It’s no secret that exercise is a phenomenal way to support lymphatic movement. An increase in heart rate causes the arteries to stimulate the lymphatic vessels running alongside them, while the pumping of skeletal muscles massages the lymphatic vessels, resulting in the movement of lymph. Increased respiration causes a pressure differential in the abdomen creating a suction effect on the large lymphatic trunks and creating a systemic movement of lymph through the lymphatic system.
The real lymphatic magic happens when these external forces are coupled with compression. Compression increases the hydrostatic pressure inside the tissue which maximizes the benefit of the external pumps caused by exercising. This explains why it is so important for those with compromised lymphatic systems to wear compression during their regular exercise routine, and why it is so therapeutic to exercise when bandaged. The one exception to the rule of wearing garments is when you are exercising in the water.
Any time you are submerged in water, whether it’s the swimming pool, lake, or ocean, you are essentially wearing full body custom compression! The force of the water on your body causes a significant increase in hydrostatic pressure creating an amazing movement of lymph. Every time you move and pump your muscles, the flow of the water and difference in pressure acts like a lymphatic massage, making swimming (or aqua-fit, deep water running etc.) the absolute ideal form of exercise for people with compromised lymphatic systems.
While it is not necessary to wear your compression garments in the pool, it is extremely important to put them on as soon as you get out to maintain all the benefits of your swim.