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Lymphatic Massage Can Boost Your Immune System

September 30, 2020

I have always had a fascination with lymphatic massage and the incredible power of how such a light touch can have such an impact on our health. Our lymphatic system is incredible and many people do not know how powerful it really is. The system helps make magical white blood cells called lymphocytes that produce antibodies which help build our body’s immune system and defend it against attacks from viruses, germs and bacteria.

How Your Lymphatic System Gets Clogged
During the recent pandemic, I was not as good to my body as I should have been, a lack of exercise and ingesting too many processed foods did not do me any favors. I started to notice that my feet and ankles were swelling by the end of the day. My poor posture and being at a desk all day was not helping. My lymphatic system was clogged and I knew exactly what I needed to do to correct it. I decided to make this a fun project and enlisted the help of my dear friend and coworker, Lead Instructor at Cortiva Institute, Sandy Cook. Sandy agreed to work on me while also making it a great learning moment for our students. Over the next five days, Sandy performed the slow, rhythmic light strokes of lymphatic massage and gave me a task list of things to do at home: drink more water, exercise, try dry brushing, and take hot and cold showers as well as watch what I was eating. I immediately noticed the benefits, more pep in my step, loss of several pounds of water weight, and I am sleeping better. It is making me more conscious of what I am exposing my body to daily.

How the Lymphatic System Works
The lymphatic system is a crucial system in how our body fights off bacteria, viruses, and other things that can invade our bodies. The lymph vessels work to pick up fluids between the cell spaces in our bodies and help move them while neutralizing the waste and toxins present. The lymph also transports nutrients and oxygen to the cells so not only does it take away the bad, it brings in the good too. Have you ever sat on an airplane and noticed after a long flight that your feet and ankles are swollen? When our bodies do not move, it makes it harder for the lymph system to flow effectively because it does not have its own pump like the heart does and swelling can be a result.

What is Lymphatic Massage?
Lymphatic massage stimulates the body’s lymph vessels and gets the lymph moving more effectively. It is done with a lighter pressure and with circular motions in a rhythmic pattern. The lymph vessels lay just below our skin, if we go too deep in pressure, especially if there was an injury at that site, it can damage those vessels. Our natural instincts are to rub something hard when it hurts, and with an injury that can damage the lymph vessels and further impede the system from working properly and cause additional pain and swelling. That is why it is crucial for a licensed massage therapist to be the one performing this type of work.

Training to be a massage therapist is not just learning about the muscles. At Cortiva we also train on the other body systems because they are all inter-related. Something may hurt in one area, but upon investigation it may be something else that is causing the pain. This is often the case with the lymphatic system, a clogged system can manifest in ways that we would normally not imagine. Insomnia, depression, swelling, weight gain, chronic fatigue, sinus infections and even arthritis are all areas that can be helped with lymphatic massage. Our bodies are exposed to an astronomical amount of toxins on a daily basis; combine that with the tendency to sit for too long at our desks and a lack of exercise and it will impact our health.

Our world has changed dramatically over the past few months. One thing that gives me hope is that massage therapists will be out there helping heal the world through the power of touch. Keeping our lymphatic systems working effectively helps our bodies fight off what they can and helps keep them strong. It is such a joy for me to see my students graduate and go out into this world knowing the impact they will be making.

Submitted by Elisabeth Johnson. Elisabeth is the Campus Director of Cortiva Institute in Cromwell, CT. Cortiva Institute offers both a massage therapy and an esthetics program and is currently enrolling for the fall sessions. She can be reached at 860.667.1886 or at: elisabethj@cortiva.edu. Elisabeth resides in the Stony Creek section of Branford with her other half Chris, his three kids and their dog Juniper. She has a love of hiking, the Red Sox, Patriots, and spending time at the ocean.

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