Please ask for a taste of this work when you come in for an appointment
with Suzanne Newman, LMT Gotcher’ Back Therapeutic Massage. This is mind blowing!
There are no emotional things you can not work through if you do not give up!
Book an Appointment today! 609-647-0049
It has taken quite some time, but oil pulling has finally gained some popularity in the United States.
Used primarily in Ayurvedic medicine, oil pulling is a fantastic oral detoxification procedure that is simply done by swishing a tablespoon of oil (typically coconut oil, olive or sesame oil) in your mouth for 10-20 minutes.
Oil pulling works by cleaning (detoxifying) the oral cavity in a similar way that soap cleans dirty dishes. It literally sucks the dirt (toxins) out of your mouth and creates a clean, antiseptic oral environment that contributes to the proper flow of dental liquid that is needed to prevent cavities and disease.
This unbelievably effective procedure has been used for centuries as a traditional India remedy to:
Most of us cannot even imagine what life would be like without brushing and flossing our teeth everyday. However, in the scheme of things, tooth brushing is relatively, new since nylon bristle toothbrushes didn’t become part of our normal American experience until the late 1930s!
It’s important to remember that, in spite of the fact that most people in American today were all raised with toothbrushes in our mouths, our ancestors didn’t brush their teeth with toothpaste for thousands of years. And, as far as archeological evidence Pyramides of Gizeh – Cairo, Egyptsuggests, most people throughout history lived until a ripe old age with most of their teeth intact and in a strong, healthy state.
Why didn’t their teeth rot?
Well, first of all, they ate real food and didn’t consume processed sugars and grains filled with phytic acid, which destroy tooth enamel. Secondly, they took care of their teeth through natural means like chew sticks that they rubbed against the teeth as has been found in Egyptian tombs dating to 3000 B.C. Third, depending on the culture and region of the world, many people also oil pulled.
Oil Pulling Research
coconut oil jarBy now, you’ve probably heard of the phrase “oil pulling.” Not quite a household name just yet, people in natural health circles are adopting the procedure as part of their daily regimen by the droves because of the hype that is being placed on it about it lately on the Internet.
To date, there are just 7 oil pulling research studies reporting on the health benefits of oil pulling. Although it is unfortunate that science has taken so long to take this ancient art seriously, it IS encouraging to see the literature database grow. I’m excited to read more as researchers catch on to how oil pulling can help transform someone’s life.
The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, for example, recently highlighted a study that reviewed holistic approaches to oral health and discovered that oil pulling is one of the most effective natural health solutions known to scientists that prevent tooth decay and loss. (1) Praised for curing more than 30 systemic diseases, the authors of this study have some profound things to say about this ancient natural healing practice:
“Oil pulling is a powerful detoxifying Ayurvedic technique that has recently become very popular as a CAM remedy for many different health ailments. Using this method, surgery or medication could be prevented for a number of chronic illnesses. The oil therapy is preventative as well as curative. The exciting aspect of this healing method is its simplicity.
Ayurveda advises oil gargling to purify the entire system; as it holds that each section of the tongue is connected to different organ such as to the kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, small intestines, stomach, colon, and spine, similarly to reflexology and TCM. (1)”
I really like this passage because it highlights how the detoxification effect that oil pulling has on the entire body reaches far beyond oral health. This is especially important for people who have conditions that contraindicate brushing such as mouth ulcer, fever, indigestion, those who have tendency to vomit, have asthma, cough, or thirst. (2)
In addition, I found these three studies showing how sesame seed oil pulling affects a wide range of oral health issues particularly helpful as I considered making it a part of my natural health regimen:dental hygiene
According to researchers from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in Tamil Nadu, India, oil pulling reduces Streptococcus mutans bacteria – a significant contributor to tooth decay – in the plaque and saliva of children. (3) In the authors’ words, “Oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health.”
As uncovered by researchers from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in Chennai India, oil pulling can significantly reduced aerobic microorganisms in plaque among children with plaque-induced gingivitis. (4)
From the same researchers in Chennai, oil pulling has been shown to be as effective as mouthwash at improving bad breath and reducing the microorganisms that may cause it. (5)
Why Coconut Oil is the Best Oil to Use
One important note to make is that the studies I referenced above only tested the effects that sesame seed oil had on patients who oil pulled. Being a staple in India, it’s no wonder why many Ayurvedic medicinal practitioners would naturally gravitate toward sesame. However, I would like to suggest using coconut oil instead.
