Your lymphatic system plays a really vital role in the overall health of your skin, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few simple practices that you can do to stimulate your lymphatic system. But first, let’s talk about what the lymphatic system is, because many people don’t understand this very vital system within the body.
What is the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is the drainage system of the body. It’s the system in the body where white blood cells are manufactured, and cellular waste and toxins are picked up and removed from the body. In the skin, the lymphatic system assists with cleansing the cells, removing waste from the skin’s cells, as well as helping with cellular turnover, meaning that it helps the skin to exfoliate itself.
The lymphatic system has a clear fluid that runs through it called lymph fluid. Anytime that you have a wound on the skin and you see that clear fluid as the wound is healing (a lot of people will call it weep), that is actually lymph fluid. Similar to how our circulatory system has blood moving through it, our lymphatic system has lymph fluid running through it.
The lymphatic system and circulatory actually work together, but there’s one major difference between the two systems. Our circulatory system has the heart which pumps the blood around. Without the heart, the blood wouldn’t be able to move through the body in the way that it does. Unlike the circulatory system, the Lymphatic System has no pump, so lymph fluid does not get pumped around automatically. Considering the lymphatic system plays such a vital role in our health, it’s really important that that fluid be pumped around the body, so that means it’s up to us to get it pumping by stimulating it daily. That means that the choices that we make each day have a huge impact on the functioning of the lymphatic system and our overall body health and skin health. Did you know that? Most people don’t!
The main way to get the lymphatic system to work efficiently is for us to stimulate it daily and basically force it to work, although I’d rather say “support” instead of force. Force and health should never be in the same sentence together.
Stimulating the Lymphatic System for Improved Functioning
There are only two ways to stimulate the lymphatic system:
- Movement, and
- Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as deep belly breathing
When our lymphatic system is not being stimulated, the lymphatic system becomes stagnant and the fluid just sits there without flowing or running through our system. This can cause a buildup of cellular waste and toxins in the body, fluid retention, weight gain, dull, devitalized looking skin and sagging skin.
You can think of this stagnant fluid as a murky pond versus running river. If you’re stuck out in the wilderness, for example, and you see a waterfall, we know that the waterfall is usually safe to drink from because running water is known to always stay relatively clean. Whereas if you saw a murky pond where the water was not moving, we know that water tends to be dirtier. The lymph fluid works the same… we want to keep it moving for it to stay clean and fulfill its important job.
When you exercise and you move your body, you stimulate your lymphatic system, the fluid moves all the way through your body and through your skin delivering white blood cells to where they are needed and it also picks up cellular waste and toxins along the way in order to be cleansed and removed from the body. The lymphatic fluid, when flowing properly, comes up through the neck into the face and then it goes back down the neck on the other side towards the heart where it turns back into blood and is cleansed. If your lymphatic system isn’t flowing because of a lack of movement or because you’re shallow breathing, the fluid, just like the murky pond, is going to become stagnant because it’s not moving any of the waste and toxins that it has picked up along the way.
So, if we want healthy, glowing skin that is fully capable of cleansing and exfoliating itself without disruption, while getting rid of cellular waste from the skin cells, it’s vital that this system be working efficiently and that we stimulate it daily.
My Top 3 Lymphatic Exercises
Like I said, there are two ways to stimulate the lymphatic system, which are movement and diaphragmatic breathing.
Daily walks, jogging, jumping on a trampoline, stretching… Anything that gets the body moving and the fluid flowing in the body. This is one of many reasons why exercise is so vital for our health. In this video, I show a really quick and super effective way to get your lymph moving each day.
I recommend doing this exercise first thing in the morning, as often as you can:
Movement also includes massage. Regular self massage of the face and neck will work really well to help improve the look and functioning of the skin. I always recommend daily massage for the face and neck whenever possible because it’s also a great way to stimulate the lymphatic system and relax the nervous system.
Starting with the neck, like I do in the video below, is really important because 1/3 of our body’s lymph nodes (we have over 700 lymph nodes) are located in the neck between the lower part of the ear and the collarbone. Puffiness under the eyes and puffiness in the face are caused from stagnant lymphatic fluid. We have to massage the neck first in order to open up the pathways for that fluid to drain away from the eyes and face. Self massage should be performed each day as part of a proper skin care routine.
This is a simple exercise to stimulate your lymphatic system in the neck to help reduce puffiness under the eyes and neck:
Breathwork is a large part of my teaching because of its ability to override and regulate the nervous system, and stimulate the lymphatic system which in my opinion, are the two most important system’s to focus on when looking at skin health.
Breathwork stimulates the lymphatic system in the belly, which is really important because that’s where the next largest portion of our lymphatic system is located. Diaphragmatic should be done daily, and with practice, you should start to notice that yourself breathing from the diaphragm more regularly without thought. Unfortunately, most people breath into their chest rather than the diaphragm.
In this video, I teach you a simple breath exercise that you can perform multiple times a day. This exercise will stimulate your lymphatic system and also bring your nervous system into balance:
The last thing I’ll mention here, which I’ll just mention briefly because I have an entire blog post on this, is making sure that we have a healthy and balanced nervous system.
If you try the above lymphatic exercises, I recommend doing all 3 of them daily, or as often as you can. Once you start implementing them into your routine regular, I’d love to hear your experience with them!