How To Look After Your Lymphatic System
I’ll doubt that you’ve ever really given much thought to your lymphatic system, the amazing detoxification system working hard to keep your body in good working order. It's likely that you might have experienced swollen tonsils if you’ve ever had a nasty throat infection, but otherwise your lymph nodes have probably stayed undetected. Yet, while the lymphatic system gets less attention than the cardiovascular circulatory system, it’s function is just as critical. While the circulatory system delivers nutrients in the blood to our organs and tissues, the lymphatic system is a network of nodes, vessels, glands and organs which help rid the body of toxins and waste. Through the lymphatic network, immune cells can travel around fighting bacteria, viruses, toxins and cancer cells. This is why keeping it functioning properly is directly related to the overall health of the body: a stronger lymphatic system means a more resilient and reactive immune response.
What You'll Need
- A mini trampoline
- A dry brush
What You'll Do
- Exercise: Unlike the cardiovascular system which relies on the heart to act as a pump, the lymphatic system relies on the relaxation and the contraction of muscles to move lymph fluid around the body. This movement stimulates the lymph system’s one-way valves to open and close, increasing lymph flow back towards the heart. Any kind of exercise is useful but rebounding has been identified as one of the easiest ways to pump the lymph. Rebounding is the practice of jumping on a trampoline for at least 10 minutes. This passively moves the lymph while stimulating the circulation of blood throughout the body.
- Practice yoga: Flowing through yoga poses cause the muscles in the body to contract and relax. This allows for a free flow of lymph, which prevents its stagnation and accumulation of toxins. Even just lying with your legs up against a wall can help improve the flow of lymph back towards the heart.
- Hydrate: The lymphatic system is primarily composed of water and must be hydrated to function optimally. Without adequate water, lymphatic fluid cannot flow properly.
- Use a dry brush: Dry brushing involves simply taking a dry coarse brush over the skin, towards the heart. This encourages the movement of lymph and blood in underlying tissue, which helps clear built-up toxins. As a result, it can also be beneficial in improving skin conditions and reducing cellulite.
- Breathe deeply: Positive and negative pressure from deep, diaphragmatic breathing is another way to move lymph towards lymphatic channels.
- Try lymphatic massge: This is a special form of massage that specifically targets the flow of lymph in the body. I had several sessions after my operation to try and get rid of some mild lymphoedema that I had developed around my scar tissue. By applying pressure in specific ways that target lymph nodes and vessels, a therapist trained in the lymphatic drainage therapy technique can activate lymphatic fluid circulation. A lymphatic facial is also a great way to reduce puffiness around the eyes and achieve glowing skin.
Tips & Warnings
- Swollen glands (lymphadenopathy) is a common reaction when the body’s fighting an infection, but it can also be cause for concern. If you’ve been unwell with a cold or cough and your glands have swollen, you should expect them to settle within a few weeks. If your glands remain swollen, you should make sure you make an appointment to see your doctor.
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