Why?coconut oil on wooden spoon
Because coconut oil has been shown to:
Decrease Wrinkles and Age Spots
Balance Blood Sugar and Improve Energy
Increase HDL and Lower LDL Cholesterol
Because it is highly absorbable, you can experience many of these benefits simply by oil pulling!
Coconut Oil Pulling: How-To
This is how I like to do coconut oil pulling:
Make sure to oil pull first thing in the morning right after you get out of bed before you brush your teeth or drink anything.
Gently swish 1 – 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth and between your teeth for 10-20 minutes making sure that you don’t swallow any of the oil. (Do this gently so you don’t wear out your jaw and cheeks!)
Spit out the oil in the trash (not the sink so it doesn’t clog up the plumbing…ask me how I know) and immediately rinse your mouth out with warm water (use salt water for added antimicrobial properties).
Finally, brush your teeth as normal.
Voila, easy as that!
I recommend oil pulling 3-4x per week with coconut oil and also adding essential oils to your mixture.
Coconut Oil Pulling Guide
As you can see, oil pulling with coconut oil is a simple procedure with very effective results. If 10-20 minutes sounds like a long time simply do oil pulling while in the shower or while driving to work in the morning or while doing work around the house to help pass the time.
Here’s a Quick “How-to” Coconut Oil Pulling Video Demonstration:
Next I want to share with you how you can use essential oils to take your oil pulling benefits to a whole new level!
Essential oil and mint on green background close-upCoconut Oil Pulling with Essential Oils
Essential oils carry some of the most potent antibacterial and anti-fungal properties on the planet, and they can easy, and safely enhance the oil pulling experience. Additionally, as essential oils absorb into your oral mucosa, your body will enjoy the antioxidant and medicinal powers inherent in these potent compounds.
Here are two of my favorite ways to use essential oils during my morning oil pulling routine:
For everyday use: add 3 drops of wild orange, lemon and peppermint with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
When battling an infection or sickness: Change it up a bit and mix clove oil, cinnamon oil, or tea tree oil as a homeopathic remedy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s):
1. What age is good for oil pulling?
Sure! Since the oil swished around in the mouth and spit out, then there should be no harm in oil pulling even at a young age. Try a smaller amount of oil though, say about 1/2-1 teaspoon. You would want to make sure they are able to comfortably and it should be an enjoyable experience, not a dreaded one. If they don’t like it, and they need healing for their teeth, then I would focus on adjusting their diet to heal cavities naturally.
2. Can I pull oil if I have fillings?
According to the Coconut Research Center (6),
“Oil pulling will not and cannot loosen properly placed crowns or fillings. The only time oil pulling will affect crowns or fillings is if the teeth underneath have decayed and are full of infection. In this case, the foundation on which the crowns or fillings are secured to is badly decayed and unable to hold the dental material. Oil pulling removes bacteria, pus, and mucus. It cannot pull out porcelain, amalgam, or composite dental materials from the teeth.”
The only reason that a filling will become loose is if you have a rot or infection in the tooth. Then you will want to address this issue to keep the infection from spreading to your body.
3. Why do I have to oil pull in the morning?
You don’t. The best time to oil pull is in the morning on an empty stomach, but you can certainly try other times during the day or before eating.
4. Why do I have to oil pull for so long?
When you oil pull, you are actually using up the oil in the process of swishing the oil. It will become watery and sometimes milky after about 15 minutes. If you pull with less oil you may notice it change texture sooner, but you want to make sure you have enough oil to really clean your mouth and teeth.
5. How long does it take to see a difference with my teeth and mouth?
Within one week, most people notice a cleaner mouth and change in their breath. Within a month, some people have experienced dental repair or healthier gums.
6. Are there oil pulling side effects or symptoms?
– Every person is different. For some people they may have a release of mucous in their throat or nose as the swishing can release your sinuses and cause drainage. This is harmless, but if it is uncomfortable to you, then you may want to blow your nose before oil pulling.
– Also some people experience jaw soreness. If this happens, try swishing more gently and don’t pull between your teeth as hard, or maybe cut back a few minutes down to 8-10 minutes, and then build back up once you get adjusted to this exercise.
– Occasionally, oil pulling can trigger the gag reflex in some people. If this happens, then try leaning your head forward just slightly and using a little bit less oil. Also warming the oil a little can make it thinner and less likely to cause any gagging.
7. Can I oil pull while pregnant?
Because you spit out the toxins that are “pulled” out when swishing, there should not be any harm in oil pulling while pregnant. In fact, it can be a soothing way to clean your teeth if you experience any gum sensitivity.
I personally use the Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil found here.
When you try coconut oil pulling, let me know what you think? Do you have any essential oils that you like?
