Body Sense

AUTUMN | 2015

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8 Body Sense MOVE IT UP! The lymphatic system is possibly the least understood system of the body and yet it is a cornerstone to staying healthy throughout the year. This system removes waste from every cell of the body, in addition to creating cells that specialize in fighting foreign microorganisms (a.k.a. germs). One of the natural biological changes that occurs in the body during cooler months is an increase in the production of specialized cells that circulate in your body like little police officers looking for law breakers or intruders. The problem is, lymphatic fluid (and any fluid in the body except for blood moving away from the heart) is circulated by mechanical movement, primarily muscle contraction. In cooler temperatures, we tend toward hibernation rather than motivation, so while the body's processes are ready to rock and roll, most people don't support those mechanisms appropriately. So, what can you do to support yourself through bodywork? Well, the simple answer is to move! Find exercises you can do inside or outside; it doesn't matter as long as you are moving. Even taking a walk encourages lymphatic function, as does yoga or jumping on a small trampoline. However, another excellent approach is to find a practitioner who is trained to offer manual lymphatic drainage therapy. There are specific protocols that can be used to move lymph fluid through lymph vessels toward lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are essentially filters, so moving the fluid toward the body's filters helps to stave off colds and flus, while also enhancing your energy and vitality. Imagine not changing your car's fuel, air, or oil filters. Your car would be pretty sluggish and not run optimally, causing you to take it into the mechanic sooner than you'd like. Your body is no different. So, what can you do to support yourself through bodywork? Well, the simple answer is to move! STIR IT UP! If your bodywork sessions tend to be slow-paced and soothing, which is great for cooling the body and slowing down during the flurry of summer activities, cool weather provides an excellent reason to stir things up! While some might have the perspective that we should hibernate with the bears in the autumn and winter seasons. Indeed it is valuable to slow things down to be in rhythm with this darker phase of the year. It is also helpful to try bodywork styles that focus on body movement as a primary source of stress and tension relief in order to be in balance. Deane Juhan, author of Job's Body: A Handbook for Bodywork (Barrytown/Station Hill Press, 2003), explains, "Connective tissue shares with many other gels a phenomenon called thixotropy: it becomes more fluid when it is stirred up and more solid when it sits without being disturbed. Skillful manipulation (manual therapy) simply raises energy levels and creates a greater degree of fluidity in organic systems that are already there, but are behaving sluggishly. The effect can be analogous to that of turning up the temperature and humidity in a greenhouse that has been too dry and cold."

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