• Regina Arzate

How to clean your lymph system

Watch water flowing in the world: streams join into fast-flowing rivers, which empty out into seaside wetlands. In our bodies, arterial rivers push water rich in nutrients into a branched system of drainage channels: the lymphatic system. Its origins are at the meeting point of blood and tissue, and it serves a vital role in keeping those tissues healthy and immune function strong. Our lymph flows everywhere--even in the brain--and a clear, strong flow yields wide-ranging benefits as a result.

The first key to flow is movement. Gentle exercise, massage, and techniques that physically squeeze and push the lymph go a long way towards maintaining healthy drainage.

Our lymphatic system lacks a central pump to keep the fluid moving, relying instead on muscular contraction to keep up the flow. Gentle movement is all that is required: a ten minute walk is perfect. Incorporate some slow, deep breathing during your walks: the biggest lymph channel in the body, known as the thoracic duct, relies on the bellows-like movement of the diaphragm.

Other options for gentle exercise include yoga, which encourages rhythmic stretching and contraction of the lower and upper body, coupled with deep breathing--an ideal combination.

After your walk or yoga session, consider “inversion” therapy: the practice of raising our feet above our heads gives the lymph a break from its constant struggle against gravity. You can find inversion tables that help set your body into this position. You can practice head/shoulder stand poses from yoga. But an easier way is called “legs up a wall” (a modified yoga pose). All you have to do is lie on your back, head away from the wall. Put your feet up on the wall, and then scoot as close as you can to the wall, trying to keep your legs as straight as possible, flexing at the hips. While this can be an intense stretch, all the lymph requires is inversion--so no need to push it. Relax there for 5-15 minutes--great after a walk or run.


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