You would think ouch! Right? Not at all, without any doubt cupping therapy has been a life saver for me. I would say nothing can go deeper into a tight muscle thanking what I call drag cupping which you can see the cups below. These cups are made out of silicone or the cupping you see over to our left in the picture. Please feel free to call me to tell you the wonderful benefits of cupping therapy today at 609.647.0049
Cupping Therapy, Cups made out of silicone
Cupping therapy is a process of suctioning or vacuuming sections of the body’s meridian system for the purpose of drawing out toxins, pain management, increasing blood flow, relaxation, and promoting a healthier flow of chi energies.
Often attributed to the Chinese the origins of cupping unknown. The practice of cupping has been noted through ancient Egypt, Greece, by Native Americans, and throughout Europe.
Using cupping as a therapy was first documented in writings by Chinese alchemist Ge Hong. As a result, cupping is sometimes called Chinese Cupping Therapy. Certainly, the Chinese have used cupping therapy extensively, it is categorized as a treatment within the TMC (Traditional Chinese Medicine), system of Eastern healing.
Cupping Therapy Complements Massage and Acupuncture
The massage therapist or acupuncturist will apply massage oil or baby oil to your skin prior to placement of the cups. The air inside each cup is heated with a flame prior to placing the cup upside down directly onto the skin. As a result, a suction sensation occurs and attaches to the body. The cups are left on the body for a few minutes.
Typically, the cups are placed on the client’s back, but they are sometimes positioned on other parts of the body such as the stomach, thighs, and neck.
Circular welt marks and purplish discolorations, an effect of the air pressure, could remain on the skin for up to fifteen days following your treatment.
Traditional VS Modern Day Cups
Traditional cups used in cupping therapy are made of glass or bamboo, also hollowed out animal horns. Today, there are a variety of cupping sets on the market, primarily made of glass or plastic. They incorporate the use of magnets and a vacuum pump and magnets in leu of using a flame.
The practice of using silicone cups is called baguanfa.
Ailments Treated by Cupping Therapy Include:
Turn Your Life Around! 5 Minutes of CUPPING = 30 Minutes of Deep Tissue Massage. Healthy Natural Alternative to prescription pain relievers. Activate lymphatic system, detox your body, improve respiratory function, reduce hypertension.
MAXIMUM RESULTS with MINIMUM EFFORT: Say Good-Bye to: all types of muscle & joint pain, inflammation, arthritis, fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Muscular aches and pains, Sciatica and back pain and shoulder tension and our favorite, stress, scars, spider veins, improve digestive function, use for post op recovery, physical therapy and much much more!
La REBELLE- Kelly Vance: Owner, Rebel Hair Stylist
I am so pleased to be working with Kelly, she is a incredible stylist, warm and welcoming and a real class act! Please book an appointment with her and I am sure she’ll be you new hair stylist. It’s so wonderful to work with someone so wonderful!
Kelly is Located on Route 206 in Princeton, a few doors down from town favorite Lucy’s Ravioli, La Rebelle boutique hair salon is a cozy oasis for relaxing experience. Our mission is rooted in the value of client relationships and quality hair services. Owner, Kelly Vance, continues to refresh her education at Vidal Sassoon schools around the world to remain on the cutting edge of current trends. Women and men of any age can expect professional quality hair care, children and young adults are welcome.
La Rebelle operates by appointment only, open seven days a week. Offering hair cuts, color & highlights and Keratin treatments. Coming soon: Hair Extensions.
Kelly Vance: Owner, Rebel Stylist
Kelly’s philosophy is modeled after the theory applied in Vidal Sassoon: She considers the individual’s unique features and needs first when approaching their cut and color. Her reputation can be expressed by her loyal clients, some of which started with her at age 5 and still continue visiting through their mid-twenties. For new clients, she believes in thorough consultations before the first snip. Kelly’s has 19 years of experience in work and hair care education.
Continuing Education: Over a dozen comprehensive courses through Vidal Sassoon schools in London, Miami, Santa Monica. Courses at Toni & Guy and Bumble & Bumble for specialty techniques.
Certified to perform Keratin treatments by Keratin Complex.
Work Experience: Metropolis • Princeton, NJ Koi Salon • Princeton, NJ
The Amazing Kinesio Taping® Suzanne Newman Gotcher’ Back Massage Therapy
I am amazed at the results I am getting with my clients as much as they are. This is truly fascinating relieving pain and edema so quickly in most cases. The Tape is water proof so it can stay on up to 5 days. The increased lymphatic circulation in muscle and joint pain relief is astounding. There is a vast amount that can be done with taping. Please call for an appointment today 609-683-1608.
