How to increase lymph flow if you can’t use a trampoline?
Welcome to this months IRQTC Q&A newsletter. Thank you to all who have written this month with questions and updates on how you are using Tai Chi and Qigong in your practice and life. We love hearing from you so keep it coming!
This month’s question comes from Peggy H. in response to our recent training newsletter on resiliency. She asks, “What do you think about a bungee chair to bounce in to get the lymph moving when you can not stand on a small trampoline?”
Considering that lymph is circulated around the body by four primary methods(gravity, muscle contraction, smooth vessel wall elasticity, and abdominal breathing), lets consider each one in reference to your question.
Obviously lymph and gravity have a direct relationship which can be noted by increased lower extremity edema during prolonged dependent positioning and is the reason why some people do head stands to enhance lymph and blood circulation to the brain. Through repeated bouncing, I believe that lymph is moved more efficiently by increasing the effects of gravity towards the feet on the lower half of the bounce cycle and essentially reversing the flow of lymph towards the head on the upper half of the bounce cycle. So for gravity – Yes!
We know that the mechanical action of muscle contraction/relaxation cycles and the increased demand for cellular metabolism both enhance lymph circulation. Active trampoline bouncing definitely fills both of these criteria, so if a seated participant is actively using lower extremity musculature to facilitate the bounce then YES!
Smooth Vessel Wall Elasticity
What the heck is this anyway? Lymph vessel walls are dilated or constricted via smooth muscle function, which is mediated by the autonomic nervous system. Parasympathetic dominance encourages vasodilation and when the vessel walls stretch sufficiently they will recoil and propel lymph. If the bouncing participant is relaxed and smiling 🙂 then YES!
Remember that of all four natural lymph circulation methods, breathing is the most potent. This of course ties in with other factors as abdominal breathing both creates a parasympathetic shift and increases cellular metabolism. Considering this, if our bouncer is performing abdominal breathing while actively pushing with their legs and having a good time than we have the perfect recipe for a lymph pumping extravaganza!
Do you have a question, comment, or announcement? Share it with your IRQTC community and together we can make a grass roots difference in health care from the ground up!
Originally published April 2015.