How do we keep our lymph fluid healthy, clear and free flowing? First, a quick summary on how it moves. Our lymphatic system doesn't have a pump like our circulatory system does. The heart pumps our blood but what moves our lymph? We actually have to move our lymph! Lymph moves when we move our bodies, such as during exercise, when we breath or when we have someone manually pump it, hence - Manual Lymphatic Drainage.
Here are a few simple self care techniques you can do to ensure your lymph is moving like it should be. They are easy, inexpensive and the return is huge!
Of course when we are talking about lymph fluid we have to talk about water! If our bodies are dehydrated they actually hold onto fluid. Dehydration also causes our lymph to be more thick so it doesn't flow as freely. Staying hydrated is paramount! The typical 8 glasses of water a day doesn't ring true for everyone. For instance, a 6'4" 350 lb man would need quite a bit more water than a 5'4" 130 lb woman. A good general rule of thumb is to go by half of your body weight in ounces of water. I know, I know...that sounds like a lot, but it's really not. Especially when you consider your body is about 60% water. Make sure you are hydrating each day with pure, refreshing H20.
Movement is essential for lymph flow. There are actually very specific exercises that are great to get your lymph moving. The number one recommended exercise to push lymph through it's natural drainage channels is rebounding (jumping on a mini-trampoline). Just a few minutes a day of gentle bouncing will do amazing things for your lymph flow. The pressure from the force of the trampoline when you come down that propels you back up pushes lymph beautifully towards the drainage channels. Another super effective exercise is swimming or walking in water, which moves lymph in huge volumes. The hydrostatic pressure, which is greater at the bottom and gradually lessens towards the surface, acts like a pump to move the lymph. You may remember when you were a kid swimming in the pool or lake, how many times you had to jump out to run to the bathroom! That is actually how our bodies get rid of the toxins and excess fluid, you pass them through your bladder. So, If you are feeling a bit puffy and bloated, go get some aquatics in your life! If you are new to exercise, even gentle movement is better than no movement.
Deep breathing is also key in moving lymph efficiently. The largest lymph duct, the thoracic duct, runs right up through our thoracic or chest area. When you practice deep abdominal breathing, it assists the lymph fluid in moving more proficiently up through it's last channel, where it ultimately dumps filtered lymph into the veins near our clavicle to rejoin the bloodstream. Taking about 5-10 minutes a day to focus on deep abdominal breathing will be extremely beneficial not only in moving lymph but it also calms the nervous system and increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout you body. If you get into the habit of doing this as you are going to bed, you might fall into a lovely sleep! Win - win!
In summary; stay hydrated, move your body and just breathe...........