Kinesio Taping® is a technique based on the body’s own natural healing process. This Kinesio Taping® exhibits its efficacy through the activation of neurological and circulatory systems. This method basically stems from the science of Kinesiology. Hence the name “Kinesio” is used. Muscles are not only attributed to the movements of the body but also control the circulation of venous and lymph flows, body temperature and much more. Therefore, the failure of the muscles to function properly induces various kinds of symptoms in the body.
Consequently, so much attention was given to the importance of muscle function that the idea of treating the muscles in order to activate the body’s own healing process came about. Using an elastic tape, it was discovered that muscles and other tissues could be helped by outside assistance. The use of Kinesio Taping® creates a totally new approach to treating nerves, muscles and organs. The first application of Kinesio Taping® was for a patient with articular disorders.
The first 19 years Kinesio Taping was used by Orthopedists, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists and other medical practitioners, where the main users of Kinesio Taping®. Olympic volleyball players discovered Kinesio Taping® and soon there after the word spread to other athletes. Today Kinesio Taping® is accepted by medical practitioners and athletes.
Muscles constantly extend and contract within a normal range; however, when muscles over extend and over contract and a good example of a muscle in this condition is a person lifting an excessive amount of weight.The muscles can’t recover and becomes inflamed, the fatigue also comes from the muscle being swollen and stiff. The space between the skin and muscle is compressed, resulting in constriction to the flow of lymphatic fluid. The compression also applies pressure to the pain receptors beneath the skin, which in turn communicates,” discomfort signals” to the brain thus the person experiences muscular pain.
Conventional athletic tape is designed to restrict muscle movement of affected muscles and joints.For this purpose, layers of tape are applied around and / or over the injury. This pressure causes a significant obstruction of natural flow of body fluid. This type of tape wrapping is applied before a sport activity and removed immediately when the sport is finished. Kinesio Taping® is based on a different philosophy that aims to give free range of motion in order to allow the body’s muscular system to heal itself bio- mechanically.
To ensure that the muscles have free range of motion, elastic tapes with an elasticity of 130-140% of its original length are recommended for Kinesio Taping®. This specific elasticity also will not allow an over stretch of the muscles themselves. It may look like conventional athletic tape, but tape and Kinesio Taping® is fundamentally different in many ways.
Kinesio Taping® alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. The taped portion forms convolutions in the skin, thus increasing interstitial space. The result is that pressure and irritation are taken off the neural and sensory receptors, alleviating pain. Pressure is gradually taken off the lymphatic system, allowing it to channel more freely.
Mimi Vassilev-Baker, Acupuncturist and owner of The Princeton Day Spa located in Princeton, NJ
Mimi Vassilev-Baker, C.A., M.O.M., Dipl. Ac., is a certified acupuncturist licensed by the NJ Board of Medical Examiners, she is also certified as a Diplomat in Acupuncture by the National Board. She has been appointed by the Governor of NJ to be one of nine members of the state Acupuncture Examining Board. She is also the owner of The Princeton Day spa, a full service spa located here in Princeton NJ.
For eight years, Mimi dedicated her education to the Health Sciences. As an undergraduate at the University of Delaware she received her bachelor degree in Biology and Nutrition.
After experiencing the positive results of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, she enrolled as a graduate student at the National College of Oriental Medicine, where she earned her Master of Oriental Medicine degree, and a second Bachelor degree in Professional Health Studies.
Traveling to China, where she interned at the Shandong University of Integrative Medicine, Mimi witnessed the awesome benefits of combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with 21st century health care.
Mimi treats a wide variety of ailments, and is especially dedicated to treating women’s health disorders, including infertility, painful periods, pms related migraines and menopausal symptoms. Mimi works closely with many patients from various IVF centers throughout NJ. She is currently getting ready to release her statistics from the past 2 years of work with various IVF and ART patients. The results have been astounding.
