On Wednesday, I discussed my journey of healing my relationship with my center using a grippy pliable air-filled ball, called the Coregeous ball. Did you know that the gut area is the most abundant site in your body for lymph? Your lymph system stores the majority of your disease-fighting cells. Your lymphatic ducts and tubing create an odd, one-way highway; there is no upward movement out of the ducts and tubes other than being pressed and squeezed through motion, position, palpation or muscular contractions. Motion surrounding your lymph ducts helps propel those disease-fighting cells into your bloodstream, where they can then fight off infection.
Your abdominal lymph is loaded with immune-rich cells. The white blood cells within it have been highly sensitized by the gut’s bacterial environment and thus are the superheroes of your lymphatic system. Helping your gut lymph move north into the larger blood vessels is not the easiest proposition. You can do so by inverting your body or doing intense abdominal contractions and mobilizations, or you can use a squishy soft ball for self-massage.
Sources and More Information:
Lisa Hodge shared her breakthrough studies on rats at the 2012 International Fascia Research Congress. She infected rats with lung cancers [LT1] and then created a seven-day protocol of rhythmic massage on their bellies for four minutes at a time, with a break between rounds. She found that the rats that received the abdominal massage saw a decrease in the size of their lung tumors and contracted far fewer pneumonias.
Deep, deliberate abdominal breathing while lying belly-down on top of a ball, coupled with movement, is quite similar to the actions Dr. Hodge induced on the rats’ bellies. She claims that myofascial release, or traction and release of the diaphragm, helps remove restrictions to lymphatic vessels. The mobilization of white blood cells was done through deliberate motion and made a massive difference in these animals.
Your ability to affect your own immune system is not magical thinking; it is literally in the power of your own hands. So perhaps you can skip the antibiotics; just get down and roll.
And if your desire to get thin has blown apart your self-esteem and overwhelms your thoughts day and night as mine used to, please consider finding support and professional help.
For more specifics on how to best practice self abdominal massage for a myofascial immunity boost, please see my new video Treat While You Train or check out the video below.
 “Osteopathic lymphatic pump techniques to enhance immunity and treat pneumonia.” Lisa M. Hodge, PhD. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, March 2012.
Portions of this blog are excerpted from my new book The Roll Model.
[Reprinted with permission from Gaiam Life]
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Just this morning I was thinking a lot about self-massage (likely because I have been had the good fortune to roll with Jill!!).
Thinking about how it can be a life altering habit, and such an accessible one at that (the kind of life altering habits I am most interested in).
This post and Dr. Hodge’s research are certainly a sign for us to strengthen that delicious habit: endorsed by this post, Ayurveda, and the delicious nourishing feel it comes with instantaneously! Makes so much sense to help our lymphatic system out!
Fascinating! I love learning more about our amazing immune system, thanks for the research!
The information is accessible in its presentation and its application.
Thank you for writing this Jill. My desire to get thin has been on my mind, every day for 30 years. This is the first year that I finally understand the power of the gut in relation to inflammation. I now understand the importance of lymp, breath, movement and I am so excited to have found another way to stimulate the gut and lymph! The best part, it’s working <3
The Coregous ball is fast becoming my favorite tool! I’ve used a similar ball for years through Pilates practice, but you’ve opened my eyes to so many other (even greater) values of physical and emotional health and wellness brought by this amaing prop!
The Coregeous ball has become my favorite YTU tool. I hadn’t considered the belly to be so laden with lymph. It is wonderful knowing that I can boost my immunity by rolling my belly.
This is really fascinating, and I’ll be curious to learn more about abdominal massage and try it in my own body. I’ve read a bit about the microbiome over the last year of 3rd trimester pregnancy, childbirth, and raising an infant. I’m finding it absolutely astounding how much of our health and well-being ties to our guts, and how little understood or discussed this has been in the dominant western scientific/medical paradigm. It’s exciting to think that might be changing.
Such an important and interesting article about how we can improve our own gut health with a simple tool and exercise. Thank you for sharing!
It is encouraging to know that I can do things at home and for free to help heal myself!
I already love the iliacus release with the ball. But it really interesting to know that i am also beneficially affecting the immune system by rolling the belly. Amazing
Oh this lymphatic system, it never seizes to amaze me. Thank you for another great discovery!
Mind blown! I heard about rolling at the abdominal but I always think that’s only affecting everything abdominal. Thanks Jill for the inspiring information on the lymph part and how our body can benefit from it.
I’ve loved rolling my belly out on the Coregeous ball for a while now, but I had no idea how helpful I was being to my lymphatic system…Great information!
This looks great for reclaiming our bellies. Reminds me of how babies loll around on their tummies and from there start to lift their heads, look around, begin to move their limbs and then crawl. We adults probably need more time looking at the world from our bellies down! I’m ordering my Coregeous ball right now!
