Mind & Body

How To Improve Your Lymph Health

You may be aware of the tell-tale signs of a sluggish lymph – from a puffy face to swollen limbs and cellulite – but there are also a host of underlying health issues to consider, including digestive and immune issues we don’t see. DANIELLE FOX and NEWBY HANDS have the lowdown on why we need to look after our lymph…

Jennifer Aniston is a big fan of lymphatic drainage

What exactly is the lymph?

While not new, lymphatic drainage has recently gained in popularity as the go-to body-detoxifying treatment of choice this summer, with Jennifer Aniston, Sofia Richie and Hailey Bieber all ardent fans. “One of the most important functions in our body, the lymph, or lymphatic system, is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins and waste,” explains body-work and facial expert Beata Durtan. “If lymph is not regularly drained through movement and massage, it can become sluggish, causing everything from water retention, cellulite, poor blood circulation and acne to more serious underlying health problems, such as a weakened immune system and inflammatory issues.”

Why we need to prioritize our lymph

Unlike blood, lymph fluid doesn’t move on its own. There is no pump propelling it through the body, so the only way to get it flowing is with movement. And, as the lymph cannot detoxify itself, it relies on us to drain and circulate lymph fluid through the body, which is where exercise, massage, body brushing and drinking enough water comes in. “A good lymphatic system is about activity, as the lymph only moves when you move,” explains Kate Shapland, founder of the lymph-boosting brand Legology. “If you sit down all day, lymph stops moving, and as the lymphatic system removes metabolic waste, it can have an impact on your general health, digestion, immune system and even cellulite.”

The exercise to do

“Trampolining or rebounding is more effective than other workouts for lymphatic drainage because the up-and-down rhythmic gravitational force caused by jumping on a trampoline increases lymph flow,” explains Colette Dong, co-founder of The Ness NYC. “The trampoline also absorbs the impact of your movement, making it easier on your joints than most other forms of cardio. It is high intensity but extremely low impact, which is a killer combination.”

The treatment to try

The LPG Endermologie treatment was initially developed as a physio device to help rehabilitate a sports injury for its French founder, but it was the anecdotal reports from therapists and clients alike that first flagged its body-smoothing effects. More than 20 years on and weekly sessions are a key part of many chic French women’s pre-summer prep. Using a vacuum roller head that’s worked over the body to suction up the flesh, it treats the skin, lymph and connective tissues, giving the sort of deep and consistent ‘massage’ that even expert hands can’t deliver – the stretchy body stocking provided makes the whole top-to-toe experience more relaxing and less invasive.

Stimulating the lymph, this treatment is excellent for targeting water retention, while also reducing the levels of fat stored in the cells. Ten sessions are recommended, but you can confidently expect to see and feel a difference (looser clothing, smoother flesh) within just three 60-minute sessions. And it gets better: new research shows that after a course of Endermologie treatments, those tested showed an impressive 44.6% decrease in cortisol levels – meaning less inflammation and better all-round health.

The easy at-home regimen to follow

Apart from the things we know – drinking plenty of water and daily body-brushing (30 seconds of quick upward flicks is enough; the lymph responds to a light touch rather than a scrub) – there are a number of less-obvious tricks that work well, too. Having suffered from lymphatic health issues for 20 years, Shapland has honed an at-home routine that works.

TAKE A SWEDISH SHOWER: “Finish every bath or shower by alternating five-second jets of cold and warm water. Use the shower head to work up from feet to thighs to get circulation and lymph moving.”

PUT YOUR FEET UP: “Every evening, lay with your legs up against the wall for 20 minutes. It helps circulation and even digestion.”

MASSAGE YOUR LYMPH NODES: “They’re found behind the knees, inside the thighs and under the arms. I do this while watching TV, as it’s a great way to keep your lymphatics healthy.”

KEEP A TENNIS BALL IN YOUR DESK DRAWER: “If you’re desk-bound, rolling the ball under each foot during the day gives enough movement to get your lymph moving. I also do this in-flight.”

USE OILS TO DE-PUFF: “Juniper, Siberian fir and eucalyptus oils all work on water retention – I use a blend of them in my Legology Cellu-Lite oil.”

TAKE SUPPLEMENTS: “Magnesium, potassium and chromium are key to promote good circulation and strong capillaries – ginko biloba is also good to take.”

The de-puffing facial-massage technique to try

“Puffy, blemish-prone skin is a tell-tale sign of a lazy lymph,” explains Durtan. And when you improve lymph flow, you improve the skin. A big advocate of pressotherapy, Durtan uses light pressure and a pumping motion on the main lymph points – behind the ears, clavicle bones, armpits and neck – to guide fluid to the lymph, which kick-starts the circulation and draws any toxins to the kidneys. One famous client flies in regularly for sessions to drain and coax out her contours before an event. Pressing at night is particularly good to move any excess water retention and stagnant blood from the day.


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