I bought my first foam roller in 2011. I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t want to spend $40-60 on an unknown when money was beyond tight. I bought a cheapo $10 one off Amazon and it quickly dented out of shape and got lost in a corner and forgotten. In late 2016, I saw another roller sitting on a discounted shelf in rite aid for $3 and said…eh why not and picked it up. I tried using it on and off and it helped a little but I wasn’t really blown away by it and it mostly sat on a shelf again.
A few months ago Kaeshi Chai hosted a foam roller workshop for dancers taught by Perla Abdie and Albert Chan. I thought it was a cool idea and I really wanted to learn how to use this thing. There had to be more to it, so off to NYC I trudged on a dreary March Sunday night. It was worth it and changed everything. Now I love my foam roller so much and would carry it around like a toddler with a safety blanket if I could. Let me tell you why.
I beat up my body a lot, from sitting long hours, not getting proper warm-ups before shows, exercise, dancing, teaching and then adding in some nice fun injuries to boot. My legs get tight that then pull my knee and back wonky and I have a bunch of spinal hernias that the tighter my back gets the more interesting ways they come up with to remind me that they are there. I try to stretch when I can but I am not the best at being consistent and sometimes it feels like it is not enough. I carry a massage ball in my bag and when I really can’t take it anymore and it is flaring up really bad I will sometimes cave and cough up the money for a real massage. These issues might sound familiar to some of you.
One of the great advantages of foam rollers is they allow you a way to do at home self-massage, get into the odd body spots (ie: can we say ow inner thigh?) and you can control how hard and long you are treating those areas. It is not a replacement for an educated massage therapist but it sure as hell helps. I try to make sure to roll after gig/show nights or if I have taken a beating teaching that day. I will usually roll in the post shower post adrenaline wind down time after these events. I have noticed a drastic difference in how my body responds the next day to using the foam roller.
When I roll, I may be a little sore or stiff the next morning but overall I feel fine. When I get lazy (I want to say tired but call a spade a spade) and I don’t roll when I know I should, I usually feel like I got hit by a truck the next day and will have some sort of pain/extreme stiffness.
I will say it takes a little bit of strength and effort to use the roller properly and yes it might hurt a bit. I highly recommend getting a basic roller tutorial either via skype or ideally in person from someone who is knowledgeable about the roller (If you want to contact the people I took the workshop from please direct message me). There were so many things I learned that I was doing wrong like not keeping the whole body engaged and basic alignment for different body parts. I have been using it for 3 months now and I am telling you it is worth the effort of learning how to use it properly.
If you are thinking of getting one I would recommend getting a smaller one so you can turn it and use it all over the body. You can find them online or at most sporting goods stores. As for what type to get…I would say that is personal preference. Thank you for letting me share my love for this thing that has been such a life saver for me and I hope you love it too. Have something you want me to review or share more information on? Let me know in the comments below or on the Long Island belly dance contact page.
Tips, Tricks and Life of a Long Island Entertainer