Homeopathy is an alternative medical system that boosts the individual’s general health, both physically and emotionally. Tailored specifically to each individual’s needs according to their symptoms, lifestyle, as well as their mental and physical health. Homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms and processes so as to prevent or treat illness. Treatment involves giving very small doses of substances called remedies that, according to homeopathy, would produce the same or similar symptoms of illness in healthy people if they were given in larger doses. Conditions treated by homeopathy… but not limited to: Allergies, Anxiety, Arthritis, Asthma, Attention deficit disorder, Autoimmune disorders, Childhood diseases, Chronic fatigue, Depression, Digestive problems, Ear infection, Food intolerance, Gastrointestinal problems, Headaches/migraine, Hyper/hypothyroid, Hyperactivity, Infertility, Insomnia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Menopause symptoms, Obesity, Pre-menstrual disorder, Prolonged & persistent pain, Skin disease, Stress
Shive Shankar, CCH is a certified homeopathic consultant in classical homeopathy who after receiving her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University received her diploma in homeopathic medicine from the School of Homeopathy New York in New York City. She has been in private practice for the past 2 years in New Jersey and New York. Weekend appointments are also available for your convenience. Only personal check or cash is accepted at this time.
Will Proposition 37 — requiring labeling of GMOs in our food — pass? Note that even China requires labeling! But here in the U.S., GMOs took off in the 1990s with no public debate, and today they’re in most processed foods, making Americans the world’s GMO guinea pigs.
We know it’s easy to get sunk by “information overload” and agribusiness advertising. So far the largest GMO maker, Monsanto, and other industry giants have plowed at least $35 million into keeping us in the dark.
To help us think straight, we’ve prepared seven points to consider and share with your friends — all backed by authoritative studies. Here’s what they reveal:
1. GMOs have never undergone standard testing or regulation for human safety. And now that they’re in 70 percent of processed foods, it’s extremely difficult for scientists to isolate their health risks.
2. But we know that GMOs have proven harmful in animal studies. A 2009 reviewof 19 studies found mammals fed GM corn or soy developed “liver and kidney problems” that could mark the “onset of chronic diseases.” Most were 90-day studies. In a new two-year study, rats fed GM corn developed two to three times more tumors — some bigger than a quarter of their total body weight — and these tumors appeared much earlier than in rats fed non-GM corn. Among scientists, the study has its defenders and critics, but even the critics underscore that we need more long-term studies.
3. And the most widely used GMOs are paired with an herbicide linked to serious health risks. GM crops — Roundup Ready soy and corn — are treated with the herbicide glyphosate, which in exposed humans has been associated with DNA damage. In the lab, it’s proven toxic to human liver cells.
4. The consequences of GMO technology are inherently unpredictable. Inserting a single gene can result in multiple, unintended DNA changes and mutations. “Unintended effects are common in all cases where GE [genetic engineering] techniques are used,” warn scientists. One such environmental consequence — genetic contamination of other plants — is already documented. Note that unlike food, once released into the environment, seeds can’t be “recalled“!
5. GMO makers intimidate and silence farmers and scientists. GMO corporations use patents and intellectual property rights to sue farmers, block research, and threaten investigators. “For a decade,” protested Scientific American editors in 2009, GMO companies “have explicitly forbidden the use of the seeds for any independent research,” so “it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised.”
6. GMOs undermine our food security. Within the biotechnology market, Monsanto alone controls 90 percent of GE crops worldwide. And Monsanto is one of three GMO companies including DuPont and Syngenta that control 70 percent of the global seed market, reinforcing monopoly power over our food. GMO seeds are costly and must be purchased every year, so they worsen farmers’ indebtedness, dependency, and vulnerability to hunger.
7. GMOs aren’t needed in the first place, so why would we take on these risks and harms?Studies show that safe, sustainable farming practices applied worldwide could increase our food supply as much as 50 percent. And keep in mind that the world’s alreadyproducing 2,800 calories for every person on earth every day — more than enough. And that’s just with what’s left over after using half the world’s grain for feed, fuel and other purposes, and wasting one-third of all food. So the urgent question isn’t about “more” anyway. It is, How can all of the world’s people gain the power to secure healthy food? And a good start is knowing what’s in our food.
For a cool, just-released animated video devouring the myth that we need industrial ag, seefoodmyths.org. Shopping in the Know (Not GMO)
• Avoid processed foods! It’s a simple way to reduce exposure to the four most common GM ingredients: non-organic forms of soy, canola, cottonseed and corn, including high-fructose corn syrup.
• Look for the voluntary “non-GMO” label.
• Buy “certified organic,” which ensures that no GMO ingredients were used.
• Visit www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com for a list of thousands of GMO products and brands.
To sort more food myths from facts, visit the new Food MythBusters: the Real Story About What We Eat website at FoodMyths.Org. And, if you live in California, vote Nov. 6 for Proposition 37 to require GMO labeling.
Speak out, wherever you are. Demand federal GMO labeling and work to end GMOs.
This portion is from Suzanne Newman, Gotcher’ Back Massage Therapy
It Is Time To Take Control Of Our Childrens Futures!
