What is Lymph and Why Should It Be Stimulated?
When it comes to facial or body massage, the lymphatic system is often mentioned as it can cause swelling when it's not functioning properly.
So, what is lymph, what important functions does it perform, and why should it be stimulated?
Lymph is a type of connective tissue in the form of a colorless, viscous fluid. Its main function is to transport proteins, salts, and metabolites to the blood. On average, our body contains about 2 liters of lymphatic fluid. Lymph consists of lymphatic capillaries, vessels, and nodes and is present throughout our body, except in the brain, spinal cord, bone marrow, and cartilage.
Lymph moves only upwards and relies on muscle movement and the contraction of vessel walls. Sometimes, lymph can stagnate in this process, and it requires additional stimulation, such as massage.
There are numerous reasons for lymph stagnation: various illnesses, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption, smoking, and even a high intake of salt and carbohydrates in the diet. Stagnation leads to significant disruptions in our body and manifests as swelling in our face and body.
How to Maintain a Healthy Lymphatic System
- Drink an adequate amount of water to prevent dehydration and help lymph move freely throughout the body.
- Physical activity. Engaging in yoga is an excellent way to improve the function of the lymphatic system. One of the most effective exercises is the "Sun Salutation," which some cardio surgeons even recommend doing every morning. Other beneficial activities include walking, running, Pilates, swimming, and breathing exercises.
- Massage. Gua sha massage works well for stimulating the lymphatic system. The key is to perform the massage in the direction of lymph flow: from bottom to top. Start the ritual from your feet and slowly move upwards. It's important for all movements to be smooth and gentle. For body massage, a gua sha tool with a wavy edge is used. Each side of the tool helps work on different parts of the body. The same rules apply to facial massage: all movements should be performed from bottom to top along the massage lines.
Massage relaxes muscles, dilates blood and lymphatic vessels, stimulates lymph flow, prevents fluid retention, and allows cells to receive nutrients more quickly.
All of these actions have a supportive effect and help eliminate cosmetic manifestations of lymph stagnation, such as swelling. However, if you have more serious issues, it's necessary to consult a specialist and receive individualized treatment.