Tuesday, January 09, 2007
PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE: A GOOD PIECE OF EQUIPMENT TO HAVE ON HAND.
Yes, its a tennis ball. No, I'm not taking up tennis, thankfully for anyone stupid enough to be my partner.
I forgot about my trusty little friend. I used to keep one in my gym bag and one in my purse, so I would have one wherever I went.
It came in very useful several years ago when I was suffering from piriformis syndrome. After trying everything under the sun (stretches, massage, icing, etc.), I came across an article that suggested using the tennis ball to break up the inflammation, which really is what causes the piriformis problem.
I can honestly say, rolling my butt around on a tennis ball where the piriformis problem was, was more painful than childbirth. It was like a hypodermic needle piercing into me. But after a few days of this therapy, along with icing after, finally, after almost 3 years, I found some relief from a problem that had become severely chronic. It actually cleared up totally, but I continued to use this over the years whenever I felt it coming on. From that day forward, I kept a tennis ball on hand.
Then a few years later, I suffered from major plantar fasciatis so severe I was limping around for months. And this was not a running injury. I probably should have claimed workers' comp, since it resulted after spending 10 hours on my feet at work, in shoes not conducive to walking a block, let alone running all over an office for that many hours. But then, it could be argued, rightly so, that I should have worn more sensible shoes. But then, my argument would be, also rightly so, who knew? Who knew I would be subject to that kind of torture, and fall victim to this affliction, all at the expense of fashion. The next day, I couldn't even walk. Six months later, I was still battling the problem. Then voila! Reading another article, I was reminded of my trusty companion, the tennis ball, again. Once again, after three or four days of aggressive massaging with the tennis ball, followed by icing, I was no longer limping. And after a week or so, I had it under control for a long time after.
I am convinced of the magical powers of the tennis ball. So why then do I keep forgetting all its handy uses??
A while back, I complained of constant heel pain in one foot mainly, but not limited to the one foot all the time. One was just worse than the other. I traced the main problem to socks and replaced them and the problem eased up almost immediately. But, as I've continued progressing with my running more and more, I hadn't totally let the problem heal, and I still was suffering from some residual heel pain that just wasn't clearing up no matter how much I iced. Some days, it was sharp, other days nothing. But it still was a nagging problem, and most noticeable, as plantar problems are, upon first arising or waking up in the middle of the night. After walking around a minute or so, it would be fine. Lately, I have been very vigilant with my heel stretches too, but it just wasn't quite going away.
Then a lightbulb goes off in my brain again: the tennis ball. Okay, start digging around the house, wondering which piece of furniture it had rolled under or the kids had thrown it behind. I found one finally in the basement and rolled my foot and heel around it while watching TV Sunday night. It hurt, no doubt, like a small stone in my heel, and I could feel the crunchiness of calcium deposits, so I knew I had some work to do. After massaging agressively all around the heel, arch, and sides of my heel, I did my icing.
The result? Monday morning, no pain. Nothing. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't find one spot on my foot that hurt. Yee ha! All day, same thing. Usually, the longer I sit, the stiffer it got, so I was always limping some when I got up. Not yesterday. Or today either. I did bring the tennis ball with me, and am using it as I type, just to keep it loose, especially after my run this morning.
And be assured, it can be used to massage any area you can roll it around on and you will feel relief. I hope I can continue to remember this handy tool from now on.