Scar Education

When you see me for scar education I will teach you how to take care of your scar. A neglected scar can harden, pulling on the fascia in the area, which can negatively impact your ability to move freely, and in some cases, even breathe well. We will discuss massage, stretches, exercises, nutrition, supplementation, and any other topic that may present while we are together.

Scars put her in a wheelchair. A story of how I started in this specialty.

The Lymphatic System - Why it is critical to healing well and creating a good scar.

Adhesions & Fascia - When sticking together isn’t a good thing.

Probiotics - the bugs in your guts and what they do

Avoiding infection - essential for a tidy, flexible scar

My book - Love Your Scar - an Amazon bestseller!

Book reviews - all 5 stars (thank you!)

Love Your Lymph - 12 video demonstrations of the exercises in my book to encourage lymphatic flow

Friend-assisted Lymph exercises - when you just wake up from surgery and can’t move yourself, ask a friend to help.

Scars put her in a wheelchair.

I worked at London Bridge Hospital for twelve years as the Manager and Lead Practitioner for the complementary therapies team in the Oncology department. One patient, a lovely woman named Faye, changed the course of my career. My first “scar release session” happened quite by accident. Faye was in a wheelchair, unable to walk because she couldn’t draw breath. She had recently undergone numerous tests, fearful that the breast cancer had spread to her lungs. Yet all the tests were clear and her doctors were puzzled. She came to me to pass the time while waiting for her appointment.

As I helped her onto the massage table I couldn’t help but notice how hard she was panting, and that I had to keep her in a raised position. Curious, I asked her to take a deep breath and push out her belly. She couldn’t. I asked if I could examine her mastectomy scars to see if they were creating a problem.

As suspected, the scar tissue had tightened and restricted the entire area, clamping down her entire rib cage, preventing her from being able to inflate her lungs. I asked her permission to touch her scars and to release the painful tissue. She agreed and something amazing happened. I worked on her scars for an hour in total, over two appointments that week. When I saw her the next week, Faye strolled into the hospital, grinning from ear to ear, no wheelchair in sight.

Her doctor was quite rightly astounded and regularly referred patients both before and after surgery. I saw people with easy, straight-forward scars as well as very difficult scar patterns due to poor healing or large areas affected by surgery. In my other clinics, I saw scarring from accidents, large burn areas, gunshot wounds as well as multiple scarring from repeated C-sections. All of them responded well to my treatment.

The treatment

The first consultation is an hour and follow up appointments are half an hour. Please wear a t-shirt or tank top and shorts or leggings so that I can see how and where your scar is affecting the rest of your body. I will take you through range of motion exercises, evaluate your scar, teach you how to free restrictions and adhesions, teach you stretches for the fascia, as well as how to support yourself using homeopathy and nutrition.

In this section

I’ll cover the critical importance of the lymphatic system, adhesions and fascia, (and why these both matter), how probiotics help you heal and how to avoid infection, which is also essential for a good scar. The links to my book are provided, with the reviews, and then I’ll personally video demonstrate all the Love Your Lymph moves from the book, as well as show how your friends can help you when you first get out of surgery.

First up, let’s look at the Lymphatic System.

lymph vessel 4.jpg

Immune-boosting, nutrient-delivering, waste-removing, blood-cleansing lymph

Let’s give it some love…

How Does the Lymphatic System Work?

The cells of the body are bathed and surrounded by interstitial fluid, which is a water solvent containing amino acids, hormones, neurotransmitters, fatty acids, sugars, salts, and waste products from the cells. This fluid, called lymph, provides the platform for delivering materials to the cells and removing metabolic waste. This fluid also contains white blood cells to help combat infection.

One of the easiest ways to visualize the working of the lymph is to compare it to your local trash-collection service. It generally runs smoothly: the trucks come regularly and gather up the bags, tins, boxes, and other bits and take them away to be sorted and disposed of at a central processing plant. If the roads are well maintained and nothing gets in the way, it all happens swiftly and efficiently.

Imagine that the street is in disrepair and the trucks cannot move as quickly. Getting the rubbish off the street takes longer, and it begins to decompose in the sun. Likewise, when we are sedentary, the lymph does not get the activation it needs for good circulation, and waste builds up. Also, being dehydrated is akin to big potholes in the road, as the trucks (lymph) cannot move freely.

Now suppose some of the trucks are permanently taken off the garbage route. This is what happens when lymph nodes are removed during surgery, as is often the case with breast cancer surgery. How many lymph nodes are removed depends on the surgery and will determine how much extra support you need to give your lymph system to ensure that all your body’s waste products are still being collected.

