Here I am in the midst of my “recovery” from a partially torn Plantar Fascia. Which, by the way, pretty much sucks. The cortisone shot I got last week has finally started to kick in, and the sharp pains that I had in my heel are gone for the most part. I’m wearing my night split religiously. Cortisone and wearing a night split won’t cure my PF on their own. A large part of my rehab includes stretching and exercise. To accomplish this, I’ve become one with my Thera-Band tools.
About half a year ago, Thera-Band sent me a huge box of goodies to try out and use. Included in the enormous box from Thera-Band were the following: a new foam roller and Wrap+ wraps, a Foot Roller, a Stretch Strap, a Flex Bar, a very cool portable Roller Massager, and a green Exercise Band. I also got a bunch of BioFreeze – which I absolutely LOVE. I’ve been using these products since I received them, but mostly for what I’d call “maintenance”. For example, if I’d done some really intensive running sessions or hill repeats on my bike, I’d use the foam roller for a while to help work out the kinks and aid in my normal recovery.
Well, since I’m now on the physically unable to run list, I’m using these Thera-Band products for a more purposeful use: Rehabilitation of my injury.
I finally feel like I’ve used these products sufficiently well to actually write about them. Thera-Band products are professional grade medical devices. In fact, if you go to an orthopaedist, podiatrist, chiropractor, or physical therapist, you will likely find Thera-Band products there. They are, as you’d expect, constructed really well. For example, none of the foam on any of the rolling devices that I have received has experienced any noticeable compression (whereas a foam roller I bought years ago to fight IT band syndrome has developed a “groove” in it that perfectly fits my legs….and don’t say that’s happened because I’m fat!).
Thera-Band Foam Roller and Wrap +
Most of us have seen or used a foam roller before. I personally have a love/hate relationship with my foam roller that grew a few years ago when I had a particularly bad bout of IT Band Syndrome. But this is not your ordinary foam roller. When you combine the foam roller with the Wrap+ wraps, you can achieve a totally new level of massage. These very cool, ridged-surface wraps come in four progressive levels of density – allowing you to really customize the level of tissue massage you give yourself. And I’m here to tell you…if you think plain, normal foam rolling can be an episode of S&M, then you need to try one of these Wrap+’s. The bottom line, though, is that with these very cool innovations, you can really massage deeply and free knots and muscle adherences. That, my friends, is what foam roller massage is really all about.
Thera-Band Foot Roller
The Thera-Band Foot Roller has become my real go-to appliance recently. I’ve been using this roller as one aspect of a three-part strategy to roll my feet since I’ve been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis (the other two parts include a lacrosse ball and a golf ball). This molded foam roller is made of fairly dense material, but it’s not as hard as, say, PVC pipe. The ridges are helpful, and feel great. The added bonus – and one that I only recently realized, is that you can put the Foot Roller in the freezer! It doesn’t get quite as cold as a bag of ice or an ice cup would, but it does cool down considerably. Plus – if you lather your foot up with BioFreeze then use the Foot Roller you get twice the benefit!
Thera-Band Portable Roller Massager
Until recently (meaning until I got PF and started using the Foot Roller daily) the Portable Roller Massager was by far my most favorite device from Thera-Band. This massager has a fairly familiar look and feel. It’s essentially your mother’s rolling pin, but instead of being made out of wood, it’s made out of high density foam. The foam on the Roller Massager, like the Foot Roller and Wrap+ devices, is ridged. This helps increase the massage sensation and bring more bloodflow to the area to help with healing. The very cool thing about this device is that the handles are spring-loaded, and can be retracted into the device. This makes the entire unit much smaller (and hence portable). I’ve taken this on numerous trips during the past six months; it fits nicely in my luggage – but would also fit nicely into a carry-on or briefcase. I use the Roller Massager everywhere…calves, quads, hammies, glutes, back. Basically everywhere I can reach. I even used the end of the handle to dig in really deep to accomplish trigger point release.
Thera-Band Stretch Strap
I don’t know about you, but I’m not as bendy as I once was. Stretching has become….shall we say….painful. I’ve often found myself using the same-old stretches that I did when I was a high-school runner back in the 1980’s. Here’s the problem with doing the same old thing. I have found that I am unable to properly stretch certain muscle groups due to age-induced loss of flexibility. Here’s where the stretch strap comes into play. You can use this to really get the right range of motion needed to properly stretch. The strap can be used in conjunction with dynamic or static stretching (once properly warmed up). I’ve probably used this device second most of all the tools that I received from Thera-Band.
The Flex Bar is designed to work your hands and forearms. Quite frankly, I’ve hardly used this device, as I haven’t had any real issues with my arms at all. My wife, on the other hand, uses this thing religiously. She has been dealing with tennis elbow for years – which is odd, because she doesn’t play tennis. Regardless, this device is used to strengthen your forearms and help alleviate tennis elbow. I believe you can also use it for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Chances are high that you’ve seen or used Biofreeze before. This menthol-based product is a topical pain reliever that can be applied directly to the area where you are sensing pain and discomfort. The “cold therapy” that results from using this product inhibits the sensory production of pain and helps deliver relief. Biofreeze comes in many variations – gel, spray, and new, single-use packets. I really like these because the product is clear (and liquid based), doesn’t stain, and actually carries a lighter scent than the original, green gel does.
Where Can You Purchase Thera-Band and Biofreeze products?
Well, like most products these days, you can purchse practically anything online. Both Thera-Band and Biofreeze are sold through one central website – complete with lots of details and online ordering. You can also purchase any of these products from your health-care professional…especially if they are in the sports-related field (think Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, Orthopaedists, Podiatrists). I’m not sure that an OB-GYN sells Biofreeze, but you never know 😉 The pricing is really fair. For example, a 10-pack box of Biofreeze Singles is about $15.00.