Please click on all below to open to read, call and pass the petition around to sign.
This is a must read for every runner. I am now carrying Foot Wheels and Foam Rollers, a must have for every runner!
“I have great results with Plantar Fasciitis with all most 90% cure rate with special Massage Techniques.” Anchor an exercise band in a loop on a desk chair leg. Put the arch of your foot in the loop/sling working against the resistance pull the exercise band toward your body 10 times. Relax and repeat the exercise 10-15 times. I also do Kinesio tapping which works great too. Arch Strengthener I highly suggest buying Foot Savers sold on www.yamun … Read More
“Thank You Todd Hargrove for your great article, I wanted to share it with as many people as possible”.
This part only by , Suzanne Newman, ” ALWAYS BUY THE BLACK FOAM ROLLERS. THE WHITE ONES DO NOT HOLD UP UNDER WEIGHT FOR LONG! MY FAVORITE ARE, TRIGGERPOINT ROLLERS, IN MY VIEW ARE BY FAR THE BEST”!
Foam rolling is very popular. Athletic trainers use it as a part of the warm-up. Physical therapists use it as part of their treatment strategy, often to improve extensibility of “short” tissues.
There is very limited evidence about what benefit, if any, foam rolling confers. But there are at least a few studies showing that it leads to short term increases in range of motion that are not accompanied by strength loss. (This is interesting because stretching interventions tend to show increased range of motion that are associated with a loss of strength and power.)
The purpose of this article is not to question whether foam rolling is effective for anything. I’m willing to assume that it is effective in some way for some people. It is hard for me to believe that so many intelligent trainers such as Mike Boyle would be singing its praises unless it was good for something. So I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for purposes of this article.
The question that I want to answer in this post is the following: if foam rolling does work to reduce pain or improve mobility, what is the mechanism? I do not find the common explanations very convincing. But there is one (less commonly heard) explanation which I really like. Here’s my critical analysis of the different theories for why foam rolling works, including my favorite one.
1. Does foam rolling “improve tissue quality”?
This is one you will hear quite frequently, usually without any specifics as to which “qualities” are at issue. I think some people imagine that foam rolling can somehow smooth out bumps or incongruities in their tissues like a rolling pin over pizza dough. Of course, this explanation is usually intended for lay people and not scientists, so perhaps we can cut some slack about the lack of specifics. Perhaps the qualities to be improved involve the presence of fascial adhesions or trigger points. I’ll address those claims specifically below.
2. Does foam rolling lengthen or “melt” fascia?
For some reason people just tend to assume that foam rolling works by changing the fascia. I honestly have no idea why. A foam roller puts pressure on all the other tissues in the body, and they all communicate with the CNS, which controls how we move and feel. Isn’t the CNS the most obvious place to look for changes after foam rolling?
No, it always has to be the fascia!
But fascia is tough stuff. Sure it has some interesting adaptive properties, but at the end of the day its purpose is to form a solid structure for the body. Is it really plausible that we can significantly change our structure just by leaning on a foam roller a little bit? We must be made of stronger stuff than that. If fascia started to break down, or elongate, or “melt” every time it felt a little sustained pressure, we would be pretty fragile creatures. Like Frosty the Snowman in the hothouse. Every time we went camping without a thermarest we would wake up in the morning with one side longer than the other. So for me the idea that foam rolling lengthens or melts some important structural stuff in our body does not pass the common sense test.
And, more importantly, the research does not support this idea either. There are a few research studies (here and here) which try to determine the degree of pressure necessary to cause permanent deformation in mature human connective tissue. The upshot is that if you want permanent change, you better be prepared (as Paul Ingraham notes) to “get medieval.” Steam roller maybe, foam roller, no. It’s not going to happen in any of the places where the roller is most commonly applied, which are usually the strongest parts of the body – the ITB band, lumbar fascia, plantar fascia, etc.
3. Does foam rolling break up fascial adhesions?
Maybe a foam roller can’t lengthen the IT band, which is stronger than steel, but could it break up some little fascial adhesions that prevent sliding between different muscle groups? One of the studies I referenced above show that manual pressure might be enough to deform nasal fascia. Now I don’t see many people foam rolling their nose, but maybe there are tiny little adhesions between large muscles groups that are as weak and deformable as nasal fascia.
Again this seems highly speculative to me. How do we know where these adhesions are, or what angle will help break them? A foam roller is a blunt non specific instrument that delivers force in a diffuse manner into the tissue. Smash! Part of the job of fascia is to diffuse force, so it would be hard to target a specific point here. Also, the angle of pressure is always straight in. Smash! The foam roller would have limited ability to provide the kind of precise oblique force that might be able to slide one layer of tissue with respect to the other.
