Lymph flows slowly; there is no ‘pump’ to accelerate the flow, and it relies on body movement (like walking) to help with transportation. If the lymph flow is steady and regular the result is a balanced metabolism. When we sleep, or are sedentary for long periods of time, the lymphatic circulation becomes partly stopped. It has also been found fatigue, cold, over-exertion and nervous tension will also slow it down. When the lymph circulation slows down, waste products accumulate and the lymph becomes viscous, with one of the first sign of an impaired lymphatic system being swelling in the hands and feet after periods of standing or sitting. Another indication is puffy eyes in the morning. Because there are lymphatic capillaries not only in the sheaths around the nerves but also between the nerve bundles, the stagnant lymph exerts pressure, producing a feeling of pain on the tissues and nerve extremities. In addition, the stagnation of the fluid will produce a feeling of fatigue and heaviness in the limbs. This reduction of dermal fluid will have a knock-on effect to the epidermis, resulting in poor dermal/epidermal cell function and enzyme activity. When addressing any skin condition that is related to hydration, treatment must begin with the systems that are responsible for the movement and maintenance of body fluids. Most importantly, the lymphatic system and the circulatory system as they work together and are equally important.
Swelling of the ankles, feet and fingers as an early physical indication of this condition. Ankles are the first place to look, and to test these areas for fluid retention use the simple toxemia test of pressing into the swelling which will be apparent just above the ankle bone. Do a very firm press into the swelling for about 30 seconds, then a quick release. Count how long it takes for shape and colour to return to the depressed area. If you have counted over 3 seconds, the probability you have impaired lymphatic system is high.
If a client has an impaired lymphatic system advise them there will be fluid retention around the eyes for longer. This is normal.