Tennis balls, to be precise.

tennis ball

sports rehab muscle tension equipment – tennis ball to you

It turns out they are brilliant for pounding away at those tight spots which cause muscles to spasm. I highly recommend. Apparently squash balls are even more effective.

So while I am pretty much welded to my roller, to knock out the ITB area tightness, for those hard-to-reach spots, you can’t beat a tennis ball.

I’ve discovered knots of tension all down the sides of the muscles running from my hip to my knees. back and front. Inside and outside the leg.

My most annoyingly persistent tense spots are on the outside of each knee, but my roller is great for the back of my hip and round the sides.

roller and tennis ball

Tension tacking combo kit

I woke up at 4.30am this morning with my hip niggling so I’ve been up an hour rollering myself. I know, ridiculously early, but there’s nothing more irritating than trying to get comfortable with muscles spasming themselves stupid, right, left and centre. And it’s not much fun for MrM, having me toss and turn while he’s trying to sleep/do an impression of an unconscious walrus/wake the street with his snoring.

Of course there’s always someone wanting attention…

fifi the cat

you try to roller – she wants her morning cuddle


20 days

It’s been 20 days since my last run. Nearly three weeks. it feels like much longer.

I’m hoping (not hopping) I’ll be back out there tomorrow. I tried running for a bus the other day and breaking out into a gentle trot did not make my thigh muscle tighten with such force it felt like a crochet needle had yanked it up and out.

My ITB, hip muscle tightness thing got too much back on June 10. Walking became naggingly painful, never mind running. Running seemed beyond possibility.

And so I began and continue to practice a series of exercise designed to stretch and strengthen by lack-lustre leg muscles. And so I have become every so slightly obsessed with clams, squats and a handful of pilates-style movements which require an extraordinary amount of focus.

All diagnosed by running trainer, Adam, who has also been putting me through my paces in the gym. This week I’ve been wobbling on a bosu ball while pushing up dumb bells, wobbling on a bosu ball while doing leg raises, wobbling on a bosu ball while doing squats… you get the plot. The idea is to work my core while I try to balance and do other things. It works. I can feel my stomach muscles twitching while I try to not topple off.

But in other news, what else have I been doing? Our university launched Bolton’s first Arts Festival which ran for five days but started with our creative degree show.

waiting for the show to start

Hundreds pack the SLZ, waiting for the Arts festival to be officially launched

Tuk Tuk by Aimee Coffey

Art takes all shapes

Textile Surface Design

I especially like textile surface design’s show – always gorgeous

textile surface design

Bit of detail from the frock above

cars on fabric

I’d wear this – with a vest underneath, of course

I’ve been working like the dog in a Hard Day’s Night, but there’s no pictures of that because it’s all a bit dull.

I did have a day off last Monday, walked up to Didsbury and bought an Ernest Hemingway book about living in Paris, which I am enjoying a great deal. And, for a change, it wasn’t raining. it’s been raining a lot.

Look not raining

Look, not raining!

Simons Bridge, Didsbury

Holiday by Chanel

Painting my nails

For the want of something to do I painted my nails this cheery shade of scarlet-orange which is called Holiday if you fancy it. I like Chanel polish, beautiful colours with a tasteful finish when they dry. None of that disco twink.

Jo and baby Rebecca

Jo and baby Rebecca

And yesterday I went to see my colleague’s first baby, Rebecca. Who apparently sleeps all day and is awake all night – sounds like she’s a teenager already, but she’s just over three weeks old – just a bit older than my nagging hip, ITB injury thing.

A begrudging Grid fan

It pains me to say it as much as it pains me to use it, but the grid seems to be working.

Every evening I dutifully roll about the sitting room floor, pulling faces and swearing like a sailor as I attempt to roll out those knots in my muscles. I count to 10 or more on the worst bits, holding it there as long as I can.

I have noticed it’s less agonising in some areas now, but that might just be my pain threshold’s improving.

