What is Fascia?
Fascia is a structure of connective tissue that surrounds and passes through muscles, bones, and organs all over our body. You can think of fascia as a sheath that is sometimes wafer-thin or a few millimeters thick. With high-resolution ultrasound devices, you can visualize these structures.
Researchers found that fascia includes sensory functions as well. On the one hand, fascia stabilizes our musculoskeletal system, and on the other hand, it keeps us mobile and flexible. Fascia can also cause pain when it cannot glide properly but sticks together.
Fascia and the Lymphatic System
Similar to other tissues of our body, fascia is scattered with blood and lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic fluid removes carbon dioxide (CO2) and metabolic waste products from the cells and supplies the cells with oxygen (O2) and nutrients. The more muscle activity, the more lymph fluid can be removed. Fascia around the muscles can become tighter, for example when you are not moving enough. Thus, the supply of nutrients, oxygen, and the removal of CO2 and harmful substances no longer work properly. Water makes fascia move and glide. Therefore, hydration and a sufficient water balance also support the function of your fascia.
Click here for more information about the lymphatic system and how it works.
How to Integrate Foam Rolling into Your Exercise Program
Before getting started, you should talk to your healthcare professional to see if foam rolling is suitable for your lymphoedema and lipoedema. Foam rollers are available in different degrees of hardness. Make sure that you start with a soft foam roller as the exercises can feel painful at the beginning. Ask your healthcare professional to show you some exercises and learn what to pay attention to. You can integrate foam rolling into your exercise plan as soon as you are familiar with the exercises. Regular training can support your flexibility, prevent injuries, and reduce pain and muscle tensions.
Here are a few exercises to start with:
- Lie down on your back with the foam roller positioned underneath your upper back. Bent your knees and position your feet flat on the floor. Your arms are crossed in front of your chest.
- Lift yourself up into a bridge position.
- Slowly roll up and down between your shoulders and mid-back. Make sure that your head and neck are always in line with your back.
- Do this for about 30 seconds and repeat the exercise after a short break for about two or three times.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended and place the foam roller underneath your calves.
- Lift your body up a little bit so that your weight is resting on the foam roller.
- Slowly roll your calves back and forth on the foam roller.
- Complete this exercise again for about 30 seconds and repeat it after a short break for about two or three times
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Claudia Lymphoedema patient