Another problem I have with the idea that foam rolling breaks up fascial adhesions is that the effects are often temporary. People do some foam rolling, they feel better for a while, and then tomorrow or even later that same day, they feel the need to roll the same area again. If the mechanism of effect is breaking fascial adhesions, then why do we need to repeat the process? Did the fascia knit itself back together again? The temporary nature of the results strongly suggests a nervous system mediated mechanism for efficacy, not a structural one.
3. Does foam rolling get rid of trigger points?
Many foam rolling proponents explain that proper procedure involves finding a “trigger point” and staying on that point for a while. Is foam rolling a way to treat trigger points?
It should be noted that the term trigger point means different things to different people. For some it just means a sore spot, but for others it refers to a specific pathology. The definition involves several elements such as a hyperirritable nodule within a palpably taut band that elicits a twitching response to snapping palpation. Trigger points are thought to be caused by some sort of metabolic crisis in the muscle cells which causes chemical irritation in the local area and for some unknown reason refer pain to other areas when pressed.
Trigger points are controversial to say the least. There is substantial debate as to whether they even exist. Whether they can be reliably identified is another debate. And whether they can be effectively treated is another. There are many recommended treatments – stretching, post-isometric relaxation, sticking needles into them, pressing on them, etc. I definitely don’t have the time or anything approaching the knowledge to address all these debates.
But given all these uncertainties, I’m disinclined to believe that foam rolling works by getting rid of a trigger point. There are just too many unanswered questions here. The experts in trigger point therapy will tell you that not every sore spot is a trigger point, that not all trigger points are clinically relevant, and that their identification and treatment takes practice and expertise. So I don’t think shotgun fascia smashing with a foam roller is a plausible trigger point treatment (assuming they exist and can be treated with pressure.)
4. Does foam rolling work by proprioceptive stimulation?
I often hear claims that foam rolling works by proprioceptive enhancement – stimulating mechanoreceptors in the muscles and/or fascia, such as golgi tendon organs, or muscle spindle fibers, or ruffinis, or pacinis, or Pacinos or DeNiros. This could have some beneficial effect of encouraging relaxation of muscular or fascial tone, or causing the brain to reorganize its sensory or movement maps in the local area.
I think this is a very plausible explanation and definitely on the right track. But I doubt it is the main mechanism which explains why people like to foam roll. If stimulating these mechanoreceptors explains the claimed benefits of foam rolling, then why wouldn’t you just stretch and move around, and get probably even more stimulation to these organs, but within the context of functional movements? Can the foam roller, which doesn’t really provide that much movement or stretch to the target muscle or fascia, provide more proprioceptive stimulation then functional movements like the squat, lunge or reach? I think not.
Perhaps what foam rolling has to offer over movement is novel proprioceptive stimulation. I think novelty is great and of huge potential benefit. It helps get the brain’s attention, which is what you need to do if you want the brain to change. But here’s something else that you need to do. You need to provide the brain with information that is relevant to something that the brain cares about. The brain cares about how to move your body through functional patterns such as squats, lunges and hip hinges. How is the information derived from foam rolling relevant to these tasks? The brain is not interested in information just because it’s novel. The information must also help it solve movement problems. Why would the nervous system be interested in how it feels to have a lacrosse ball jammed into your butt?
5. Does foam rolling work by diffuse noxious inhibitory control?
The winner! And this is probably the mechanism with which readers will have the least familiarity. Here’s a description of what it is, how it works, and why I think its the major reason for the potential efficacy of foam rolling (and many other forms of manual therapy).
Diffuse noxious inhibitory control (DNIC) is one of several varieties of “descending modulation”, by which the brain adjusts the “volume” on nociception (danger signals which originate in the body). DNIC means that the brain inhibits nociceptive signals from traveling up the spinal cord to the brain.
DNIC is reliably triggered by a sustained nociceptive input, such as immersing your hand in cold water. The inhibition is diffuse – it suppresses nociception not just from the local area, but distant areas as well. In other words, if your leg hurts, and you stick your hand in icewater for a while, the resulting DNIC will cause both the hand and the leg to hurt less. This dynamic of fighting pain in one area by creating it in another likely explains the success of many therapies, and is sometimes called counterirritation. The effect is temporary of course.
How powerful is the effect of DNIC? Very powerful. When a soldier loses a limb in battle, he will often feel no pain so long as the emergency persists, and DNIC is a major reason. David Butler refers to DNIC as the “drug cabinet in the brain.” Here’s a video where he explains this idea in a little more detail, including the fact that some of the drugs in the brain are stronger than morphine.