With fewer lymph nodes, you now require a different strategy to remove the rubbish with fewer trucks. It is critical that you keep the roads clear and in good repair to facilitate the efficiency of the trucks you still have. Stimulating the areas of high lymph node concentration will help the body stay on top of waste removal. One point of interest: lymph fluid travels in one direction only, with backflow being prevented by single-direction flap valves in the lymph vessels. This stops the waste from going the wrong way into the blood before it has been cleaned.

Unlike the circulatory system, in which the heart pumps the blood, the lymphatic system has no such pump and relies instead on muscular contraction (i.e. movement and exercise) to move the fluid around the body. The vast network of lymph vessels flows against gravity as well, providing just that extra little challenge. Fortunately there are many ways to stimulate the lymphatic system, and I’ll explain these methods later.

Why is it so important?

  1. Healthy tissue drainage: Every day about 21 liters (equal to 88 cups, 5.5 gallons, or 22 quarts) of plasma fluid carrying dissolved substances escape from the arterial end of the blood capillaries and into the tissues. Most of this fluid returns directly to the bloodstream, but 3 to 4 liters of fluid are drained away by the lymphatic vessels. The body’s waste materials are removed by the lymph to prevent them from recirculating into the blood.

  2. Nutrient absorption in the small intestine: In the small intestine there are finger-like projections called villi, which increase the total intestinal surface area. Within each little villus there is a network of capillaries and lymphatic vessels. Amino acids and carbohydrates are absorbed into the capillaries, whereas fat and fat-soluble materials are absorbed into the lymphatic vessels. Fats are critical to optimal health throughout the body.

  3. Maintenance of the immune system: The lymphatic organs are responsible for the production and maturation of lymphocytes, the white blood cells primarily responsible for immunity. Lymphocytes fight infection and destroy abnormal or damaged cells. Bone marrow is considered lymphatic tissue because lymphocytes are made in bone marrow.

  4. Defense again antigens: Lymph fluid plays a vital role in protecting the body from foreign materials known collectively as antigens. The immune system dispatches cells called phagocytes via the lymph system. These cells act like a Pac-Man, engulfing and trapping the antigens and releasing them when they come into contact with the white blood cells designed to destroy them.

Components of the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is made up of both deep and superficial vessels. The deep vessels generally follow the deep veins of the circulatory system, while the superficial vessels are in the superficial fascia. Lymph passes through vessels of increasing size and several lymph nodes (small, round, filter-like organs) before returning to the blood. Think of the lymph nodes as filtration plants where unwanted bacteria, viruses, and other wastes are attacked and destroyed by the immune cells stationed there. The cleansed fluid then returns into circulation.

LYMPH.jpg

The fluid that runs through the system, lymph, travels through tubes called lymph vessels. You may be surprised to learn that the volume of lymphatic fluid in the body is about double that of blood. There are also roughly twice as many lymph vessels as there are blood vessels, so it is a significant body system.

There are three main areas of lymph node concentration where waste materials are removed from the lymph before the fluid returns into circulation. In the neck we have the cervical lymph nodes, (not indicated in the figure above), in the armpits are the axillary lymph nodes and in the groin are the inguinal lymph nodes.

Focused exercise in these three main areas helps cleanse the lymph and keep immunity strong. Other organs involved in the lymphatic system include the thymus gland, the spleen, and diffuse lymphoid tissue such as the tonsils and adenoids. Finally we have lymphatic tissue, which is made in the bone marrow. As you can see, this system is very far reaching.

Immunity and the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is an intricate part of immunity. The spleen is the largest lymph organ and is highly active in the body’s defense. The spleen is located above the stomach under the rib cage. Abnormal and old red blood cells are destroyed in the spleen, and the breakdown products are then sent to the liver. Along with the lymph nodes, the spleen creates lymphocytes, which are the body’s defenders. Unlike the lymph nodes, the spleen is not entered by any lymphatic vessels, which protects it from diseases that the lymph fluid is carrying to the nodes for destruction.

The T-lymphocytes (the good guys who gobble up baddies) mature in the thymus. This gland is most active in childhood, and by puberty it starts to atrophy thanks to sex hormones. We stockpile T-lymphocytes as children, and the thymus degenerates to the point of being a blip of fat, which potentially contributes to susceptibility to infection and cancer when the person ages.

