Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Favorites: A Roller, a Ball and a Stick - Oh MY! (Part 1 of 3)

 Part One: The Stick Review and how to make your own for under $12!

When I first started running in May 2012 it was at our local park, where there is a very nice .45 mile walking trail.  At first this seemed plenty far to me!  But as my mileage increased, it got increasingly boring, so on Saturday morning, August 4th, my husband and I set out on my very first "long run".  We used a route a friend had printed out for us in an area I was unfamiliar with.  Here is what I wrote on Endomondo after that run:

"This was our first attempt running a Saturday Long run.  Everything that could go wrong did.  My GPS was screwed up, and I injured  my hip and had to cut the run short."

I know exactly when it happened.  There was an area where the sidewalk ended and there was high grass for about 50 feet before the sidewalk resumed.  Now that I know this area like the back of my hand, I know how to bypass this sidewalk breach - but at the time I just bounded through. 

A 45 year old beginning runner should not "bound".


Long story shortened for you, Dear Reader, I am now very familiar with various massage tools as well as many other methods for alleviating hip pain.  Today, I'd like to review "The Stick" massager.

 Well, being a cheapskate, before I bought The Stick I tried making my own.  It looked like this:

I used a piece of 3/4 inch PVC pipe for the main part.  Then I bought a bunch of 1" couplings, slid them on the pipe, and finished the whole thing with foam bicycle handle grips that I purchased from Amazon for about $6.  This actually worked quite well!  The couplings were nice because they have a raised ridge in the center which help them to rotate more freely.  It does tend to pinch bare skin a bit, but that only seemed to bother me and not my husband.   In fact, my husband Brian, still uses this stick every day at work before his lunch run.

As for the actual Travel Stick Massager, I chose that size based mostly on price and Amazon reviews.  It is indeed an upgrade from my homemade version in that it looks nicer and doesn't pinch my skin as badly.  However they work much the same - and while I feel the massage it provides is quite nice for calves, shins, and even hamstring/quads, for me it is inadequate for my hips and glutes.  It feels nice to use on these areas, but simply doesn't provide the penetration to get to my really tight hip areas.  I do find this tool very helpful for relieving tight calves before a run, and I like the slight flexibility that allows it to conform to the roundness of my leg.  Another pro is that you don't have to get into any difficult or awkward positions  to use this.  You just roll it up and down your leg like a rolling pin.

From what I have read, many trainers do recommend rolling instead of stretching pre-run.  A good article about how rolling prepares us to run can be found here.

Who would I recommend this for?

Someone whose main area of concern is in the lower leg or a runner who just wants an alternative to stretching pre-run that doesn't require him/her to get on the ground.

Tune in next week when I review the Trigger Point Grid Roller in Part 2!

What are your favorite massage tools?