dievca is a degenerate…in the Physical sense.
she knows that she has damage in her body from being a former elite athlete,
but it is her everyday actions that trigger episodes of pain.
Taking care of her Mom/Dad at Thanksgiving blew her over the edge this time.
(Turns out her Dad had a UTI and needed a hospital stay with antibiotics to heal)
Her work with a Physical Trainer has been cumulative and she can now apply her own fixes.
The Foam Roller is an important tool in her recovery.
There are a number of foam rollers available at the gyms or available to buy – its confusing. Here’s a guide to help with what type of foam roller does what.
Foam Roller Guide
Foam rollers come in various densities and shapes. Below is a list of the different kinds of rollers you might come across and how each one helps take your physical health/recovery to the next level.
A soft foam roller is perfect for beginners and can be used by almost anyone since it’s the most gentle of them all. This option is great for those who are just getting used to foam rolling or those who are looking for a more rejuvenating (and less excruciating) recovery session. If you’re a total first-timer, this one from Spri is a solid option. It’s soft and has the most give. ($22; amazon.com)
This one’s for the athlete who has super-tight muscles that need a little extra love or for anyone who’s experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (what happens when it’s been two or three days since your last workout and you’re still sore.) It’s denser than a soft roller, which is more effective at relieving tight muscles and trigger points. A firm roller aligns muscle tissue and breaks up the beginnings of adhesions or muscle strains. It can also help with lymphatic drainage—which carries waste away from the tissues—and decreases inflammation.”($38; amazon.com)
Only use this style if you’re experienced with foam rolling and are ready for plenty of hurt-so-good pain. It provides little-to-no give, and the textured surface targets knots and kinks. Look for a roller like this one from TriggerPoint with a literal grid pattern design. ($35; tptherapy.com)
An even more advanced level than a grid roller. This roller should only be used on a healthy athlete, as it is extra firm, and the bumps built into the roller provide more focused trigger point relief and reportedly stimulate deeper layers of muscle. The roller works to increase the flexibility in your soft tissue and provide long-lasting pain relief. In other words, the temporary pain is worth it. Try the RumbleRoller.($45; amazon.com)
The ultimate player in the foam-rolling game. A vibrating foam roller takes the effectiveness of a deep-tissue foam roller and ups the ante with vibration technology. The goal is to minimize how much pain you actually feel (kind of like how those vibrating massage chairs feel good, not painful) while relaxing tight muscles, so you can spend less time and effort on those tender-to-the-touch areas and net better results. This version is much pricier than your standard roller, but worth it if you’re serious about relief.($200; amazon.com)
Science has shown us that the brain is incredibly plastic–meaning it does not “harden” at age 25 and stay solid for the rest of our lives. While certain things, especially language, are more easily learned by children than adults, we have plenty of evidence that even older adults can see real transformations in their neurocircuitry.
In order to do any kind of task, we have to activate various portions of our brain. In the context of various tasks including language learning, experiencing happiness, and exercising…our brains coordinate a complex set of actions involving motor function, visual and audio processing, verbal language skills, and more. At first, the new skill might feel stiff and awkward. But as we practice, it gets smoother and feels more natural and comfortable. What practice is actually doing is helping the brain optimize for this set of coordinated activities, through a process called myelination.
Scientists have found that myelination increases the speed and strength of the nerve impulses by forcing the electrical charge to jump across the myelin sheath to the next open spot on the axon. In other words, myelin turns the electrical signal into the brain version of Willy Wonka’s sideways traveling elevator. Instead of traveling in a straight line down the axon, the charge is hop-skip-jumping down at a much faster rate.
Practice Makes Myelin, So Practice Carefully
Understanding the role of myelin means not only understanding why the amount of practice is important to improving your skill (as it takes repetition of the same nerve impulses again and again to activate the two glial cells that myelinate axons), but also the quality of practice. Similar to how the science of creativity speaks about idle time and not crushing through one task after the other, practicing with a focus on quality is equally important.
As an Athlete, my coach put a spin on the old phrase and would always say: “Practicing poorly just develops poor skills.” If we practice poorly and don’t correct our mistakes, we will myelinate those axons, increasing the speed and strength of those poor signals. Not good.
Practicing skills over time causes those neural pathways to work better in unison via myelination. To improve your performance, you need to practice often, and get feedback so you practice correctly.
Whew! A bit heavy on a Monday…but where dievca’s mind is dwelling~
Photo: dievca NYC 01/2017
Thank you to Buffer and Lifehacker, Jason Shen