I get a lot of questions regarding recovery and it's one of my favorite topics. One concept often mentioned is lymphatic drainage.
What is the lymphatic system?
Let's first discuss the lymphatic system. It is part of the circulatory and immune system and is made up of vessels, organs, and tissues. The lymphatic system removes toxins and waste products from the body, protects from foreign bacterias, and maintains fluid levels in the body by moving a fluid called lymph through the bloodstream.
What is lymphatic drainage?
Lymphatic drainage is a massage technique that uses light pressure and long strokes across muscle groups to increase the flow of lymph. There are also ways to lymphatic drain without massage.
This technique is used to drain and reduce toxins and other harmful fluids in the body. By increasing the lymph circulation, waste products such as lactic acid are also removed!
How to begin
Ok, so now let's try it!
Here are some great ways to lymphatic drain:
- Regular exercise: working out increases blood flow and lymph circulation, allowing the body to flush out toxins and waste products
- Inversions (leg raise): since the lymphatic system works with gravity and does not have its own "pump," inverting the body is a great way to increase lymph circulation; lay on your back and rest your legs straight up on the wall for 10-15 minutes
- hot & cold showers: by changing your body temperature so dramatically, your blood vessels alternate from dilating to constricting and this acts as a catalyst for lymphatic circulation and drainage
- dry brushing: doing something like dry brushing helps increase circulation; aside from exfoliating your skin, dry brushing uses its coarse bristles to open skin pores and encourage sweating, which reduces the amount of toxins in your body
- diet: some foods you want to include more of to promote a healthy lymphatic system are avocados, garlic, almonds, and leafy veggies
I personally incorporate the leg raise as much as possible because it's easy and you can do it anywhere while answering texts or emails! You can also use that time to meditate! When I have time, I also try to alternate between a hot bath and cold shower. Lastly, I want to get into dry brushing, I haven't yet but I'll definitely write a blog post about it when I do!