The tonsils and adenoids are considered the first line of defense for the respiratory and digestive systems. Waldeyer’s tonsillar ring is an anatomical term collectively describing the arrangement of lymphoid tissue in the pharynx: the space that reaches from the back of the nasal cavity close to the bottom of the throat where food and air go into different tubes—either the esophagus or the trachea.

From the top to the bottom, the ring of lymph tissue has two adenoids (or pharyngeal tonsils) located at the back of the nasal cavity (nasopharynx) where the nose meets the throat, above the oral cavity. Next are two tubal tonsils near where the Eustachian tubes (from the ears) open into the nasopharynx, followed by what most of us call the tonsils, officially known as the palatine tonsils. These are located at the back of the mouth. Finally, there is more lymph tissue in the tongue and throat to complete Waldeyer’s ring.

These lymph tissues defend against bacteria that enter the nose and mouth. They have specialized cells that capture antigens (things we don’t want in our bodies). As they hold them, an immune response is activated, and the B-cells (made in the bone marrow) and T-cells (made in the thymus) come to destroy the antigens. As each antigen is demolished, the B-cells make a memory cell specific to it. If this particular antigen shows up again, the immune system, via the memory B-cell, can get on top of it much faster. This is why it is common to get sick when you travel to foreign countries, as you have no previous exposure to the different antigens, and your body has no memory of how to fight quickly.

Lymph Fluid Drainage

Because the body contains twice as much lymph as blood, it is critical to stay well hydrated in order to keep the immune system working efficiently, which will help you create a good, healthy scar. Your body will let you know if it is dehydrated through the following symptoms:

  • bloating and water retention (counterintuitive but true)

  • puffy fingers (you may notice rings become too tight)

  • itchy skin, dry skin, flaky scalp

  • swollen ankles or feet

  • feeling stiff and sore when you wake

  • cold hands and feet

  • tiredness, fatigue, brain fog

  • unexplained irritability

  • headaches

  • soreness and/or swelling of the breasts before menses

The lymph does not drain symmetrically in the body.

I always found this a fascinating and rather puzzling fact. There are two principle lymph vessels, the thoracic and right lymph ducts, which pour into the heart via the brachiocephalic veins. The lymph returns to these ducts in a peculiar way. The head, neck, and right arm drain into the right lymph duct, whereas the left arm, entire trunk of the body, and both legs drain into the thoracic lymph duct.

This is important to know because it may affect how you encourage lymph flow in the body through exercise. Remember we have three main areas of lymph node concentration: the deep and superficial lymphatic vessels flow through the cervical nodes in the jaw and neck, the axillary nodes in the armpits, and the inguinal nodes in the groin. So suppose you have swollen ankles. You will want to activate the groin and the left axillary nodes more often in order to drain the lymph from the legs. If you have headaches, you will want to pay particular attention to exercising the right arm to drain the lymph fluid from your head and neck.

Bear in mind that if any of your lymph organs have been previously removed (for example a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy) you need to be more vigilant in taking care of yourself because you have lost some of your immune system’s team members. Besides staying hydrated, there are other ways to help you stay or become healthy both during surgical recovery and well after. These include specific stretches to stimulate the lymph, skin brushing, deep breathing, bouncing on a trampoline, walking and yoga.


Adhesions & Fascia

Fascia up close... very close.

Fascia up close... very close.

 
 

Fascia (pronounced FASH-ya) is an all-encompassing network of strong connective tissue that wraps around almost every part of the body. Only the tubes of the respiratory, lymphatic, and digestive systems are free of this intricate web of tissue.

Fascia provides protection and support for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through body tissues. If the fascia around a nerve becomes adhered to something it should not, the nerve will be irritated and can cause tingling, burning, numbness, or weakness in the area.

Tendons and ligaments are made of fascia; fascia also surrounds and isolates individual muscles, letting them slide easily over each other. Restrictions in the fascia of the muscles and bones can affect posture and the ability to move freely.

Sometimes the body goes a little overboard in its attempt to heal. This is a natural response to any injury, whether it’s caused by infection, trauma, surgery, or radiation. Adhesions, which are fibrous bands of scar tissue, can extend beyond or behind the initial injury, sticking together parts of the body that would normally remain separate, which can lead to alterations in posture, movement, and function.

Imagine your scar is a boat in a harbor, floating around at the whim of choppy waves. You would want to secure your boat with ropes, ideally attached from different directions to give the best chance of keeping it steady. Your body does the same thing with a scar. It forms adhesions and secures them to other parts of the body to give stability to the scar or injury. The problem is when the “ropes” get too tight. Adhesions develop slowly and pull on surrounding body tissues, restricting the ability of the muscles and bones to work properly. They can also irritate delicate nerves and blood vessels.

