Dear Foam Roller:
Oh, you thought I was just going to say “fuck you,” didn’t you? Well, hold on. It’s a little more nuanced than that. I hope you have a couple minutes.
I think I’m starting to understand our relationship a little bit, and I don’t want to exactly thank you, but I kind of want to thank you. Kind of imagine me smiling reaching to high-five you, then faking you out at the last second and giving you the finger while scowling, but then shrugging my shoulders and high-fiving you for real a second later. Yes, I realize that sounds a lot like a metaphor for a lot of people’s dating experiences.
Anyway: Thanks, fucker. I like to do painful things like running, for such long periods of time that parts of me don’t like to work that well, and in order to keep doing those painful things, I bought you at a sporting goods store. Although I wonder if you’re available at places that supply other S&M products? Seems like it might be a good fit.
So, every night for a while now, you and I have been rolling around the kitchen floor together. Actually, I roll on you. You’re stoic throughout, and I wince and whine and make funny breathing noises. I put my bodyweight on top of you and roll you up and down the side of my thigh, where I’m told something called an IT band exists—one of those body parts you don’t even know is there until it decides to ruin your week, kind of like an appendix, but for runners. Anyway, I have complaints about that thing too, the IT band, but they’re unimportant as long as you keep doing your job. Which is apparently to make me cry through a weird sort of massage.
Some people think “massage” and they think of a warm, friendly face, someone who cares about your well-being, someone trained to figure out what’s ailing you and why, and then through understanding but firm human touch, heal that and make you feel better. You know, a massage therapist. You, foam roller, are not a massage therapist. You are like a sort of surrogate for a massage therapist, and not a good one. You approximate a massage therapist the way a body pillow approximates a real person, or a d—you know what, I’m going to stop there.
Basically, I do not think of a massage therapist when I think of you. I think of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket screaming, “You will not like me. I am hard, but I am fair.” The more pain you cause, the more good I assume you are doing for my running/ultrashuffling career. Keep in mind I haven’t had any professional training on how to use you, save for what a couple of friends have told me, and the videos from the folks at The Run Experience—who have introduced me to “East-West” rolling, which in terms of pain is like taking the leap from smoking ditch weed to smoking crack. Holy shit.
Has anyone ever used you for interrogation? Just a thought. There’s this spot that I think is where my IT band and quadricep meet, about halfway between my hip and knee, that I think could get me to give up classified information I was sworn to keep secret even upon threat of death, if it was foam-rolled just so.
Look, I guess I’m cool with what you do. I realize it’s your job, and it’s kind of my job to let you do your job. There are other things in my house that I think do much more joyous jobs, like the blender, the French press, and the ice scream scoop, but I guess not everyone has a super-fun, sunshine-and-rainbows gig in life, right? And you don’t, so I shouldn’t hold it against you. I think my IT band is feeling a little better this week, after our third or fourth session that consisted of you getting rolled over by me, and me squishing my face into several different configurations and making up new curse-word-strings for three to four minutes. And I guess that means we’re doing OK, I suppose.
So I guess I should say keep up the good work.
More stories like this one are in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.