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……
You can read the FULL version of this article in our quarterly eZine, ‘Holistic Living Magazine,’ look for Edition 5 on this archive page. There’s many more articles about the immune system waiting for you too!
Angelo Castiglione – Movement Specialist