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.
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.
>> 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.
Inhale as you raise your arms up
Exhale, lightly draw in your pelvic floor and squat down
Press the feet into the floor in order to rise up onto the toes
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
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.
The Postpartum Method: specialised exercise that combines rehabilitation, strength and conditioning and women's health.