I’m sure by now you’ve either used one yourself or seen these long or short cylinders, they are most often blue. You would have most likely seen them at physio, chiro, in the gym, Pilates or even watching sportspeople train or play.
They are being rolled onto various parts of the body and are often accompanied by funny facial expressions or noises, as the foam roller reaches an area of discomfort!
The Benefits Of Foam Rolling Are Endless, But Here Are Just Some Of The Many Benefits Listed For You:
- core and functional strength;
- flexibility and mobility;
- movement preparation;
- faster recovery from physical activity including faster injury rehabilitation;
- regeneration of soft tissue and collagen; anti-ageing and the breakdown of scar tissue;
- musculoskeletal imbalances by removing asymmetries and scoliosis;
- Carpal Tunnel;
- detoxification from metabolic wastes and environmental toxins;
- reducing pain, including. Myofascial pain, Growing Pains, Fibromyalgia, PMR (Polymyalgia Rheumatica);
- sleep; especially vital REM sleep;
- reduction of stress and anxiety (especially during exam times for students or sporting performance or from work);
- the releasing of emotions (as the fascial system is believed to hold emotions);
- mental clarity; and
- Immune System.
Today, I’d like to focus on how foam rolling can enhance your immune system.
But before we talk about how foam rolling can help the immune system, we need to talk briefly about fascia.
“A fascia (/ˈfæʃə/, /ˈfæʃiə/; plural fasciae /ˈfæʃᵻ.i/; adjective fascial; from Latin: “band”) is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.
Fascia is classified by layer, as superficial fascia, deep fascia, and visceral or parietal fascia, or by its function and anatomical location.” – Source Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascia
Fascia is a matrix or cells, consisting mostly of collagen, however, it also contains immune cells which create and repair the matrix.
The Lymphatic System
At the cellular level, fascia assists in respiration and elimination of wastes, which helps our body’s immune system and does this mostly through the lymphatic system.
“The lymphatic system follows the fascial system. Fascia has an essential role in hemodynamic and biochemical processes, and provides the matrix that allows for intercellular communication. After injury, it is the fascia that creates an environment for tissue repair.” – Dr. Jeffrey Tucker
Therefore, maintaining healthy fascia will in turn allow the lymphatic system to process waste products effectively.
To help the lymphatic system process waste within the body, good posture is crucial to allow for less restrictions within the body’s processes and it couldn’t be said better than Dr. Roger Sperry, 1980 Nobel Prize for Brain Research:
“Better than 90 percent of the energy output of the brain is used in relating the physical body in its gravitational field. The more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy is available for thinking, metabolism, and healing [the immune system]”.
Now I can hear you already asking: How do I maintain healthy fascia?
To maintain healthy fascia, we need to work on improving the quality of our soft tissue and one part of this is through movement and massage. I prefer massage first, followed by movement. Ideally this needs to be done daily, like flossing your teeth.
My dentist once said to me years ago:
“You only need to floss the teeth that you want to keep!”
I now say, that:
“You only need to roll the muscles that you want to keep!”
Foam rolling is to muscles and fascia, what flossing is to your teeth and opening up the spaces between your teeth and not letting food build up around them.
Similarly, foam rolling removes the build-up of the fascial fibres which get thick, disorganised and stuck around the muscles, which allows for better gliding of the soft tissue structures as they move and rub against each other.
Now, if you can afford to get a daily massage then that’s brilliant and I encourage you to continue do so. However, not everyone can afford a massage daily, weekly or even monthly!
So the next best option is foam rolling and is the best way that I’ve found to maintain healthy soft tissue i.e. fascia.
Once you’ve learnt to foam roll correctly and safely, with no pain; foam rolling can be done daily and even multiple times per day, anywhere and at any time and for a fraction of the cost of massage.
It will enable you to get more out of your hands-on massage by being able to go deeper with the hands on approach and will help you to maintain healthy fascia in between your massage, so that restrictions and blockages within the soft tissue, doesn’t build up to being a bigger problem through the ongoing self-maintenance.
If you’re a massage therapist and you’re reading this; no I’m not trying to send you broke!
In fact, as a massage therapist who cares about your clients, you want to do everything that you can to help them in between massages and you want to be able to empower your clients to better manage their own bodies.
People will always like and need a hands on massage and foam rolling is just another part of the fascial matrix and I encourage you to come learn what I do and start doing the same with your clients!
How Do I Foam Roll Correctly, Safely & Pain Free?
Well, using my patent pending 3-in-1 foam roller, The MoveBetterRoller™ which is the only full length foam roller that is fully portable and comes with a piece of wooden dowel which acts as a connector of the 2 sub foam rollers, but it also doubles as a third mini roller for areas like the feet and hands.
The 3-in-1 MoveBetterRoller™
The feet are the very first place that I go to when foam rolling, to begin to maintain healthy fascia. Yes, the feet…and NO, not the ITB (iliotibial band). In fact, the ITB is often the LAST place that I go to when foam rolling, however that’s a discussion for another time!
The feet contain the plantar fascia and you may have heard or even had it in the past, plantar fasciitis? Which is a condition whereby the plantar fascia is inflamed and often very painful.
The plantar fascia is actually connected to every bit of fascia right throughout your body; even to the fascia throughout your organs and down to the fascia which connects to your bone. So it’s a great place to start in my experience, as it pre-releases the global fascial network globally throughout your body.
FREE Exercise Tip To start Enhancing Your Immune System
Grab yourself a MoveBetterRoller™ and use the wooden dowel connector, or cut off a piece of dowel from your broomstick, or even find a pvc tube, at least 30 mm in diameter and about 150 mm in length and follow these steps to get you started to healthy fascia.
1. Test: Before you start foam rolling, please try an overhead squat and do 3 repetitions and notice how far down you go and where you feel tension or restriction. Stop at the first sign of pain or discomfort.
2. Stand with the dowel in between both feet, but not touching any foot.
3. SLOWLY roll the length of the first foot and stop where you feel discomfort or no more than 7/10 of intensity and then hold the pressure on that spot until the pressure/discomfort reduces or goes away. Do this for a minimum of 3-5 min or until the opposite foot that you’re standing on gets tired.
4. Immediately after rolling the first foot, repeat your overhead squats to notice if there is any change in how you feel or any improvement in range of motion and make note of it.
5. Continue to roll the other foot in the same way. Notice is there’s any difference in the pressure from one foot to the other. If one foot is tighter than the other, then roll the tighter one again.
6. Repeat the squat test after rolling both feet and make note of how you feel and if there has been any change in how you feel or improved range of motion.
It would be great if you could try this exercise and video/photograph yourself before and after squat and show me the changes that you have received by doing this one exercise! I’m sure that you’ll be amazed at the difference.
Remember, working on your overall fascial network, improves overall flexibility and mobility and assists in taking pressure off the fascial network and helps flush the Lymphatic System and, hence, supports a healthy immune system.
If you would like more information on foam rolling or the MoveBetterRoller™, please get in touch with me and if you’re in Sydney, Australia and would like to experience one of my foam rolling classes for FREE, please let me know.
Inventor of The MoveBetterRoller™ – the only fully portable full length foam roller.
Move Better. Play Better. Live Better.
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Angelo Castiglione – Movement Specialist