My Friend The Foam Roller

In the second week of Couch to 5k I began to have serious issues with pain to the inside of my knees. By serious I mean I could hardly walk let alone run. On one of the week 2 runs I actually had to give up after about 5 minutes and limped home crying thinking that my running days were over and I’d not be able to continue.

I went to the Doctor sure that I had done something serious to myself. He checked and said that I was fine, I just needed to build up the running time more slowly and to rest more.  He also told me to take Ibuprofen before I went running which I think is terrible advice, if you’re hurt the last thing you should be doing is masking the pain while you exercise, that’s a recipe for major injuries… Anyway, once I knew that it wasn’t a bad injury and I hadn’t crippled myself for life I consulted Dr Google with my symptoms and found out from several different running forums that what I was suffering from was ‘Runner’s Knee’. Just to show that I wasn’t being a baby and was truly in pain I read that Scott Jurek the Ultra Marathon runner stopped running for a short period due to Runner’s Knee, if it can topple him it’s pretty damn painful… Anyway, I found out that there is actually a pretty simple reason for it and a way to get rid of it.

Just like the thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone and so on, the muscles and ligaments and whatnot are all connected as well. When the IT Bands (nope, I’d never heard of them either) down the outside of your thighs get tight it causes your knees to hurt, hurt so bad that you can’t get to sleep hurting. In order to loosen those muscles the best tool to use is a foam roller.

Now, I had read about people using foam rollers on Twitter and had assumed that what they were using was sort of like a paint roller that you moved up and down over the area that hurt, so I was kind of surprised and confused when I searched for foam rollers and found that they’re actually nothing like that. After reading quite a few reviews and comparing prices I bought this one from Amazon, mine was £12 but it is listed at £14 now.

31AKFR5L4ZL._SX342_It’s not a very long roller but it does the job and is about a third of the price of many out there.

Again, after reading around, I found links to a guide to some stretches to do with the roller by Women’s Running. The exercise called IT Band Release is the one you’re after for Runner’s Knee, and bloody shitting hell it hurts like a fucker the first 10-15 times that you do it (yes, the swearing is necessary to express the level of pain). I can honestly say, hand on heart, truthfully, pinkie swear that my knees do not hurt at all and it only took a week for them to recover once I started using the foam roller daily. I do about half of the exercises given on those pages depending on what’s hurting, and I generally do it before bed as that’s when I remember. It takes about 10 minutes tops and that’s only if something really hurts and I hold on that spot for a while. Added bonus is that my arms are getting stronger holding myself up for the calf stretches, to begin with I’d collapse after about 2 seconds!

Beware that, should you be as coordinationally challenged as I am, that you will sometimes roll right off the roller, get your hair or clothing caught underneath it or find some other way to generally make a mess of it…

So, my advice is get one of these and use it every single day, it’s well worth it and for £12-£14 it’s a bargain. I think out of all the kit I’ve bought this is in the top 3 things that have made a difference to my running, if it weren’t for the roller I don’t think I’d be running at all.

Speaking of bargains, my Brooks jacket arrived today (I am impatient and have Prime delivery) and it’s really nice, although not as big as the sizes listed on the Brooks website. I went to check the price of the larger size and discovered that it was over £30 and that the price of the size I bought yesterday had gone up by £11 overnight, guess I lucked upon a very good deal yesterday! I will keep the jacket as my boobs will hopefully shrink enough for me to do it up soon!

I did the 20 minute run yesterday and amazed myself by completing it pretty easily! I did run really slowly and discovered at the end that I could probably have gone a bit faster as I wasn’t that out of breath and found the cool down walk home (which goes up a steep hill for the last half of it) wasn’t too hard. I’m really proud and stoked and excited to get onto the next week of the plan, especially as I’m hopeful that the irritating rap song I’ve listened to about 6 times whilst doing and re-doing the runs for week 5 of the plan won’t be on the next week’s podcasts! The last time I ran for 20 minutes without stopping was 25 years ago… That’s a pretty scary statistic…

I am now confident that should there be a zombie apocalypse I will be able to run far enough fast enough to find somewhere to hide, and possible a weapon of some sort (baseball bat would be my top choice), it’s important to have a plan for those kind of things I feel.


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