The lymphatic system is made up of the lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, tonsils and adenoids. This system has several functions, including removing excess fluids from body tissues, absorbing and transporting fats and removing damaged cells from the body. Unlike the circulatory system which has the heart to move blood through it, the lymphatic system has no pump and relies on the contraction of the surrounding muscles to keep the lymph flowing. In sedentary people the lymph does not move as quickly through the vessels leading to a buildup of waste products in the tissues.
The lymphatic system begins by collecting excess fluid and waste products in the tissues. These waste products include damaged cells, cancer cells and foreign particles. The lymph then passes through at least one of the lymph nodes, which act as a filter to remove these invaders. The lymph nodes also contain white blood cells which fight infection, which is why they may become sore and inflamed when exposed to a harmful substance. By removing these harmful particles the lymph system helps prevent the spread of infection and cancer. Finally, the filtered lymph is deposited back into the bloodstream in veins in the upper chest.
To help your lymphatic system function optimally you can do movements such as arm circles, head nods and ankle pumps. As you can see from the following diagram there are 2 main lymphatic trunks that pass through the torso along the lower back.
One way to target these vessels and help lymph move through the body is by doing windmill taps. This exercise only takes a minute and is particularly helpful after long sedentary periods, such as first thing in the morning or after a long day at the office. Doing this exercise is an easy way to really help your body function optimally with very little effort. Start adding the windmill tap to your daily routine today!