Foam Roller Life Hack!

1-Poster Tube
The future of foam rolling

Origin Story

Karen Kelsky of The Professor is In says that you should strive to attend annually the two or three most important conferences related to your research field and to not really spend your time on graduate student conferences unless you have the time and resources.  For me, that means going to the American Anthropological Association and the American Education Research Association.  This year, I was accepted to present at an emerging scholars poster session through the Council for the Anthropology of Education, but I never made it.

My flight was scheduled to leave JFK at 6 pm.  This was also the second day of snow in NYC, so after being delayed until midnight and then cancelled because there were no available pilots, I was pretty much convinced that I was going to miss my presentation.  Since I was only planning to be at the entire conference for less than 48 hours anyways, I didn’t see the point in rescheduling.  I got a a full refund and a $250 credit, but I was still stuck with this 64″x 48″ poster that I’d spent a significant amount of time working on and nearly $60 to print because, of course, the printer at my school was broken.

Somewhat defeated but glad that I got my weekend back, I put the poster in it’s tube and went on about my life.  Then, inspiration hit.  I realized that I could use the cardboard poster tube as a foam roller.  It’s sturdy, round and durable.  No, it’s not perfect, but it’s far better than just putting it underneath my bed, never to see the light of day again.

Foam Rolling 101

I’m still fairly new to foam rolling also known as self-myofascial release.  It’s often been used by professional athletes, therapists and recently these techniques have become more readily available to the general public.  According to breakingmuscle.com:

Self-myofascial release is a fancy term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. This method can be performed with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, Theracane, or your own hands. By applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice.

I first used a foam roller a few weeks ago when my fitness class instructor suggested it to help with my hamstring issues.  It helped! It hurt a little bit just because I was putting pressure on a sensitive area, but it wasn’t unbearable in any way.  It was more like getting a mini-massage.  Afterwards, my leg didn’t feel as tight as it usually does after I exercise.  The bad part was that I couldn’t take it with me–I mean, I could, but it’d be kinda obvious, anyways…..  For now, using my make shift foam roller will have to do in between the times that I can use one actually made of foam.

Rolling into the Future

I’m not sure if I’ll  invest in a really nice poster tube or a real foam roller.  After all,  I was just presenting a poster to avoid the stress of an actual paper presentation, but I’m glad that something good came out of my failed 2018 AAA experience.  A quick internet search showed that foam rollers retail for as little as $9.99 and upwards of and as much as $160 based on varying quality, density, size and shape. If you’re not ready to make the investment and/or don’t have much extra space, some foam roller alternatives that I’ve seen are pvc pipes, tennis balls, soft balls and plastic water bottles (people suggested Nalgene brand). So, no fear, you too can join the foam rolling trend.

Below, find a few resources I compiled if you’d like to learn more about foam rolling irrespective of what you decide to use.  Have you used a foam roller before?  What are your thoughts? Are there any other school-related or household items that you might use as a substitute?