The Best Breast Health Practices + Products (You'll Love #4)
My name is Jacquelyn, I am a Medical Massage & Bodywork Specialist and have been practicing in Southern California for over 10 years - and I’m more in love with what I do, than ever before. The human body amazes me, and I love when I get to work with clients and educate others on what they can do for themselves and their bodies on their own. I believe educating yourself about your body and how it works is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself.
So today, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let's talk breast health.
Let’s Talk Breast Health
As women, our breasts are incredible. For those who have had children and able to breastfeed, breasts are the life source for our babies. Breasts are sensual organs that give pleasure to both partners. Breasts are unique to each woman, and in my opinion to be celebrated and supported with attitude and lifestyle.
Many of us go through puberty feeling like breasts are foreign, to be hidden, suppressed and “held in place”. Most of us start wearing bras from a very young age for 10-14 hours a day…for the rest of our lives! It’s an unmistakable feeling when a woman takes off her bra that she has an instant sense of relief - am I right? Well, there’s a reason for that.
When our breasts are bound in a bra (underwire is the most common and constrictive), the blood flow and lymphatic flow is compromised, slowed and becomes congested. This makes for heavier breast tissue, more tenderness as the breast tissue is “full” of congested lymph.
We’re all familiar with the nipple, areola, mammary glands and fatty tissue that make up breasts, but we don’t hear much about lymph fluid or lymph nodes (until someone is diagnosed with cancer - then we hear about lymph nodes being removed with mastectomies or cancer being in the lymph nodes).
MY goal, is to educate people on lymphatic health BEFORE major health issues arise (preventative vs. corrective).
What Is The Lymphatic System?
The Lymphatic System is a subtle and powerful cleansing and detox system in the body - it’s basically our immune system. Lymph fluid, vessels and nodes in the body are filled with toxic cellular waste along with immunity cells that filter and destroy bacteria, viruses and rogue cells out of our body, maintaining a clean and clear whole body system.
- Lymph nodes are small organs that help fight infection and are found throughout the body. They produce and filter clear fluid called lymph, which contains white blood cells known as lymphocytes (immune cells involved in defending against infections and such diseases as cancer).
- Lymph vessels filter and carry lymph fluid from the breast (and everywhere else in the body) to the lymph nodes. Clusters of lymph nodes near the breast are located in the armpit, above the collarbone, in the neck, and in the chest.
Lymph affects everything, it’s everywhere in the body. Think of your body like an aquarium - it’s mostly water, right? The lymphatic nodes are like aquarium filters, and lymph is the water. If the filters get clogged, the water becomes stagnant and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, parasites, and rogue cells to thrive.
Did you know that we have approximately 5 liters of blood in our bodies and 12-15 liters of lymph? That’s a lot! While the heart is the pump for blood, there is no pump for the lymph system. The only way to move lymph is by human movement and breathing. One of the reasons being active is so important to our health and immune system.
Best Breast Health Practices + Tips
- Things to consider: basic health habits of high quality food, good water, optimal breathing, getting enough sleep, and the importance of natural movement for your body.
- Movement & breathing are the primary ways lymph moves in the body. Move your chest and arms, walk around with out a bra, dance, rebound, do a little “shimmy".
- Take deep breaths and allow your rib cage to expand and contract as well as breathing using your diaphragm (deep belly breathing).
- Take your bra off - aka only wear a bra when necessary. It’s unmistakable when women take off their bras they feel so much healthier because this pressure that holds and shapes the breast also compresses and constricts the lymphatics. I’m not exactly a “Free the Nipple” advocate, as there are many personal, psychological and cultural influences and expectations around the female body, however, being mindful of when to wear a bra and using alternative bra options when possible is one of the best things you can do for your “ladies”.
- Underwire bras are the worst, tight fitting sport bras that cut into the armpit are also not ideal. Find bras with no underwire - bralettes are great, camisoles are amazing. Look for looser fabric and sizing that doesn’t cut into the skin (anything that leaves a mark in the skin is impacting lymphatic flow).
- Use a Gua Sha stone or Ridged Roller - my favorite tools! I found them originally for my face and they worked wonders for my skin. Then I started using them on my breasts and they are wonderful. It’s simple:
- First, roll or sweep stone at the front of the neck (above collarbones).
- Then move to the armpit (up and down motions) to stimulate the lymph node clusters.
- Lastly around the breasts - starting at the nipple and work your way out to the armpits.
- Use light pressure and move slowly - lymph is subtle slow moving fluid. This technique should feel lovely, gentle and soothing. While you can do it standing, I find laying down is the best. You may notice your breast tissue feels lighter, softer, more supple - this is all good! Keep it up. Personally, I do it 2-3x a week.
- Use natural deodorant - deodorant is a big deal. If you’re not already using Primally Pure deodorant, I highly recommend making the switch now. PP deodorant allows for your body to sweat (detox) naturally, and doesn’t block sweat glands or negatively effect lymph nodes with nasty ingredients. Take care of your precious pits - they detox and filter the breast tissue.
*None of this information is to replace medical advice, or regular medical check-ups and scans as you need them. Please consult with your physician if you have questions or concerns.
For more lymphatic support and breast health tips, follow Jacquelyn on Instagram!