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To the tight and sore,

One of the first things I ever got from going to a specialty running store was a foam roller… and I should mention I got some basic ideas of how to use it as well. The one I got was not very expensive and I like to support locally owned businesses so I was not particularly hard to sell on the idea and I was not all that concerned whether or not it would “work” or “prove useful” if I am being honest. I liked the vibe of the store. I liked being able to ask questions of people who knew more than me about something. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. Little did I know that a twenty-dollar item (give or take) would lead to something so profound.

I remember taking the roller home and trying it out on the floor. I did the most obvious thing I could think of which was rolling up and down my back on top of it. I actually got a little “crack” the first time and it just kind of felt good so I kept using it. I remember doing a trail run not long after with a couple of thousand feet of elevation gain and getting home and rolling on the floor all over trying to loosen things up I had just tightened… a lot. It just made me feel better. It made it easier to go for another run the next day.

While trying to loosen up my calves and ankles one day I noticed how uncomfortable it was in the tight spots. I was also already familiar with massage and so I just kept trying to press into those areas realizing that it was possible for them to “release.” I went back to the store and two things were imparted to me: one was that I did not need to keep rolling over the sore spots but could park on them and hold myself in the one uncomfortable spot (breathing and doing my best to relax) and it would be more likely to “let go.” The other was that I could get another denser/ harder roller and it would “get deeper.” I bought that roller immediately even though it was twice the price of the first one (and it proved to be worth every penny- I am actually sitting/ balancing on it right now as I type this many years later) and went home and immediately “hit my calves” with it. It was better (for me, at the time, given what I was trying to do and learn) and I loved it even more.

Now at some point I started stretching and “rolling” in the same session and that seemed to help even more. When I got my first ball to work on my glutes and hips I nearly lost my mind it was so good. This led to me learning more vocabulary, new techniques, and turning all this into a daily practice. I would have had to stop running several times if it were not for me learning to get my “morning stretch” on. I am very thankful for the staff of that store- which is the store I work at now. Thanks guys; I mean it.

I guess the thing about being introduced to mobility work that really was profound was the idea that I could do some basic maintenance on my own body. It was, after all, my body to live in- and not someone else’s. I would be hard pressed to overvalue that attitude. On more than one occasion the very idea that I could do something to help myself (even if just a little) gave me hope and kept me from quitting. This has begun to leak into other areas of my life and that truly is profound. So if you guys ever are in the area- feel free to look me up at the shop. I’d be happy to tell you all about how you can develop your own “morning stretch” and all that that could do for you. Our other staff are also pretty great too so feel free to talk to any of us. Much love.

-Joseph

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