Thanks Jill, did not know that rolling my gut area with the coregeous ball could help my immune system. Also thanks for the exercise/vidéo!
In my opinion, gut health is one the next frontiers of health. It’s cool that you’ve already got some great material for assisting gut health outside of the nutritional scope. So many people need this!
That is interesting and valuable information to know. After learning about the diaphragm from you yesterday on our 4th day YTU training, I now have a better understanding of the connection between the diaphragm and all the other muscles around it. I’m definitely motivated to try this when I get home after our 7 day training.
I took one of Jill’s workshops on Coregeous rolling and was astonished at how ‘yucky’ this felt. I was a little surprised, I suppose because I practice yoga and other self-care modalities. However, I am also a woman. A woman who lives in a body (which I am fond of) but which I regularly ‘strangle’ by attempting to always control the appearance of any belly. Why?? I’m not sure. Too many reasons to list here, but I am certain I am not the only one. This coregeous work brought up some important questions about how I treated my body and reacquainted me with my diaphragm and abdomen.
What a fascinating study on the rats! Thanks for adding that in! Jill you have motivated me to get on my corgeous ball more frequently! Once I am done all my Level 1 homework I want to read Lisa M Hodge article.
It’s fascinating to me that abdominal massage using the Coregeous ball can boost the immune system!! This makes much more sense to me now — knowing that abdominal lymph is loaded with immune-rich cells and having seen how intricately connected the diaphragm and abdominal muscles are from watching Gil Hedley’s dissection of the transverse abdominis tonight. Rolling the abdominal muscles brings so many wins on so many levels! It relieves pain and tightness in the belly, back and hips, increases breath capacity (bringing more oxygen, energy and relaxation to the body), and boosts immune function! WOW!!! I’m excited to keep exploring and discovering as I continue to get immersed in the Integrated Embodied Anatomy training this weekend.
In my practice I tend to forget about the coregeous ball and rolling my belly sticking to alphas and originals or pluses. It seems I need to get back on the ball. Fascinating how rolling the abdomen can improve immune function. I will encourage my children to roll when they’re feeling unwell.
Great article Jill, in sharing information from the Fascia Research Congress into immune system function, and the benefits in using a squishy ball such as the Coregeous Ball for self massage another reason to love using the Coregeous Ball for belly massage as well as being neurologically down regulating to calm a fired up fight flight or flee nervous system body response!! as well we can now increase our immune system response!! I love using the Coregeous Ball and introduce it to all my clients.
As you say “Your abdominal lymph is loaded with immune-rich cells. The white blood cells within it have been highly sensitized by the gut’s bacterial environment and thus are the superheroes of your lymphatic system. Helping your gut lymph move north into the larger blood vessels is not the easiest proposition. You can do so by inverting your body or doing intense abdominal contractions and mobilizations, or you can use a squishy soft ball for self-massage” I love the gut smash you do with Dr Kelly Starrett
I really never connected immunity to massaging the gut. I knew about the relationship to gut health from the perspective of what you ingest into your body. The concept of the immunity boosting effects of moving white blood cells, that are rich with lymphatic fluids from the gut to the major blood vessels in the body, makes sense. While I have had abdominal massage from a skilled therapist, I personally have not spent time ball rolling for immune benefits specifically. I am going to try it and see the effects. Thanks Jill!
Thanks for this Jill! I never thought Belly rolling on the corgeous ball can help stimulate the lymph. My husband has been having immune issues and I have been telling him to stimulate his lymph through dry brushing. However, that only targets the superficial and belly rolling on the corgeous ball can target the fascia. so I cant wait to try this with my husband!!! I really appreciate it.
Belly rolling on the corgeous ball has literally changed my life (as you know) in helping me address adhesions, chronic pain, and the surprise release of emotions that comes almost every time I roll this area! But I didn’t realize the array of benefits for the lymphatic system. Being in my line of work, I see a lot of patients being treated for cancer whose immune systems are severely compromised due to the chemotherapy that they’re receiving leaving them incredibly susceptible to common colds and flu. There’s really no way to help this prophylactically but I wonder if abdominal rolling would be a key to staying common cold free while fighting cancer. Always amazed at the many benefits of rolling, thank you Jill!
Thank you for bringing Dr Hodge’s research to light to illustrate the immunity boosting effects of moving white blood cell rich lymphatic fluids from the gut to the major blood vessels in the body. While I have understood and experienced the life-enriching and immunity boosting benefits of mobility, I have not engaged in abdominal self massage. This tender area of the body is so emotionally charged it’s spooky!
Fascinating article. I realize now I honestly never truly understood the function or purpose of the lymphatic system before. I find it very empowering to know that I can help heal myself with some simple rolling on the abdomen! Thank you for the info and tips!
