I wrote about foam rolling recently (“Why You Should Foam Roll Every Day”, October 23, 2019) so you might be asking why I’m back on this subject again.
The reason is that someone very close to me had surgery recently due to lymphatic problems, and I just found out that foam rolling is also a method to drain the lymphatic system.
I wrote about lymphatic drainage on May 18, 2017 (“Unclogging One’s Lymphatic System”) but did not know that foam rolling could also be used to this end.
As you know from the October 23, 2019 post, foam rolling is one of the most dependable ways to relieve muscle soreness, get myofascial release, and help with flexibility. Another benefit, apparently, is that foam rolling helps with lymphatic drainage, which means that fluid buildup around your fascia gets broken up, allowing you to move better. Don’t forget the benefits listed in the May 18, 2017 post, which are very important.
The network of lymph is directly connected to the fascia, which sits right underneath the skin. This vast network of connective tissue surrounds and stabilizes all muscles, organs, joints, and bones, and plays an important part in the internal health of our bodies. With everyday stressors, however, our bodies can experience a stagnation of the lymphatic fluid along with inflammation in the body, which is where foam rolling comes in. Foam rolling oxygenates the blood, which will hydrate the fascia, activate your lymphatic system, and help create movement and flush out the buildup.
The good news is that you don’t have to change how you usually do foam rolling to reap the benefits of lymphatic drainage. This happens naturally with the pressure you’re applying. When you foam roll, you relax the muscle tension, you activate your lymphatic system, and you reduce pain and soreness.
There are certain factors that’ll up the lymphatic drainage benefits of foam rolling even more.
- Roll from the bottom up. You want to push everything up from your feet. Start with the bottom of the body and work upwards. It can be hard to foam roll your feet, so use a tennis ball for this. You should roll from your ankles to your knees, then to your hip joint, then the upper body; all towards the heart. This will help with the distribution of lymph throughout the body.
- Don’t forget key areas. It can be tempting to rush through the rolling sequences, but make sure to hit the nooks and crannies of the body. Especially ones like the hips, shoulders and neck, which can get very tight. A good suggestion is to roll the side of your neck to your shoulders. You will probably need a small roller for this.
- Try a textured foam roller. You can use any type of foam roller, but the kind with tiny bumps or patterns on them will mimic the fingers of a masseuse more than a flat roller. Vibrating foam rollers work well too, as they will help ease the pain that comes along with rolling out tension, while also manipulating the lymph to help get things moving.
That’s it for now friends; see you all the next time.