The lymphatic system is a one-way circulatory system consisting of a network of vessels, lymph nodes, and lymph tissue responsible for transporting lymph fluids, flushing out toxins, and circulating white blood cells throughout the body to help defend against infections.
It works with the cardio-vascular circulation to make sure your body gets what it needs (infection-fighting white blood cells to support immune function) and gets rid of what it doesn’t need (toxins, bacteria, viruses, cellular waste). Unlike the cardiovascular system, it does not have a pump, such as the heart, to help push lymph fluids through the network of vessels. For this reason it’s vital to be active. Contracting muscles act as a pump to push fluids up toward the neck. Fluids that don’t circulate easily can cause swelling and affect your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.
There is no one type of exercise that is best to get the lymphatic system to circulate. Any movement where you are actively engaging your muscles will get the fluids moving. If you are experiencing a certain condition (lupus, post-surgery swelling, swelling from pregnancy, arthritis, headaches, etc.) I would recommend a manual lymph drainage massage.
Here are some ideas to assist the lymphatic system for optimal health!
- Let gravity do the work! Lie face-up and prop legs up the wall.
- Epsom salt baths! Nice way to destress, calm muscles and stimulate circulation.
- Drink enough water for your activity level. If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
- Clean diet / nutrient-dense juices – what better motivation to up your power greens and fresh fruits than to support your immune system. Stick to what’s in season to get the freshest produce.
- Rebounding, it’s the trampoline workout that’s all the rage! Gentle on joints and fun to do! Crazy stunt jumps are optional but not needed to stimulate the lymph system, A gentle health bounce (gentle bounce, feet don’t lift off the trampoline) will do the trick.
- Diaphragmatic breathing. We have lymph nodes that run deep in the core, deep breathing is a good way to stimulate them.
I incorporate focused deep breathing along with various integrated movement patterns to all personalized training programs. As a licensed massage therapist, I include different techniques including manual lymph drainage to address health and wellness needs. Contact me for a consultation for a personalized program. I hope this has been insightful and inspired movement!
Stand Tall, Breathe Deep!