7 ways to improve your lymphatic system
The lymphatic system can be thought of as the waste disposal system of the body, however, unlike the cardiovascular system which is pumped around the body by the heart, the lymphatic system relies on body movements as a pump. Body movement forces the lymphatic fluid to be pumped around the body, otherwise it stagnates and clogs up; and is the cause of many health problems. Please have a look at the benefits of MLD.
Look to do something to keep your lymphatic system moving every day
If you have a medical condition then please check with your GP or health practitioner before you start any new exercises or changes of diet.
1. Drinking water
Your lymphatic system needs fluid to make it efficient and effective.
Think of your lymphatic system as a drain. It collects all the debris from your body processes and sending it off to be processed and out of your body. If there is no water in the drain the debris is not going to move far and create a blockage. If there is plenty of water in the drain then it will be flowing well, the debris is moved along speedily and out of the system.
Please see my previous blog on “Water – why do I need to drink water?”
A breath of fresh air to invigorate your whole body
2. Deep breathing
The body movement from the act of breathing is a lymphatic pump in itself and can help lymph move through the abdominal and chest area. Diaphragmatic breathing is a method of deep breathing to help improve the pumping action of the lymphatic system.
Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.
Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible
Exhale slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves away from your hand. The hand on your upper chest should remain as still as possible
As you gain more practice, you can try the diaphragmatic breathing technique while sitting in a chair.
This exercise should be relaxing. If you are struggling to move just your stomach or start to feel light headed (you may be holding your breath or breathing too slowly/quickly) then just start with a couple of breaths each time until you get used to the exercise. Just 5-10 repetitions a day will help.
Body movements forces your lymphatic system to move
3. Keep moving
Sitting at a desk all day? Spending the day driving? Working in a small space or with limited movement? Having to spend time in bed or in a chair due to illness? The lymphatic system needs muscle activity to help circulation.
Any exercise can help – just for a minute or two every half hour.
Point and flex your toes then circle your ankles both directions
Have a good stretch
Walk around the block
static walking (see below)
Slowly turn your head to one side and then the other
Walk up and down the nearest stairs a couple of times
Bend your knees up to your chest (or as far as you can go)
Bend your elbow to bring your hand to your shoulder
If you have more time:
Swimming / cycling / pilates / yoga / walking / running exercising at the gym
Martial arts / bouncing on swiss ball / trampolining / rebounding (see below)
Skipping / aerobics
Exercise to suit everyone
4. Stationary walking
Stationary walking is a good exercise for the lymphatic system. This is especially so if you have difficulty exercising or are sitting for long periods in a chair (office work or driving) or in bed.
This exercise can be practised when lying, sitting, standing or on the rebounder (see below). Aim to practise this exercise 4 times a day for up to 10 minutes or longer depending upon your fitness level. Start gently and build up slowly.
Start with both feet flat on the floor, your weight even on the heels and balls of your feet.
Keeping the balls of your feet on the floor – alternatively lift each heel (as one heel rises the other falls).
Get your lymphatic system moving without exercise
5. Skin brushing
Dry brushing stimulates your lymphatic system and has many other beneficial health benefits too: improves lymphatic system; exfoliates your skin; improves your circulation; reduces cellulite; stress reliever; improves digestion; refreshing and energising.
Have a look at this article to see – How to brush your skin
Shower brushing is used more for exfoliation but using
exfoliation gloves or a loofa will give the most benefit to the lymphatic system. It may be more suitable than dry brushing if you have particularly dry or sensitive skin.
Movement forces the lymphatic fluid to drain toxins out of the body
One of the most effective ways of keeping your lymphatic system moving is through rebounding or trampolining.
Rebounding also has the added benefit of being a low impact exercise that helps improve cardiovascular fitness and can be adapted to suit most levels of fitness.
Get started with a gentle bounce, 2 -3 minutes (or less) once or twice each day, with your feet staying on the mat surface, working up to a high intensity bounce (check on the internet for free classes). If you have balance problems then you can get rebounders with a stability bar.
Cleanse your body, promote healing and boost your immune system
7. Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is specific form of light massage of the lymphatic system which helps the body move excess toxins, water and metabolic waste in a way that cleanses the body and promotes the immune system and healing.
MLD also has a calming effect on the nervous system helping to move the body from a stressed state to a relaxed state. This produces a state of deep relaxation in the body allowing even the walls of vessels and bowels to be relaxed: making it an excellent therapy for sufferers of hypertension.
MLD also has a pain reducing effect as the light touch overrules the pain signals by clearing the pain chemicals from the injured area.
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