Everybody knows something about the lymphatic system but the truth is it gets very little attention. Unlike the cardiovascular system that has a pump (heart … duh) the Lymphatic system has to rely on gravity to get it’s job done.
One of the main purposes of the Lymphatic system is the regulation of toxin disposal within our bodies, which makes it absolutely essential to our normal functioning. On top of this it can aid weight loss and boost your immune system.
Most of us lead more-or less inactive lives when compared to our ancestors. This eases up the built-up of toxins and other waste material that our cells and tissues inevitably produce. Unless the Lymphatic System is functioning properly, these build-ups can reach critical levels and cause anything from fatigue to inflammations. In order to stop this from happening you need to stay active, but you also need to work smart rather than hard. Here are some tips and tricks on how to activate this system in the shortest amount of time.
While you’re undergoing huge amounts of stress your body produces a lot of stress hormones. The waste disposed by these hormones is highly acidic. A glass of lemon water might help you re-balance the pH value in your system, but the toxins still need to be purged. Now when I say stress I mean both physical (bad posture) and mental (anxiety, worry). While there are ways of controlling stress and still being productive, exercise can offer much more by treating the cause of the stress and not the symptoms. Through exercise you will both take your mind off of things and activate your muscles. Remember when I said work smart and not hard? These exercises target the Lymphatic system directly and will give you the most benefit when applied correctly.
Rebound for at least 5 minutes
I am not talking about picking up anybody from a bar after a bad breakup. I am talking about being a kid again and rebounding. You can do it on the floor or even better get a Rebounder. You can also use a jumping rope if it eases things up for you. If you suffer from knee problems get yourself a rebounding ball and do it while seated. The idea behind rebounding is that you let gravity work for you. By shaking your body up, you unclog any blockages that might have occurred. You might not be able to go the full 5 minutes at first but take your time. Even if you manage to do it for 30 seconds you will feel the positive effects almost instantly.
Yoga and the Lymphatic System
Yoga helps you develop both mentally and physically. It will at the same time calm you down, giving you razor sharp focus and tone your muscles. Simple things like putting your legs against a wall will help reverse the flow of blood and thus unclog any blockages. You could also do a whole routine. While there are many yoga routines that you can do for the Lymphatic System, I would recommend doing the 5 Tibetan Rites.
I prefer this routine for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s done in the morning, basically letting you reap the benefits for the whole day. Second, it involves your whole body, allowing you to tone every single muscle. The core and back muscles help you maintain good posture (hence less physical stress during the day) and this routine targets them extensively. Third of course would be that it activates the Lymphatic system to an extent. This is what I meant by working smart, you don’t just try to unclog your blockages, but you prevent further creation. An instructional video can be found here. If you do however want to target the Lymphatic system directly there are a lot of yoga routines aimed specifically at this.
Go for a walk
One of the keys of keeping the Lymphatic System active is physical activity. Small things like a 15-minute walk can have big impact on how your body functions. You can do it whenever you like, wherever you like. Alone or with someone else it will still have the same effects. When you go for a walk you activate a lot of muscles. You might not be aware of this because you have been doing it your whole life and you are very good at it. A short walk will activate your cardiovascular system, your respiratory system and your Lymphatic System. Remember that stress was a factor too? A walk can help you relax and take your mind off of things as well. Why not try and get a couple of things crossed from the to-do list as well? Walk your dog, go grocery shopping, your imagination is the limit.
Practice deep breathing
Our bodies are designed in a very, very efficient way. Although the Lymphatic system has no pump, our body uses the breathing mechanism to help push Lymph Liquid through the vessels. Rhythmic and proper breathing will kick-start your Lymphatic System. The best results are achieved by slow deep-stomach breaths. First start of by filling your diaphragm with air breathing in slowly. When it’s full, hold you breath for 3 seconds and exhale over the following 5. This will help oxygenate the blood and expand your blood vessels. After some 10 breaths you will enter a near-meditative state. This is an added bonus because it relieves stress as well.
Assist the waste disposal from your body
We already discussed what physical activities you can undertake so your Lymphatic system can do it’s job better. Now it’s time to look at how can you assist in the toxin disposal process.
Alternate between hot and cold showers
You must be thinking that it will feel uncomfortable. Just as deep breathing, alternating between hot and cold water in your shower will result in your blood and Lymphatic system vessels constrict and dilate. The variance in water temperature doesn’t need to be huge. Try shifting it from comfortably hot to comfortably cold. Your body will react to these changes. Added bonus is, this method gives a boost to your metabolism and immune system. So not only are you helping waste-disposal, you are less prone to those nasty colds and extra pounds.
The purpose of this massage is pretty much self-explanatory. You physically assist your Lymph draining it’s liquid. While it’s best administered by a trained professional, there are ways to do it yourself as well. Here is a video explaining how to do it properly, although I would strongly advise paying for someone to do it for you. The price you’ll pay for it is nothing compared to how you’ll feel afterward. Lymph liquid build-up in the head can cause headaches, sinus congestion and dizziness and much more. If you want to first try it for yourself, a simple self-massage to the head might be just what you need for the cold and allergies season. Check out this instructional video found below:
Choose your clothing carefully
Synthetic materials contain a lot of toxins that get absorbed through the skin. Especially if your clothing is tight. Putting extra work on your Lymphatic system’s hands is the last thing you want to do. This is why you need to choose clothes made from natural materials whenever possible. Cotton, silk and wool clothing are just some examples. Also if your clothing is too tight the toxins will get absorbed more quickly and might even interfere with lymph flow. This especially applies to underwear. Any tight bras that leave redness on the skin after you remove them will interfere with the work of the lymph nodes located in the armpits. These nodes basically control drainage in your whole upper body. For men, tight underwear might restrict flow to the testicles which might lead to infertility due to the increased temperature.
Select your food carefully
It had to be said. Most of the modern-day health problems that people battle come from the poor choice of food. Heavily-processed food contains a lot of unneeded stuff that your body has to dispose of. This just puts unnecessary stress on all of your systems. In order to function properly, try and avoid processed food, junk food, too much refined sugar, too much unhealthy fats. Basically any ’empty calorie’ food you can think of. It gives you little-to-no nutrients at the expense of unwanted stress. If you can totally avoid it. Replace that burger with avocados and boiled eggs and that soft drink with a freshly squeezed orange juice. Your body will thank you for it.
On the bright side, teas can help your Lymphatic System (as well as any other system in your body) immensely. Teas like Red Root, Cleavers tea and Echinacea are just some of the plants that when brewed can help you with your Lymph drainage. Try and combine them to best suit your taste. If you are however pregnant consult your doctor before consuming these.