I often look back at my past self in amazement, I cannot believe how much my lifestyle has evolved. The sheer volume of valuable information I’ve managed to absorb in order to change my health is staggering.
For a majority of my life I was walking around in this body that I barely understood. I knew NOTHING about how it worked or what was going on behind the curtain. When I think about it now, I’m so thankful that fate led me down a path that would introduce me to my own body and system. I feel that in order to take ownership of your health, you have to understand what you’re working with!
When I was diagnosed with lymphoma, I quickly became familiar with the inner workings of all things lymphatic. It was my first experience in gaining an understanding of my body in a way that empowered me. With that knowledge, I was able to begin to change the direction I was headed in. Helping others understand how their lymph system works and how they can use that understanding to influence their health, is near and dear to my heart.
Your lymph system is a vital component of the immune system and acts kind of like a detox circulatory system. Unlike the circulatory system which contains blood, it contains a fluid called lymph. This “lymph” moves through your body helping you to eliminate toxins and protect you from pathogens. As it flows, it collects bacteria, viruses, and other wastes and removes them from your system. It also helps carry oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
Keeping your lymph system moving is pertinent to its function. Unlike the circulatory system, there’s nothing “pumping” the fluid through. This means if you don’t somehow manually move your lymphatic system, your lymph stays stagnant. A stagnant lymph system is comparable to having a clogged sewer line in your home. You may not know it immediately, but eventually all the toxic junk will build up and cause serious problems. One of the biggest problems that arrises is cancer.
Luckily, you have total control over your lymph system as long as you understand what it needs from you! All your lymph wants is a little attention and a little bit of assistance moving throughout your system. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time but it’s important to get some lymph care in everyday.
Here are a few of my favorite way to make sure I’m minding my lymphatics.
Dry brushing is one way to stimulate lymph flow. Using a natural bristle brush, start at the feet and brush in a circular motion. Slowly work your way up the body. Always brush towards the heart, which is the area where lymph actually drains. I recommend spending 3-5 minutes dry brushing before you shower.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
This gentle pressure massage technique allows fluids to be drained from the areas treated. It’s often used in clinical situation where lymph nodes are clogged or have been removed to help lymph fluid through the system. You can either seek out a professional or perform on yourself. Using gentle strokes with just the pressure of your hand, start at the feet and work your way up.
Lymph relies on muscle contraction to move fluid through the the system and prevent stagnation. Yoga is great because it tends to promote alternating contraction and relaxation that’s gentle yet strong. It requires both large and small muscle contraction. This paired with the variation in position creates the perfect environment for lymph flow.
As you may be able to imagine, fluid with a greater concentration of water will flow with much more ease. Imagine a dry mucky river bed that hasn’t seen rain, that’s what your lymph system becomes when you’re dehydrated! Making sure you have adequate water and hydrating foods throughout the day is important.
Another type of movement that’s super beneficial for lymph is bouncing. Basically any type of bouncing motion will help lymph flow through the system more efficiently. Jumping rope or simply bouncing up and down can do the trick. What this does is it breaks up any small bits of stagnation that cause back up.
How to integrate lymph-care into your busy life
Our lives are hectic, and it can be challenging to squeeze even the smallest additions into our routines sometimes– trust me I feel you. Minding my lymph is a non-negotiable for me and I try to hit a few of these daily. Work on adding just a couple minutes of rebounding exercise or 5-10 minutes of yoga every other day.
This is self-care at it’s finest! YOU deserve to feel vibrant and healthy so don’t hesitate to put this stuff at the top of your priority list.