I am a licensed massage therapist and I definitely see the health benefits of abdominal massage. It is sometimes difficult to convince clients to let me work on their abdomen since so many people just want you to pound on their back. However, once that boundary is crossed, they all love it and will make sure that I’m going to leave time for their abdomen. I recently purchased a set of YTU balls for myself and am currently in the YTU L1 certification course and can’t wait to begin to teach more self massage and yoga to my clients. Coregous is my favorite…I’m telling everyone about her.
Even though I employ compressive postures in my classes and use bolsters to add to this effect, I never really thought of the release and healing effects in the way that you have offered it. Very eye opening and informative. Thanks Jill!
This concept, “Motion surrounding your lymph ducts helps propel those disease-fighting cells into your bloodstream, where they can then fight off infection.”, is such a simple one, yet it’s not how we tend to think about up regulating the immune system. Usually when you think immune system you think: nutrition, sleep, supplements, rest…right? I love that this concept and these YTU exercises with the coregeous ball help re frame the way we think about our abdomens and the systems that keep us in good health. This is awesome and mind blowing! Thanks!
I have always been a fan of abdominal massage and its health benefits as it relates to releasing tension in the organs, facilitating movement in the intestines as well as helping lower back issues. This is the first time I’ve heard the benefits of using your therapy ball on the abdomen and its impact on the immune system. Its an obvious correlation completely missed that through this process you’re massaging the lymphatic system and as a result, release stagnation. Sounds like a trifecta of healthy food choices, probiotics and core ball rolling you might be a less than optimal host for the next cold or flu. 🙂 Loved this, thank you!
Hi Jill. So excited to use these techniques myself, with family and with naturopathic clients.
The potential for the balls to down-regulate the nervous system (limiting cortisol inflammatory response which is major part of many chronic and autoimmune conditions), to enhance lymph flow, to roll out the fascia super-information highway (emerging theories suggest the health of the fascia can impact neural pathways, nutrient absorption and transportation), and to roll out the abdomen to influence depth of breath (with Dr Hodge’s observations of correlations between breath, diaphragm release and mobilisation of wbcs) can exponentially improve immune outcomes.
Love how people can help the body’s natural homeostasis by spending just minutes rolling!
I was first introduced to abdominal massage in massage therapy school. While most therapists would shy away from abdominal work because people were so uncomfortable with their bellies, I seemed to gravitate towards it. Recognizing that the very place we were avoiding was the place we needed to connect to the most. I hear this echoed in your words Jill – “Your ability to affect your own immune system is not magical thinking; it is literally in the power of your own hands. So perhaps you can skip the antibiotics; just get down and roll.” The strokes I would do with my hands is the same work I can do (and teach to others) with the coregeous ball! I knew there were lymph in the abdomen but appreciate the explanation of how the massage directly affects the lymph and the immune boosting white blood cells.
After spending 4 days in core immersion, coregeous ball massage on abdomen is now my favorite thing to do. Every day!!!! thank you for the numerous benefits this massage has to offer. Thank you!!!!!!
So enlightening! I think of abdominal massage as being helpful for digestion, for muscles and even for emotional releases but seeing its effects on the immune system…! Fascinating! I use my Coregeous regularly but now I’m going to make my husband and kids join me too– especially this winter.
There are so many things about our own bodies that we just don’t know unless someone teaches us. It’s incredible that most human beings spend their entire lives – decades and decades – not knowing how their bodies work on the most basic level, let alone on the level that allows someone to facilitate the function their immune system. Thank you for providing a way for more people to access information about their bodies, both through your written words and through the balls and the Yoga Tune Up techniques. I haven’t spent much time with the Coregeous ball, because it does feel uncomfortable and that made me uneasy about using it too much. But after reading this blog, I think I will focus on applying the Coregeous ball techniques to my abdomen more frequently. I’m sure my digestive tract will thank me, too!
I love talking research. Thank you Lisa Hodge for your research. This area makes people very uncomfortable, myself included. But after a few sessions I actually really enjoyed it. And so did my abdomen and low back. I found that it positively affected my mood and releasing the anterior structures created a relaxing environment for my QL and paraspinals.
I first learned about abdominal massage during my training in Thai massage — there mostly used to create a parasympathetic reaction or to aid in digestion. Since then I have recieved osteopathic treatments to manipulate specific organs and break up adhesions between them — a transformative experience. I had not considered the role of lymph in this area or how massage might affect it. Thanks for the information … I am keen to know more about these additional benefits and continue to explore these effects on myself.
“And if your desire to get thin has blown apart your self-esteem and overwhelms your thoughts day and night as mine used to, please consider finding support and professional help.”
