We’re often surprised by how many people are still not tuned in to their lymphatic health. Most of us wern’t taught about lymphatic health in school and too few fitness and wellness practitioners include it in their offerings.
With immunity at the forefront of health discussions like never before, we’re more than thrilled for beloved L.A. practitioner, Lisa Gainsley of The Lymphatic Message, to be dropping her first book, THE BOOK OF LYMPH: Self-Care Practices to Enhance Immunity, Health, and Beauty.
To celebrate, we asked Lisa to share this morning routine for lymphatic health with us below (and above in video). Her practical and easy to follow along advice will get you started if you’re new to the concept and might just provide you with new insights if you’re always practicing a routine…
A Morning Routine for Lymphatic Health
One of the most powerful things you can do for your health every morning is utilize the principles of lymphatic drainage.The lymphatic system is one of the ‘highways’ of the immune system, transporting excess fluid that contains bacteria, viruses and pathogens to “filtering stations” (lymph nodes). From there, the body can remove unwanted waste that builds up daily.
Here’s what I do in the morning to get my lymph juices flowing:
I start my day with lemon water. It aids digestion and helps maintain the pH levels of your body. The Lymphatic System regulates the fluid balance of your body and depends on proper hydration for optimal lymph flow. So keep drinking water all day long!
Dry-brushing. I dry-brush my body and my face in the morning. If your lymph system is congested, it will be reflected in your skin – think puffy eyes, saggy chin and fine lines. Since a large number of lymph nodes are located near your ears and under your chin in your neck, giving yourself a lymphatic drainage facial can help revitalize your skin, regenerate cells and afford you a healthy glow because you are eliminating toxins. Dry-brushing your body will remove dead skin cells, improve the appearance of your skin, aid digestion and give you more energy!
Lymphatic cupping…is a great way to improve the appearance of cellulite and break up fat deposits around the thighs. It’s an affordable routine to add to your lymphatic massage practice. A 2010 study showed manual lymph drainage can reduce cellulite and shrink your thigh circumference- so count me in!
Lymphatic self-massage… will accelerate the clearing of stagnant fluid and waste from the tissues of your body. I start my day by massaging the lymph node clusters in my neck, my ears, the axillary nodes in the armpit and the top of my thigh. Your lymph nodes are where your immune cells mount a defense against bacteria, viruses and pathogens in your body to keep you healthy. You can accelerate lymphatic circulation in your body by massaging the hinges of your body where your lymph nodes are located.
Deep breathing. I take a few deep, diaphragmatic breaths from my belly up to my heart to activate the largest lymph vessel in the body- the thoracic duct which is responsible for absorbing fat in the gut and takes ¾ of your lymph fluid back to your bloodstream. Also, it helps bring your body into the rest & digest parasympathetic state which can reduce anxiety and keep you calm throughout the day. I often take mid-day breaks, go outside and lie in the sunshine to get Vitamin D while practicing breathwork. It helps avoid the mid-day slump and revitalitizes my energy and creative juices.
I move my body… even just a little bit every morning. The Lymphatic system doesn’t have a central pump to move it through the body the way the heart pumps the blood, so your lymph depends on musculo-skeletal contracts to propel fluid through its vast network. That means massage, rebounding, dry brushing and cupping all help to move the lymph through the body for you.
I alternate from simple neck stretches to brisk walks in nature, yoga (inversions and twists are especially beneficial for lymph circulation), biking, dancing, swimming and rebounding on a trampoline, depending on my mood and what I have time for.
I pay attention. It’s important to keep track of changes in your body. I encourage you to massage your body so you are familiar with your inner terrain. This is also key for the early detection of any abnormalities which can be addressed right at the get-go.
Tips for Beginning a Lymphatic Self-Massage Practice:
+ Massage slowly and so gently (a little more than a feather, but no more than a nickel.
+ Always use a C-shaped motion: a crescent or U-shaped stroke, instead of a full circular motion will get better results.
+ Massage yourself in the direction towards your lymph nodes (see the video for more).
+ Finally, prioritize time for joy and self-love. What I’ve learned in my life and in my career is that self-care isn’t an indulgence, it’s a necessity. It boosts your immune system, brings happiness and a desire to share your gifts with the world — and we all need your unique talents in this world!