Your body will always tell you what it needs, both physically and emotionally. We just don’t always hear it. When you start actively listening—and conscientiously pay attention to and start to serve those needs—things begin to change. Self-care is so much bigger than products—it’s a fully holistic experience of yourself. How do you feel when you’re in pain? Perhaps you are trying to hike 2000 miles (or even just 1 mile) with Plantar Fasciitis... maybe you have shooting pain in your back or your hips or anywhere else day after day... how does that make you feel on the inside? It’s emotionally taxing. And you suffer. The same is true with non-physical pain. When you ignore an emotion like sadness, or tell yourself “I don’t deserve that” or “I’m not good enough”—your body feels depleted. Your energy is low. You don’t get satisfaction out of simple pleasures. There is no joy. But when you perform acts of kindness for yourself, things start to change. You CAN relieve your physical pain. You CAN improve your mobility. You CAN heal the internal wounds caused by emotional traumas in your life. It’s ALL possible. You just need to listen and stop resisting. - Marek, Founder and Chief of Service
Backpacking and Hiking
Every day, I talk to hikers about the pain they experience on the trail. From wearing an uncomfortable pack to shoes being too small or too big, backpacking and hiking can be strenuous on our bodies. Self-care is critical before, during and after a hike.
Self-Care Before Your Hike
Before your hike, consider your gear and if it's appropriate for you / meets your needs. When you purchase gear just because it's "on sale" or the cheapest option, you may not realize the implications it can mean for your body. I hiked with a backpack that was too big for my body and my hips and shoulders let me know about 1 mile into my 18 mile backpacking trip. Needless to say, it was rough. In addition to selecting the right gear for my body, I also always pack a self-massage tool (I mean, that's why Rawlogy is in business, right?). I typically pack 1 or 2 cork massage balls to take on my hiking and backpacking trips so I am prepared to roll out during and immediately afterwards.
Self-Care During Your Hike
That leads me nicely into self-care during your hike. When you are backpacking or hiking, have a dialog with yourself. Check in with your body with a scan starting at your toes and working your way up. Are there any warning lights on? You don't want to ignore these, because yellow warning lights easily become red emergency lights. This applies especially to anything that could cause a critical failure (i.e. dizziness, trouble breathing, seeing spots). If you find yellow warning lights come on for muscular fatigue and tightness, you can pull out your self-massage tool and work out some of the tension right there on the trail.
Self-Care After Your Hike
Once your backpack is off and you're relaxing, it's time to do some serious self-care work. Why? So you can get back out there, of course! The goal is to keep your muscles and tissue supple and flexible, so that you can prevent injury and build strength. Again, I always pull out my cork massage ball after a hike and roll out key areas like feet (to prevent Plantar Fasciitis), IT Bands (to prevent knee pain), calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, hips, back, chest, shoulders and neck.
Thru Hiking (Pacific Crest Trail-PCT, Appalachian Trail-AT, Continental Divide Trail-CDT, etc.)
Ok, this is a whole new level of backpacking and, most certainly, requires a tremendous amount of self-care to maintain the body for 2000+ miles. Rawlogy balls are designed to be ultra-lightweight and compact, which means they're perfect for a thru hiker's backpack. Now, you just need to use them! During my thru hiker outreach and rolling workshops, and hear the same issues again and again:
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Sore knees
- Hip pain
- Stiff or pinched back
- Shoulder pain
- Stiff neck
A thru hiker's diligent self-care practice should be able to pick up on these issues before they become a major problem (which could result in an Urgent Care visit or even worse, leaving trail). Sure, there are problems we can't tackle with a massage ball (like a broken bone), but many of these issues are preventable and can be treated with rest, ice and self-massage.
Other Endurance Activities
If you are a:
- Trail runner
or any other endurance athlete, I guarantee that there is some part of your body that could use self-care. First of all, you need fortitude to do any of these activities. Which means performing self-care mentally and emotionally is crucial to your success. Check in with your mind when you're preparing yourself and taking part in these activities. How do you feel? Are you awakened inside? Do you feel alive? Then, check in with your body. Look at your system as a whole--mind AND body. Take your massage balls with you and roll out if you need to. If you're a runner, take a 1 minute break and roll out those calves. A climber? Use a massage ball to roll out your forearms and chest. Cyclists--step off the bike and roll out your glutes, quads and hamstrings.