So many new neurological synapses get freshly myelinated when I come into contact with anything you have to say, dear Jill. This article connected a few more context dots, namely, that belly breathing on the Coregeous ball is the equivelant to abdominal pumping. And, that it is the desire to get thin, rather than the desire to experience pleasure in our bodies, that wrecks our self-esteem. (Personally, I had, and continue to uncover just as foggy of an idea of what brings me pleasure as I do of what brings me pain – a blind spot of a different sort!) We must practice to create a new desire. In my experience, this has meant being willing to pause long enough to feel into sensate experience, to interocept, to emote, and, as Glenn Black is teaching me, to find ways of detaching from the sometimes maladaptive storylines connected to my feelings and eventually free up other associations to grab hold – hopefully healthier ones. Rolling – well, immediately post-rolling, has surprised me at times with such intense feelings of release – of tension, a form of physicalized attachment, perhaps; and emotion, something that feels subtler and harder to trace backwards – and has cleared space for me to reconceive of my body and my life. It’s helped me, and my students, practice to create a new desire – the pleasure of embodiment.
Jill, thank you and your growing team. The gut roll, I love it helps so much with digestion and breaking up scar tissue. For my self, finally boating accident, c-section, and gall bladder. I know this also helps those with old built up scar tissue form some of these and open heart surgery. Keep rolling.
No wonder I stayed heathy all winter. I was using the corgeous to get after my illopsoas a few times a week. It suck a great tool. Thanks
What a fascinating study to back up the importance of abdominal massage. I will share this with my massage students who often drop this portion of a full body massage soon after graduation!
Great insight on another use for the coregeous ball, besides massaging my scar tissues from 2 surgerys and a hysterectomy. Didn’t know that it can help my immune system too? Thank you for the great advice, will definitely use this more, now that you have pointed out another theraputic ussage for the coregeous ball.
Amazing! I assumed that rolling on the Coregeous ball would help with digestion and the organs of the abdomen, but I hadn’t considered the potential of using the Coregeous for immunity. It makes sense, but I hadn’t connected the dots until reading this post. I can’t wait to start a regular practice rolling my core. Thank you!
In addition to promoting lymph processing towards the thoracic duct by massaging the abdomen, belly down cross fiber movements over a soft ball like the “Corgeous ball can potentially reduce fascial restrictions between the Psoas and Diaphragm, (on one or both sides of the diaphragm) promoting better breathing, which also contributes to a boost in immune response. Sometimes the posts and diaphragm love each other a little too much. Some time apart can be a good thing.
good morning Jill, I am currently at teacher t, with you first things first, your daughterr is soooo sweet. I loved this about the immune response to rolling. I have used this Method for about 11 years after a near death accident and tearing of all of the digestive organs. This is so true. I have suffered from many conditions due to the bacteria build up in my system. I am her today to say after having to do daily deep, painful massage just to elimate from my system. thank y0u for putting this out there many people just do not understand.
I’m away for a week and I’m so mad I left my Coregeous ball at home. This article gives me even more incentive to roll!
really great info! love that the rolling stimulates immune system!
I use the Corgeous ball every morning when I wake up (before eating or drinking). The first time I used the ball it was extremely uncomfortable. The rebound of my tissues into the ball was amazing. I can’t tell you how quickly those sensations went away. It also helps my intestines wake up and move! I flip over and then use the ball to help with a thoracic stretch. This was worst than the initial belly ball rolling. I can’t say it is “comfortable”, but it is much easier to tolerate and I can stay longer with the ball on my spine. That is progress! I recommend this everyday. Better on an empty stomach for sure.
I loooove this! I did not know this aspect of how our immune system is so greatly supported by our gut. It’s just amazing how our body is equipped for thriving and healing, and how movement, breath and massage can unleash so much magic! We might be able to explain what is happening physiologically, but it doesn’t make it any less magical to me! thank you!
Your article makes so much sense which explains why sometimes when I am nervous, I feel sick to my stomach. Our stomach is definitely a body part we obsess about in our society, and it is definitely empowering to know that we have control over our own immune system. Thank you.
This is the most essential and love rolling on my abdominal to the courageous ball.
My abdominal gets soft and never had constipation.
I feel my guts and blood cerculation around abdominal which hard to realize in the normal life.
Because I have a scar by c-section so it’s so nice to release the tention around the pubic area too.
Soften the abdominal is prevent back pain and infertility.
It is great preparation for Nauli to get great energy.
Also rolling to the front midline thoght public to heart is get life energy!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful exercise!
Dear Jill, many thanks for this great article. I acquired a Coregeous Ball recently, and it has really helped me to work through moments of high stress and anxiety. I find that practicing pranayama in addition to rolling on the Coregeous ball enables a powerful down-regulation (hello, parasympathetic!), and I am glad to hear that it also gets my immune system going!
Great clip. Wondering how long after eating I should wait to do this.
Thanks Jill! I welcome another excuse to get down and roll around on the floor. I already know it makes me feel great but now I have a other reason why.