Unlike the blood constantly circulating around our body, the lymphatic system does not have a pump like the heart to keep it flowing freely, instead relying on muscle contraction to keep it moving.
The most effective way to promote a healthy, fully functioning lymphatic system is through lymphatic massage, but with the UK currently stuck in an unprecedented lockdown, here’s Co Founder of Body Ballancer, Jules Willcocks’ tips to help get your lymphatic system moving from the comfort of your own home:
- Simple activities such as dancing to your favourite songs, climbing stairs, and performing household chores is enough to get the lymphatic system moving.
- If you fancy a bit of fresh air then gardening, walking (especially brisk walking while swinging your arms), jogging or cycling are all perfect forms of exercise to liven up your lymphatic system.
- Channel your inner child with a few minutes on a trampoline or a bit of vigorous skipping—both a really fun way to boost your lymphatic system, as well as providing a fantastic cardio workout.
- Stretching also promotes muscle movement. Particularly useful are stretches that focus on the neck and shoulders. Neck rolls, head tilts, shoulder rolls and shoulder shrugs are four very simple but effective stretches for boosting lymphatic flow in this area.
- Stomach crunches are also very effective due to the high concentration of lymphatic vessels in the abdomen. Lie flat on the floor with knees bent and feet flat to the surface and cross your arms loosely over the chest. Raise your head and shoulders up slightly and repeat eight to 12 times.
- Breathing helps move our lymphatic fluid and increases the elimination of toxins and waste. All you need to do is breathe deeply in through the nose and hold for four counts, then exhale through the mouth for two counts. Repeat two or three times several times a day. You can do this either sitting or lying down. As you get better at this, you can increase the time—for example breathe in for a count of five, hold for a count of 15 and exhale for a count of 10.
- Stress is one of the major causes of poor lymphatic health as it leads to an increase in the production of the hormone cortisol, which is known to affect lymphatic flow. Activities such as meditation, yoga, Pilates, practicing mindfulness and getting plenty of rest are key to combating stress and anxiety.
- Dry skin brushing is a great way to release toxins by stimulating the tiny lymphatic vessels that sit just below the skin. Best done first thing in the morning before showering, begin with the soles of the feet and brush with upward strokes as you move up the legs and towards the heart. Use the same method on your upper body, beginning with the hands up your arms. The routine should take you no more than five to 10 minutes. For best results, look to repeat three to five times a week.
- Keep hydrated. Yes, this seems to be the answer to all ills, but when it comes to the lymphatic system it cannot be underestimated. As lymphatic fluid is made up of 96 per cent water, even mild to moderate dehydration can have a significant effect, causing stagnation and congestion. And remember, we are already dehydrated when we feel thirsty so try not to wait until then to reach for the water bottle.
- Avoid adding to the detoxifying burden of your lymphatic system by avoiding sugary, processed additive-laden foods such as ready meals, fizzy drinks and confectionery. There is no time like the present to give cooking from scratch a try while confined by Coronavirus, so why not use the time to improve your cookery skills and diet!
Don’t forget your faceJade rollers have been used for thousands of years to improve the skin’s health and radiance. There are many on the market, including the Jade Facial Roller from Herbivore, which can help stimulate lymphatic drainage while reducing puffy cheeks and under eye bags and improving skin elasticity.
After cleansing and toning, smooth a few drops of facial oil over skin. The oil helps the facial roller to glide across skin more easily, while the roller helps the oil absorb more effectively into skin to increase its benefits. Store the roller in the fridge for a short time before using for extra cooling effects.
Jules Willcocks is the co-founder of Body Ballancer Systems UK Ltd, importers and distributors of the Ballancer lymphatic massage system. bodyballancer.co.uk