How do I improve my lymphatic drainage?

So, you've read my previous blog post, and you think you may have some lymphatic stagnation (or maybe you're VERY sure you do!). The next question, of course, is - 'so, what do I do about that Lucy??'.

There are actually lots of little ways to improve lymphatic drainage that you can fit into your everyday activities, and to be honest I recommend these practices even if you're having regular lymphatic drainage massages as you'll find they boost the effects.

The first step is... Move more! The circulatory system has the heart to pump blood around the body, but the lymphatic system doesn't have a pump - it relies on muscular movement to keep lymph flowing. This is why you'll see stagnation if your job involves long periods of sitting. The good news is that this movement doesn't need to be dramatic or strenuous - regularly getting up and moving about a bit will get the lymph flowing. Try setting a timer for every 20 minutes and just get up for a glass of water (you probably already know you should be drinking more water, right?). Rebounding is also an excellent movement for lymphatic flow, and yoga can be helpful too, especially the inverted poses.

Deep breathing activates the deep abdominal nodes, but you must breathe deep into the belly - place a hand on your abdomen and make sure that you breathe in deeply enough to feel your abdomen expand with the breath. 4-6 deep breaths is enough, and if you have time for nothing else, we always have time to take a few breaths.

Finally, you can perform some simple self massage movements. I demonstrate these on my instagram page @ljm.therapies, but the main things to remember with lymphatic drainage is to first open the termini at the collarbone, then to clear the main nodes located in the armpits and hips, then use a very gentle pressure to stroke towards the nodes. Something people often don't realise is that you start close to the nodes and gradually work outwards - and the pressure should be light enough to just push a penny over your skin. The lymphatic vessels are mostly very close to the surface of the skin so you really don't need to press hard. Finally, make your massage strokes really S L O W! Lymph moves quite slowly, so you have to give it time to slowly move behind your fingers. So remember: Clear the nodes, start close and move outwards, go slow, go light.

Hopefully that gives you a few places to start when aiming to improve your lymphatic flow!

(disclaimer: Not intended as medical advice. Not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Contact your doctor before starting a new exercise programme, or with any concerns).

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