What is The Lymphatic System, What does it do, & How does it work?

Lymph Drainage Massage

What is the Lymphatic System?

Our lymphatic system is a net work of vessels that run from our heads to our toes, Or from the cranial to our phalanges of the metatarsals. It is made up of lymphatic tissue, lymphatic vessels and lymph. Lymph is carried through the lymphatic vessels to the lymph nodes. The body has about 500-600 lymph nodes throughout our bodies. (According to Dr. Oz we have 600 lymph nodes). The lymphatic system enhances the immune system. It is the first defense against infections, unwanted virus, and bacteria that enters the body.

What does the Lymphatic System do?

The lymphatic system has been called the “drainage system” of our bodies. It is the first defense against unwanted pathogens. It also maintains blood pressure, blood volume, and helps the body maintain fluid balance. The lymphatic system helps the body with preventing protein buildup. Protein buildup in the body can be life threatening if left in the tissues. It also distributes dietary fats and aids in the healing process of an injury. There is also a new and exciting discovery of the lymphatic system and that is; the ability to regenerate itself. New lymph nodes can grow along deep lymphatic vessels when normal lymph nodes are scarred and damaged, this helping the body to recover better after chronic infections.

How does the Lymphatic System work?

The lymphatic system collects fluid from between our tissues, moves the fluid that is known as lymph into a lymphatic vessels. The lymph is then transported to a lymph node where it is removed of harmful substance and then put back into the blood stream. The spleen, lymph nodes, thymus, tonsils, and Peyer’s patch are all part of the lymphatic system. Lymph vessels run parallel to the blood veins in our bodies. Each organ in the digestive system has its own lymph nodes which empty into lymph vessels leading to the thoracic duct. The lymphatic system has two ducts the thoracic duct and the right lymphatic duct. The thoracic duct is the larger of the two ducts. It starts at the 2nd lumbar vertebra (L2) and extends to the root of the neck. Afferent vessels are lymph vessels that carry lymph towards the nodes, while Efferent carries lymph out of the nodes towards the lymphatic ducts.

Lymph nodes are located throughout our bodies some of the more common ones are located in our neck under the mandible, medial to the SCM. The axillary region of the arm, these are important ones especially for woman because breast cancer cells move into the axillary lymph node. Another common area for lymph nodes is the groin area. There are also small groups near the elbows and knees.

The lymphatic system is not pump through our bodies like our blood is; instead it is “pushed by our contraction of muscles or by massage. Lymphatic contractions start and stop depending on whether the pressure inside the lymphangions exceeds or falls below certain levels, when pressure become too great lymph circulation in the area stops and edema develops.

Lymph Drainage Massage

Lymphatic Drainage Massage (LDM) or Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) or Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) is stimulation of the lymph nodes for the overall health and well-being of the person.

LDM is a gentle, light stroke that helps the lymphatic system move more effetely than on its own. It is a technique used to help increase lymph flow which then helps the body rid itself of harmful substance while increasing immune functions. It can be useful for edema, sports injury, people who have a sluggish immune system or those suffering from lack of energy. Lymph drainage massage can help the lymphatic system by manually cleaning the lymph system in a clockwise fashion. Preformed correctly it can increase the lymph flow by as much as 20 times. The lymphatic system cleans almost every cell in the body so when a person is experiencing frequent colds or flu infections, joint pains, fatigue, mood irregularities, or depression it is a good sign that there is lymph blockage going on and would benefit from LDM. Lymphatic massage utilizes a very light pressure combined with soft pumping movements in the direction of the lymph nodes. Immune system function can be significantly increased, improving metabolism and helping the body to eliminate waste and toxins. A strong immune system makes you feel balanced, happy and whole.

Lymph drainage massage can be very effective for edema. If the client does not know the cause of the edema massage is contraindication until seen by a doctor and it has been approved. Lymph drainage massage is also wonderful for our skin. When our lymph is flowing as it should our cells are bathed in fresh fluid enhancing the skin with a look of freshness and alive.

How to massage the lymphatic system

Start with moving lymph towards lymph nodes in neck, axillary, and groin. This opens the lymph nodes for more lymph to come in and be processed. Lymph vessels divide the body into 4 sections. Each section has a limb and the adjacent quadrant of the trunk. Starting with the left side between the waist and the clavicle the lymph drainage is to the left axillary lymph node this includes the left arm and upper left quadrant. The lower left side includes the left leg and lower left quadrants and goes to the left inguinal nodes. The right side from the waist to the clavicle including the right arm and upper right quadrant gets drained into the right axillary lymph node. The lower right side which includes the right leg and lower right quadrants goes to the right inguinal nodes. The sternum gets drained upwards to the cervical nodes.

References:

http://ezinearticles.com/?Lymphatic-Massage—The-Benefits&id=283527

http://www.our-healing-hub.com/lymphatic-drainage.html

http://www.spafinder.com/massage/Lymphatic.htm

the complete guide to lymph drainage massage

 
 


 
 

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