The lymphatic system is, in my opinion, the most over-looked component to a healthy functioning body and immune system!
To provide a simple analogy for the lymphatic system; for each cell in the body there is a blood vessel bringing fresh groceries (nutrition) to the cell, and a lymphatic vessel taking all the garbage (byproducts from cell function) away from that cell. This cycle allows the cell to use the groceries effectively and maintain full cell function. If the lymphatic vessel is sluggish in any way, then the cell (and the space around it) gets "congested" with garbage. This prevents the cell from using its groceries effectively and thereby decreasing its function drastically! Multiply this situation by 1 trillion cells and you have a systemic issue.
The lymphatic circulation is guided by gravity and movement, that means anyone who is adequately conditioned, moves regularly and effectively throughout the day and uses their correct posture will have great lymphatic circulation. Anyone who does not, will over time create congestion, which presents as a decrease in energy, slow metabolism, poor rejuvenation and recovery, an ineffective immune system, sluggish circulation and digestive function. All leading to dis-ease and poor quality of life!
I see this in a number of patients who visit my office;
- Chronically sick young children (recurrent ENT and respiratory infection, multiple antibiotic usage);
- Chronic pain patients (fibromyalgia, arthritis, neurological pains);
- Chronic system dysfunction patients (asthma, diabetes, hypertension, IBS, obesity etc).
The good news is that there are solutions to a sluggish lymphatic system!
- The basic lifestyle of eat well, think well, move well and rest well;
- Chiropractic care & lymphatic massage;
- Specific lymphatic stimulation exercises.
Lymphatic Stimulation Exercises
These are applicable at any age, obviously force and amplitude will be altered based on the age and condition of the person. I recommend these exercises to be performed 3 to 5 times per day for about a minute or so each.
- Push the knees into the chest strong enough that the breathing is compressed.
- Push inwards and upwards with the palm of your hand on the belly button; this should also impact the breathing.
- Push downwards on the sternum - much gentler than one would in CPR - to feel a little spring in the sternum.
- Use circular movements to massage from behind the ears down the big muscle of the neck towards the front of the neck. Then move outwards along the length of the collarbone, above and below the collarbone.
Bouncing on a rebounder trampoline or on an exercise ball for 5 minutes (again 3 to 5 times per day) also assists. If you are working with a baby, you can hold the baby while bouncing - please just make sure they have adequate head stability or support. A little bit of time spent each day doing these exercises will get your lymphatic clean and clear!