Relationships are give and take. The good ones take time to grow and develop into something mutually beneficial and reliable. I don’t just mean romantic ones either. Chances are you have relationships with your boss, your coworkers, your coach, your teammates, your barista and maybe (if you have your shit together) your financial advisor, your realtor, etc. If you do take the time to put energy and thoughtful trust into the relationship, you will reap what you sow. For example, show up on a weekly basis to your favorite coffee shop, order in a confident and timely fashion and tip accordingly, and you will be rewarded with prompt service and maybe a free muffin now and again.
Some relationships are harder to cultivate. Your mother, for example, might never seem to add anything positive to the situation and for all you invest you might just feel judged and nitpicked to a shell of your former self. I have no advice for that relationship except that it’s probably necessary.
Another one that probably seems one-sided right about now? Take a look at that corner of your apartment where things go to die. You know the one, cobwebby and maybe partially hidden by an armchair. What’s back there, partially obscured by said furniture? If you are a dedicated cyclist, chances are therein lies a foam roller. OK maybe it’s at the top of your closet (conveniently out of reach) or it might be functioning as a kind of laundry hanger for those items that are not quite dirty but not quite clean. Either way, it hasn’t been used in a while.
Having a relationship with your foam roller is hard because it seems like for all the time and energy you put into it, all you get is 15 minutes of excruciating pain. Plus, the energy of taking it out from its dusty hiding place, unrolling the yoga mat and plopping your butt down in front of the TV just seems like so much work post-ride, when you could just lay on the closest surface to the door with your cycling shoes still on.
However, as responsible cyclists, this relationship (like the one with your health insurance company who just seems to take your money without ever really helping you) is absolutely necessary. Cycling has excellent health benefits but its repetitive motions can make some muscles overused and some under-used, like your back which is always in the same crouched position and especially quads. I’m no expert, but you can read more about how foam rolling really helps here. Our friend Sofi from San Francisco created a great how-to guide here but if you prefer a video, this one's pretty good!
Back to the point, your foam roller is not a puppy and will not love you unconditionally. However with everyday use, keeping it free of dust-bunnies and out of the give-away pile, and limiting the under-your-breath cursing at it to a minimum you and your foam roller can live a long and happy life free from muscle knots and injury.