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3 simple exercises that stimulate the lymphatic system





The lymphatic (immune) system has a number of vessels that run around the body  (similiar to veins and arteries). 



The lymphatic vessels (in green, pictured), have a number of roles - transporting fluids (like lymph) and other structures, as well as draining excess interstitial fluid from tissue spaces back into blood.


Good circulation through the lymphatic vessels plays a major role in the immune system being able to perform the many functions it has that keep us healthy and well. 


While the blood vessels have a dedicated pump (the heart) to assist in circulation, the lymphatic system does not. 


The lymphatic system relies on breathing (respiratory pump) and movement (skeletal muscle pump) to maintain healthy circulation and excretion of wastes. 



While immunity is far more complicated than can be described here, a well circulating immune system will assist every other function to perform at it’s best.



In order to have a well circulating immune system, we need to move and breathe well.


One of the major skeletal muscle pumps is in the calf.   It sends all of the fluid up from the feet back into the body.  


 This is one of the reasons movement is essential to good immune function.


Here are 3 simple movements that can be done with no equipment, in a small space.  

>> Check out the quick video at the top of this post to see them all


These movements coupled with diaphragmatic breathing (into the belly) stimulate the 2 pumps mentioned above. 


1 - Breathing squats - 20 reps

Inhale as you raise your arms up 

Exhale, lightly draw in your pelvic floor and squat down 


  • watch the  knees are outside the big toes as you squat down
  • Anchor all points of the feet and push up through the heels 


2 - Calf raises - 20 reps

Press the feet into the floor in order to rise up onto the toes


  • Avoid lifting through the top of the head - imagine you're pushing the floor away from you instead
  • Try a light pelvic floor activation each time you rise up, belly breath (inhale) when you land with feet flat on floor


3- Belly Breathing - legs up on wall - 2 minutes

Lie with your back relaxed and chin tucked

Breathe into your belly so it rises when you inhale and sinks down when you exhale

Try breathing into your rib cage also - so it expands laterally when you inhale


  • Roll from your side to get up and down from the wall 
  • Tuck your chin so your neck isn't hyperextended



If you have tight calves, or hips, or have restricted dorsi flexion this can also inhibit the calf pump mechanism - so stretch these out first. 

-  March 2023 update:

 We are currently working on a specific program to enhance lymphatic stimulation without creating pain, injuries or fatigue (a common side effect of exercise when our bodies are under too much load).

If you're interested to find out more when we launch you can jump on the newsletter list and you'll receive a special offer once it's ready.

The Postpartum Method: specialised exercise that combines rehabilitation, strength and conditioning and women's health. 

Kristy Ahale is an exercise scientist with over 20 years in the fields of strength, injury and complex pain prevention.





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