I am not alone in this either. Foam rollers have been around for awhile. You can even get them at Wal-Marts these days. Nevertheless I tried it for the first time just a few months ago.
Among my other loves is Thai Yoga Massage (http://www.lotuspalm.com/thai_yoga_massage.asp) but the knots in my muscles, specifically my legs and especially in my calves, were so big and tight that I was not receiving the full benefit of the massage. It is hard to have a deep tissue massage when any pressure on your tissue is too painful to endure.
It was after a difficult massage that I was introduced to the foam roller. Fifteen minutes later the tension in my legs, which is where I tend to store it, was greatly reduced and the big, hard knots had broken up a little. Since then I have been doing a leg routine (see below) almost daily and the difference is significant.
Foam rolling is a form of self-massage or myofacial release that has been found to greatly improve muscle and tendon tension, as well as breaking up knots and scar tissue. It does not replace massage but sure augments it. Now that I have added it to my routine I am finding the benefits are everywhere. Of course I can have massages now without it being painful but I also find it easier to get to sleep with more relaxed legs. The first time I went for a jog immediately after foam rolling was shocking. It was like having new leg muscles. Usually no amount of stretching before a run gets me loose enough to avoid a slow start until my stride feels long and comfortable. But after foam rolling I was there immediately. My run was so fast and easy I have to add some distance to feel like I am working as hard.
My Legs Routine
You may need to go a little slower at first and I won’t lie to you, at the beginning there are spots where it will hurt a lot. But it is worth it.
The IT Bands
Take your time in the beginning and work those painful spots. Stop on them and rock back and forth as best you can. If you cannot put all your weight on it right away work up to it. Trust me you will enjoy it after just a short time.