To fully appreciate the interconnectedness of fascia and how a scar or trauma affects it, put on a tight-fitting shirt and stand in front of a mirror. Grab the fabric at the shoulder and note where the fabric bunches and creates cords on the shirt’s front, back, and sides. Now grab in the middle of the shirt where a Cesarean section scar or appendectomy scar would be. Notice the creases and pulls of the fabric. Finally, hold your shirt on one side of the chest, perhaps where a breast scar would be, and see how the fabric pulls in the back as well.

You can imagine that a scar on the knee could pull the fascia of the thigh, forcing the hip to drop. This in turn could shorten the torso, perhaps rounding the shoulder on that side, which might pull on the neck muscles and result in headaches. You can rub your temples all you like, but your headaches will not stop until you release your knee scar. Crazy, right?

Looser fascia, known as separating fascia, performs a different function. These fascia tissues sheathe all the organs and line the body cavities. Proper structural and functional relationships are maintained so that the organs can function properly. An example is the pericardium, which is a sack of fascia containing the heart. Another example is the fascia holding the pelvic organs in place. If these supportive tissues become weak or damaged, you can have something called a prolapse occur. You can see why we want to keep our different types of fascia healthy.

Besides massage, what can you do? For starters, drink more water.

Being sufficiently hydrated is essential to fascia health because fascia is made mostly of water molecules so that it will be slippery enough to function properly. When stretching, fluid is pushed out of fascia much like squeezing a sponge. When the stretch is released, the area refills with fresh fluid from the surrounding tissue, drawing from the lymph and vascular systems nearby.

Human bodies are roughly 60 percent water, and we need to drink a fair amount every day, about 3 liters (100 ounces) for men and 2.2 liters (75 ounces) for women per day. Water transports nutrients, acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spine, lubricates joints, and is the major component of most body parts. The brain and heart are composed of 73 percent water and the lungs are 83 percent water. Even so-called solid bone is 30 percent water. When you’re dehydrated, your health pretty much goes to hell in a handbasket, and nothing functions properly. This is especially true of your lymphatic system, which is intimately connected to your immune system, and ultimately to your scar.

 

 

Probiotics: The bugs in your guts

probio heart.jpg

You have a lot of control over who gets to live in your body besides you. We have more bacteria and microbes in and on our bodies than we have actual human cells. An average person has 30 trillion human cells and 39 trillion bacteria. Health and homeostasis requires working harmoniously with the bacteria we share space with.

Imagine your body is a city where all your bacteria live. Balance and cooperation exists when there is an abundance of friendly bacteria. They love and take care of their beautiful city (you) and keep out negative elements that would upset their happy place. There are gorgeous, lush gardens and parks (prebiotics) for the bacteria to enjoy. All is harmonious until a natural disaster strikes the city (trauma, shock, antibiotics) and tragically many of the good citizens die. Mean, destructive bacteria start to infiltrate, setting up camps, creating mayhem and illness, and destroying the health of the city. A call for help is raised, and additional good guys flood the city (probiotic foods and supplements) and edge out the destructive bacteria until they are contained and controlled. Harmony returns with friendlies back in charge of the city.

Probiotics means “for life,” and these helpful bacteria come in many different strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. They also help ward off harmful bacteria, create an acidic environment in the digestive tract (a good thing), and inhibit growth of other microorganisms such as yeast. Probiotic bacteria also help us heal: a study on burns found that supplementing the diet with probiotics reduces the time required to complete wound healing [1].

Superbugs, bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, are a major threat to patients in hospital. In March of 2016, Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said far too many patients were getting infected with drug-resistant bacteria in healthcare facilities. Ironically, we go to the hospital to get better, but this is where patients are most likely to become infected. A shocking one in four people in the hospital develops an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, according to the CDC—and staying in the hospital for more than twenty-five days increases the risk [2].

Probiotics are generally recognized as having a positive effect in keeping harmful intestinal microorganisms in check, aiding digestion and nutrient absorption, and contributing to a strong immunity. They promote the return to harmony following a perturbing event (dysbiosis) such as antibiotic therapy, which is fairly standard practice in hospitals. We take care of our body’s “good” bacteria by providing them with a supportive environment. Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that nourish the good bacteria already in the colon. They encourage beneficial changes both in the composition and activity of the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics introduce good bacteria into the gut, and prebiotics support the good bacteria that are already there [3].