Runner’s World rate it as a Top 40 good thing, I think it came in at no 32 in a feature in the May edition. And it was recommended by the bloke at Sweatshop.

Will I ever get to love something that inflicts pain so I can carry on running? Probably.

The good, the bad and the orange

Meet the new toy, tried and tested after a warm bath last night while watching first episode of second-series detective drama on ITV, which incidentally was very good.

Not that I’m here to review tele (but Scott & Bailey is well worth watching) I’m here to tell you all about this new chappie – Mr 40 quid: The Grid. Here he is:

The Grid

Behold - The Grid

Looks like a big cheesy wotsit doesn’t it. It’s pretty much like a foam roller but it won’t lose its shape and it has two roles. Not only can you use it like a massage roller but you can use it as part of your core workouts.

My primary goal with it is to pummel seven shades out of muscles and running niggles – ‘take that ITB syndrome, gotcha piriformis’ – you get my drift.

The flat bits and nobble are supposed to replicate massage techniques.

The grid: palming

Low and flat: like a palm

So the picture above shows the part of it that is supposed to replicate a palm or forearm, and of course if you’re sitting on it, that’s some pressure you’re rolling about.

The grid

The grid: fingers and thumb - medium

Above is its medium setting which is supposed to be like whole fingers and a thumb. You get it, don’t you? And finally, for masochists everywhere… the equivalent of finger tips.

The grid: finger tips

Firm: the Grid's 'finger tips'

Easy to use? Yes it is. The woman in the pictures on the instruction leaflet looks all graceful and relaxed, which I wasn’t as I trundled about the sitting room on it. But I can do it and I can aspire to be Mrs Elegance.

The Grid comes with its own story about how it was invented by a personal trainer and how he invented it after he was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It comes with a host of celebrity triathlete endorsements and the people do exist (I checked).

My hamstrings were murder yesterday, today they were still tight so it’s not a wonder treatment. But I’m going to persevere with it.

The bloke in the shop said to take it steady to start as I’d end up bruised otherwise. Clearly he’s never had a sports massage, or he’s been for wossy ones. I’m a regular at our uni’s sports and spinal injuries place – bruising is complimentary and to be honest, expected. It doesn’t have an elbow setting either, which I regularly get rammed into my piriformis. Or chat. I like the chat, it distracts from the pain. But I can use it every day and let’s face it, I’m not going to easily lose it, am I.

ITB gets a kicking, well a pummelling

‘Is that too much pressure?’ asked Rebecca as she leant into my ITB with her elbow, causing me to do the silent screaming thing while, of course, saying ‘No, that’s ok,’ because I’m hard, right? I’m a runner, right? Tough. Determined. Rock hard.

Thing is, Rebecca is used to working on Wigan Athletics players. And I tell you something, they’re tougher than me. Sports massage is NOT like girly beauty parlour massage. Not that I’m complaining but if you’re going the sports massage route, be aware, it’s not an easy ride. You feel less like you’ve been to nirvana and more like you’ve done a couple of rounds of kickboxing sparring. And take it from me, I was a blue belt lau gar girl in my Thirties (knees, darlings; kicking at bodies with hyper-extension in one’s joint – not ideal three nights a week, as it turns out).

To try to sort out my ITB niggle I’m seeing the Sports and Spinal Injury Clinic people at the Uni where I work. The clinic is open to everyone and sports rehab students, like Rebecca, get profession experience working in there, supervised by fully trained staff. They watch the tricky stuff, but the sports massage, they’re hands on. They go off to get experience on ‘real muscles’ as I put it, but they also get to sort out wimps like me.

I just about survived my 45 minutes of ITB loosening and got my calves lightly pummelled for good measure.

The jury is out as to whether sports massage has done the trick, let’s just say I’m a little tender. But I’m signed up for another session in two weeks – no doubt I’ll have more to say on the subject. I usually do 😉