Lymphatic system and how to make it effective
I find it so interesting to know what actually happens to our bodies when working out and moving around. Clearly the body is a system where everything is well thought and where everything is controlled by higher intelligence. And it does so without us interfering. But what if we actually knew what is happening in the body. I remember my biology classes back in high school, and I had no clue that what I studied had any connection to me.
One important part of this intelligent system is the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is part of the vascular
system and an important part of the immune system, comprising a
large network of lymphatic
vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph directionally towards the heart. The lymphatic system is your body’s built-in
sanitation center, the plumbing that carries away and filters out poisonous
waste products from every cell, tissue and organ.
Lymphatic system :
- Absorbs fats and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive tract and delivers them to the cells of the body.
- It is an essential part of the immune system that maintains fluid levels, fights infection and produces disease fighting white blood cells
- It is the largest circulatory system in the body.
- It is responsible for the removal of interstitial fluid from tissues into lymph fluid, which is filtered and brought back into the bloodstream through the subclavian veins near the heart.
The lymphatic system is a circulatory system that drains fluid from the blood vessels.
Lymph vessels are the site of fluid drainage and pump lymph fluid using smooth muscle and skeletal muscle action. The larger vessels contain valves to prevent backflow and pump towards the heart to return lymph fluid to the bloodstream by the subclavian veins.
A lymph node is an organized collection of lymphoid tissue through which the lymph passes on its way to returning to the blood. Lymph nodes are located at intervals along the lymphatic system.
Lymphoid tissue contains lymphocytes and other specialized cells and tissues that have immune system functions.
In order to do all that effectively the lymphatic system needs help to move the fluid through the body because it doesn’t have an automatic pump like the heart, which moves the blood in the circulatory system. Moving and exercising play an important role here
How to boost your lymphatic system
Inverting your body upside down helps drain lymph towards the heart, and twists both force fluid out of tissues and organs, allowing fluid to flush back. Headstands, shoulder stands, and handstand are all reversing the effect of gravity and supporting the lymph system. If that’s a bit too adventurous for you, simply lying with your legs up against the wall for five minutes is greatly beneficial, both for the lymph and the nervous system.
1. Stretching and yoga poses are especially effective for moving lymph.
Neck rolls: stand or sit tall with arms by your sides. Gently bend your head left, chin tilted down, shoulders relaxed. Slowly roll your head clockwise; complete a full circle. Repeat as desired, changing direction halfway.
Pelvic tilts: lie flat on your back, feet hip width apart, knees bent. Flatten lower back against the floor and tilt spine upwards – abdominals are in a C-curve. Lower and repeat several times.
Single leg circles: Lie on your back with legs straight. Raise right leg high and straight as possible. Ensure abdominals are engaged and lower back pressed firmly into the floor. Make several small, clockwise circles in the air with toes pointed. Repeat in reverse direction and then with other leg.
Forward bend (uttanasana): Stand straight, arms by your side, feet close together. Raise arms to the side and slowly bend forward and down, from the hip. Bend knees if you can’t touch the floor with straight legs. Nod your head yes and no. Breathe. With abdominals engaged, slowly and mindfully rise to standing.
Tip: Holding stretches combined with conscious deep breathing can help direct lymph through the deep channels of the chest.
2. Jumping jacks
Those all-body-inclusive jumps are amazing for your lymph system. The jumping up and down and pumping/lifting of the arms really gets the lymph flowing everywhere.Tips: Start with 10 jumps a couple of times a day and work your way up to 100 a day for some serious feel-good benefits.
3. Rebounding – jumping on a trampoline
It gets the blood pumping and helps build muscle tone. Many fitness studios now have classes that include lots of rebounding moves set to music. And if that’s not your jam, you can get a small trampoline for your home and get on it daily for 10 to 30 minutes with some simple jumping to your favorite tunes. A good way to shake off stress and tension and stimulate the lymph system at the same time.
Tip: To get the most benefit out of rebounding, start with The Health Bounce – gently bouncing up and down without your feet leaving the mat. This is a very low impact exercise and very effective at moving your lymphatic system – just two minutes clears the lymph. Build up intensity slowly as rebounding can release too many toxins if you jump in too fast
4. Excercise ball
If you don’t have a rebounder, you can utilize the same gravitational pull principle as the rebounder by using an inexpensive exercise ball or yoga ball.
Tip: Always start with a short bouncing time and simple, gentle movements. Even small movements for short periods of time can be very effective in moving the lymph. Build up the intensity of the exercise slowly.
5. Go for a walk
One of the best ways to activate lymphatic flow is to take a brisk walk. Walking is a weight-bearing activity that creates gravitational pulls on the lymphatic system each time you take a step.
Tip: Plan to take a 15-30 minute brisk walk each day. Swing your arms and power walk for the best results. If you are not up to that, even a leisurely walk will be helpful.5
6. Move around whenever you can
The lymphatic system depends largely on large muscle activity in the body for its circulation. Stagnation from sitting all day is a major problem. People who sit at their computers without taking breaks develop a sluggish lymph system because they do not move.
Tip: Get up to clean up! The good news is any exercise helps – move around for a minute or two every 15 – 20 minutes, do knee bends, go for a walk during lunch, stretch throughout the day and develop a regular exercise routine. Gentle exercise like walking, stretching, rebounding (see below), and swimming are great for moving the lymph.
7. Get a lymph massage
Fact: Lymphatic massage reduces swelling, helps detoxify the body, and helps speed regeneration of tissues and cells. You can go for a whole body massage or focus on targeted areas. For example, backed up lymphatic fluid in the head can contribute to head congestion, stuffiness, feeling of pressure in the head or ears, sinus congestion, vertigo, dizziness, even insomnia.8 A simple self-massage can be used to bring that fluid down from the head. This is a great technique for cold and allergies season.
Tip: Schedule a lymphatic massage with a professional lymphatic massage therapist or do your own self massage.