Our lymphatic system is a delicate system that sits just below the surface of our skin. It is a subsystem of the circulatory system that consists of a complex network of vessels, tissues, and organs. Lymphatic drainage is vital for healthy skin and detoxification throughout the body.
The lymphatic system helps maintain fluid balance in the body by collecting excess fluid and particulate matter from tissues. When working and flushing out properly, we feel energized, nutrients are being delivered to our cells and toxins are freely moving out of the body. When our lymph system is not working correctly, we can feel sluggish, sick (think sore lymph nodes around the throat) and we can retain fluid throughout different areas of the body, face included.
Healthy lymph is a clear, watery fluid that flows out from capillary walls to bathe the cells in the tissues of the body.
It carries oxygen and nutrients to cells and contains white blood cells to fight infections. As lymph delivers nutrients, it also picks up waste such as carbon dioxide and toxins from our cells to deliver out of the body. When the lymph fails to function properly, it becomes sluggish or even stagnant. The clear lymph fluid becomes cloudy and thick, changing from a water like substance to milk to yogurt to cottage cheese.
Our lymph vessels normally draw fluid up from around the cells, collecting waste product throughout the body, then filtering through the lymph nodes, (mini-detox plants) and throughout the lymphatic system, draining back into the blood through the lymphatic channels. There are between 600-700 lymph nodes present in the average human body. It is the role of these nodes to filter the lymph before it can be returned to the circulatory system. Although these nodes can increase or decrease in size throughout life, nodes that have been damaged or destroyed do not regenerate.
When the lymphatic system is not working correctly, lymph builds up and causes swelling and fluid retention. The lymph system does not have a pump of it’s own so that is why exercise, movement, dry skin brushing, forms of massage, hydration and fluid balance are such important factors in keeping our lymph moving and draining correctly throughout the body. I’ve created a simple list below with a my top tips for healthy lymphatic movement practices you can easily corporate into your daily routines.
Lymphatic Drainage for Healthy Skin Tips
Rinsing with cold water at the end of your showers is a fantastic hydrotherapy practice. Cold showers, or when alternated between hot and cold water, will increase lymph circulation by contracting the lymph vessels when exposed to the cold and relaxing them when exposed to the heat. This essentially pumps out any lymph fluid that may be stagnate in your lymph vessels. Always end with cold water.
Facial Gua Sha
Gua Sha is an ancient Eastern Modality that uses a stone board/tool on the skin to create a light, intentional friction through specific techniques in order to stimulate blood flow, clear stagnation, tap into the energetic pathways of the face, melt facial tension, lift, sculpt and support the natural flow of lymphatic drainage.
Facial Gua sha is performed much lighter vs body Gua Sha to accommodate the delicate skin if the face and a daily gua sha practice will prevent fluid build up in the face. If you’d like to learn more about this skin transforming modality, I highly recommend my Fundamentals of Gua Sha Course. I also have some great tutorials through out my IG feed too!
Legs Up the Wall Pose
Legs up the wall is also a well known yoga asana, Viparita Karanialso. Lay down, simply placing the legs up the wall and create a 90 degree angle at the waist with back of legs resting on the wall. This reverses the effect of gravity and helps to drain the lymph towards the heart, increasing the rate in which it is cleaned and filtered. This pose is restorative, helps to reduce stress and induces sleep. A great practive before bed if you suffer from insomnia.
Lymph consists of mostly water. When the body is dehydrated, it becomes stagnant and congested. Water is the best way to stay hydrated. Adding lemon can help to re-mineralize lymph and increase detoxification in the body.
Loose Clothing and Wireless Bras
The lymphatic system is located just under the skin and is extremely delicate. Tight clothing and bras can cause congestion in the circulation and throughout lymph nodes. Opt for loose fitting clothing and wireles bras. Large clusters of lymph nodes are located under the armpits and around the breasts. It is vital this area stays free of constrictions and open for the lymph system to drain properly.