Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and get active. In this article, you’ll see why being active is so beneficial for your health. Just a note – Sue Robson will be on vacation for the month of July. Should you have any pressing concerns or muscle “emergencies”, you are welcome to contact us for an appointment with either Heather Castator or Linda Pearce.

The Essential Lymph

When you have the flu or a cold, why do you feel pressure, brain fog, and muscle and joint soreness? Your lymph system!

The lymphatic system accepts waste materials and extra fluid from around the cells and carries it away, upward toward the heart. This cleans up the area, reducing inflammation, and allows the immune system a chance to inspect and work on the toxins residing there. The main pump for the lymph fluid is physical movement. So where we run into trouble is when we are inactive. Sitting a lot does not allow for adequate pumping of this fluid which then creates swelling, soreness and stiffness.

There are a great number of lymph nodes around the digestive tract. If you are not eating well, there is more waste material that these lymph nodes have to remove from the abdomen. A poor diet can not only create swelling in the abdominal area and down into the legs (and the appearance of cellulite), but can affect bowel function and elimination, digestion and create food sensitivities. That, then, creates more lymph congestion and swelling and can impact other organs and glands. You get the picture.

At the other end of the lymph system is the heart. The lymph fluid makes its way up to the collarbone area where it then drains back into the bloodstream, and almost immediately flows to your heart. If the lymph fluid is still “dirty”, this can create a stickiness in and around the heart which can challenge the heart muscle to work at 100% capacity and ease. To protect the heart, the muscles near this drainage area will tighten up to slow down how much and how quickly the dirty lymph gets dumped back into the bloodstream. These muscles are in the upper back, shoulder (or upper trapezius) and lower neck. Many people that come for massage are office workers, sitting at a desk all day. Through poor posture, dehydration, and little movement, the lymph system becomes sluggish which creates the potential for upper back, shoulder, and neck stiffness and pain, along with headaches and mood disorders. Sound familiar?
So, besides getting some regular movement whether through walking, using a rebounder (mini trampoline), yoga, stretching, foam rolling, etc.; what else can be done? There are some strategies that are helpful in keeping the lymph fluid flowing:

  1. Swedish Massage is helpful in mechanically moving the lymph fluid on a very general level to alleviate sore muscles and joints.
  2. Lymph Decongestion Therapy works more specifically on each individual node to take it out of spasm and allow it to begin draining again. Linda Pearce provides this technique for a more permanent solution to swelling, congestion, tension and pain.
  3. Visceral Manipulation is a hands - on technique to encourage healthy digestion and lymph drainage from the abdominal area and heart. Linda Pearce combines this technique during a lymph session for best results.
  4. Drink adequate amounts of water. Yes, at least 8 glasses per day of water for most of us is essential.
  5. Green tea; 1 – 2 cups per day. Remember, caffeine acts as a diuretic so for every cup of green tea, have at least one extra cup of water.
  6. Eating foods that do not cause an immune response: foods that you digest well. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, berries, lemon juice, coconut oil, omega 3 foods (like certain fish and hemp seeds), spirulina, chlorella, ginger, turmeric, and garlic – these are all generally supportive of the liver and the lymph. Food sensitivity testing can be done at our clinic by Linda Pearce.
  7. Deep breathing also helps to pump the lymph and detoxify, especially in the abdominal area. It can also help deal with stress which also negatively affects lymph flow. Allow the abdominal area to move outward when you inhale.
  8. Infrared saunas. Allows for deep heat penetration into the tissues, allowing more sweating and more toxin removal so that the lymph system has less work to do. Or, soak for 15 – 20 minutes in a detox bath with 2 cups each of Epsom salts, sea salt, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda dissolved into a full tub of water.
  9. Reflex areas for lymph mobilization. You can gently massage sore muscles that are just below your collarbone, along your sternum or breast bone, and along the front of the shoulders to help with drainage for the neck, shoulders and head. Hold or massage each point until it softens and feels less intensely sore. This is just a quick fix but can give temporary relief for headaches and upper back and neck tension and pain.

For a more detailed and individualized plan of action for your lymphatic system and health, contact Linda Pearce RMT BA BSc, at Touch Works London massage clinic: 519-679-4994. Info@touchworkslondon.com

Newsletter Archives

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Inflammation Pt. 2 2015.09

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