There is significant research showing that many chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and TMJ are characterized by relative failure of the DNIC mechanism.
New research shows that the effectiveness of DNIC in suppressing pain is highly dependent on theexpectation that the counterirritant will have an analgesic affect. In this interesting study, researchers immersed the hands of participants in cold water, shocked them with an electric blast to the sural nerve, and then measured the level of nociceptive activity in the spine, as well as the self-reported pain level. Importantly, the participants were divided into two groups. The first group, called the “analgesia group”, was told that the cold water immersion would reduce the amount of pain they felt from the shock. The other group, called the “hyperalgesia group” was told the opposite – that the cold water immersion would make the pain in the leg worse.
The analgesia group experienced 77% less pain, and less spinal cord nociceptive activity than the hyperalgesia group, who experienced almost no reductions in pain or spinal cord nociceptive activity. In other words, expectation of relief is a huge factor in determining whether you will get some DNIC from a painful stimulus.
Pain expert Lorimer Moseley views descending modulation and DNIC as a way for the brain to “second-guess” the periphery about the threat posed by a particular stimulus. For example, if the periphery is communicating information suggesting there is a large amount of mechanical threat in a particular area, the brain, which has access to a wealth of additional information about what is actually going on in the periphery, may decide that the problem is not so serious, and therefore inhibit the transmission of nociceptive signals to the brain.
Now let’s put this all together. DNIC is a powerful but temporary way to reduce pain in one area by creating pain in another. It depends on a decision by the brain to ignore danger signals from the body. Expectation of benefit from the irritating stimulus plays a strong role.
There are several aspects of foam rolling that are very consistent with the hypothesis that its main benefit is achieved by creating DNIC. Rule number one in foam rolling is to find a sore spot and stay on it for some time. You need to create some pain. Of course, the pain is often a “good pain”, which is exactly the type of feeling that would correlate with the brain’s conclusion that the irritation is somehow beneficial – which is what gets DNIC going.
Foam rolling often creates pain relief, not just in the area of pressure, but in other areas as well. People also tend to feel more freedom of motion, which could easily be explained by suppression of nociceptive activity, which tends to create muscle guarding, stiffness, and compensatory patterns of movement.
Further, the results of foam rolling are often temporary and need to be repeated (and often repeated harder the next time- are people becoming addicted to the drug cabinet in the brain?) This suggests a CNS mediated mechanism.
So here is the story I tell about foam rolling. You put a foam roller into your butt and create some significant nociceptive signalling. The brain receives it and says something like: OK the butt is telling me that there is some danger down there right now. But I happen to know that this is a therapeutic situation because Dr. Oz said so. So I’ll send some drugs down the spinal cord to block all this talk about danger. And, we’ll make this feel like a “good” pain not an injury. The drugs reduce pain and thereby improve movement temporarily.
Now some people will read this and say “well who cares about how it works, all I care about is that it works.” And in some sense that is fine, but this lack of curiosity ignores the potential improvements one might make to a therapeutic regime by understanding the real mechanism of effect.
If foam rolling really works by nothing other than DNIC, then perhaps it would be easier to get the same effect by just pinching yourself or putting your hand in ice water. Or maybe this would mess with expectations, which we know are important to get the effect.
Here’s another interesting question that arises from the consideration that foam rolling may work purely on the basis of DNIC. If the results are only temporary, can there be any progressive benefit? I think the answer is: it depends. Pain relief and improved movement open a window of opportunity that one might climb through. If you are feeling better only for an hour, this provides enough time to train movements that would not normally be accessible, learn new skills, develop new capacities, and reduce the perceived threat associated with certain movements. This could have permanent benefit. But of course if you just sit on the couch, the benefits would probably be temporary.
Here’s another question I have in regard to foam rolling. If the major reason it works is release of the drug cabinet in the brain, then can one become addicted? I have no real evidence of this, but I swear I’ve seen a disturbing pattern. Someone gets relief from a foam roller, and then graduates to the lacrosse ball, and then to the wooden ball, until they are bruising themselves with steel in an effort to get that fix! Avoiding this type of situation is one reason it’s a good idea to know why something works.
Well there’s a lot more to be said here, but I am out of time, and if you have already read this far you are a champion!
I’m sure some of my readers will point out that I missed one or two great explanations for why foam rolling works. If I did, then please post in the comments and I’ll try to address it in a further post.
One way or the other, let me know what you think in the comments. And pass this around!