine before going straight to a party that Nate, Alex, and I have been invited to. Then, late at night, when I return home, I’ll be glad I’ve got my festive foam roller to loosen the knots forming in the back of my legs. I’m pretty sure many will be able to share in my pain. St. Patrick’s Day events in the form of 5Ks, mud runs, parades, pinching, and other shenanigans abound. Fortunately, if you partake in any of these events, you no longer have to go home to a boring foam roller, thanks to some felt and a pair of scissors.
For those of you who may not be familiar with foam rolling, it is highly recommended by almost any physical therapist or personal trainer I’ve ever met. Foam rolling eases Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which intense exercise causes. Rollers come in many sizes, shapes, and densities and they allow for an affordable way to massage deep tissues and muscles that are sore. Essentially, you use your own body weight, against the roller, to massage tender muscles. According to a 2015 study in the Journal of Athletic Training, a 20-minute session, immediately after exercise and every 24 hours after, could “reduce the likelihood of muscle tenderness.” The National Academy of Sports Medicine also advocates for foam rolling, but cautions that some individuals should not use this method for relieving pain if they’ve had congestive heart failure, kidney failure, bleeding disorders, organ failure, or contagious skin conditions. For those who are healthy enough to foam roll, several techniques and examples are given on the NASM website. I’ve tried them all and they really do work, except I don’t like doing them in public, for reasons you’ll notice when you click on the NASM link above.
In any case, you’ll also notice that the male model illustrating the exercises in the NASM link is using a very unappealing, plain roller that just doesn’t seem very special. I happen to have one of those rollers in my closet and I think maybe that’s the reason why I don’t use it very often. It’s not very special looking. I probably would use it more often if I decorated it every once in a while, so here are some easy steps for tricking out your foam roller for St. Paddy’s Day:
1)Draw a shamrock shape onto a piece of paper—or use a free template from the internet.
2) Cut it out and place it onto a piece of white or green felt.
3) Trace the shape with a marker.
4) Cut the felt shamrock out.
5) Cover one side with double-sided-tape and place it onto the roller.
6) Repeat steps 2-5 to make more green and white shamrocks. Place them onto the roller until it is covered to your liking.
One word of caution though: You’ll probably want to be fully alert and awake when you foam roll after a night of follies and fun. No one likes to be found face down on a roller after St. Patrick’s Day.
In Other News: I just had another short story published in Theme of Absence, which is edited by Jason Bougger. This literary magazine specializes in speculative fiction, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. “Molecular Bonds” is my latest–feel free to check it out here, on this link: “Molecular bonds”
Your Turn: Have you ever used a foam roller to relieve pain after a workout? Was it beneficial?