Sometimes, life gets really hairy and scary and you get a bad infection. I've been there. You're prescribed antibiotics. It's okay. There is a way to use probiotics therapeutically to help minimize the negative impacts that can come with taking antibiotics. I explain it in the blog post 'Avoiding Infection'. Otherwise, start to add food sources that are rich in probiotics.

Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, sour pickles, and kimchi, are rich in probiotics. I have a chef friend who pickles and makes his own veggies, depending on what he has at hand. You will also find good bacteria in kombucha (a fermented tea drink), miso and tempeh (soy), and kefir and yogurt (dairy). Start with small amounts first and see how your body responds. For people with intolerances or allergies to soy or dairy even the fermented form may be too much. You can make your own drinks and foods using kefir starters, kombucha kits, or probiotic capsules. Try substituting dairy with nut milks (coconut, almond) or seed milks like hemp when making homemade yoghurt and kefir. 

Endnotes

[1] T. Mayes, M. M. Gottschlich, L. E. James, C. Allgeier, J. Weitz, R. J.
Kagan, “Clinical safety and efficacy of probiotic administration following
burn injury,” Journal of Burn Care and Research (official publication
of the American Burn Association) 36, no. 1 (2015), 92–99,
doi: 10.1097/BCR.0000000000000139.

[2] “Superbugs threaten hospital patients,” Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, retrieved on March 3, 2016 from http://www.cdc.
gov/media/releases/2016/p0303-superbugs.html.

[3] D. M. Linares, P. Ross, C. Stanton, “Beneficial Microbes: The pharmacy
in the gut,” Bioengineered Dec. 28, 2015: 1–28.

 

 

Avoiding Infection

Sneezy

Sneezy

 

When you're wounded or sick, your body goes into rally mode to heal you. If you get cut through surgery or injury, as much as possible, you want to avoid an infection as this destroys the healthy tissue around your original injury. Infection can also be systemic, or throughout your whole body, as with the 'flu. The suggestions here for cuts, wounds and surgery will also help for full body yuck. 

The Four Stages of Wound Healing a cut or incision

There are four stages to wound healing, and now you'll know what happens when you cut yourself. The best thing is that before you realize you've sliced off the tip of your finger, your body is already in action. 

1. The first is the hemostasis stage, in which the body stops the initial bleeding. The damaged blood vessels constrict, little pieces of blood cells called platelet plugs form and clog the inside of the blood vessels, and finally the blood coagulates and thickens until the flow of blood has stopped.

2. Next is the inflammatory stage, which lasts for a few days. During this time, there can be redness, heat, and swelling around the wound as blood vessels constrict to control bleeding. Specialized white blood cells clean the wound of bacteria to prevent infection.

3. The proliferative stage lasts about three weeks, but it can take longer depending on the severity of the wound and whether or not there is an infection. In this stage a matrix of new skin cells and blood vessels form. Specialized cells called fibroblasts generate collagen to fill the wound, making a framework for the new tissues to build on and form your scar. Capillaries (tiny blood vessels) supply the new cells with nutrients and oxygen and support collagen production. The increased blood supply gives the scar its initial bright-pink color.

4. The remodeling stage can last up to two years—yes, two years to finalize a scar! Collagen continues to form, becoming more organized to increase the robustness of the resultant scar. During this stage the density of the blood vessels diminishes and the scar gradually loses color. The shape of the wound may change as the collagen restructures, and once this stage is complete, the area will have 70 to 80 percent of the strength of the original tissue. Quite amazing!

Signs of infection

  • general feelings of malaise

  • fever

  • pus

  • swelling

  • red streaks radiating from the wound (see the doctor)

  • heat at the incision site

  • pain (continual or increased)

Any deterioration of your whole self when ill or injured means you need to help out your inner natural healer. The following are suggestions that I use regularly and touch wood, no antibiotics or nasty infections for years. In addition to the remedies below, make sure to activate your Lymphatic System. You can do this in a variety of ways either with Love Your Lymph Moves, bouncing on a trampoline (rebounder) and dry skin brushing. 

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is an antibacterial that can keep infections from occurring. Researchers found that colloidal silver significantly reduces the formation and spread of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria [1]. 

I swear by colloidal silver. It doesn't sting and it doesn't taste bad. I have a large bottle which I keep under the sink and use to refill my two smaller spray bottles.

To help reduce the chance of infection on a cut or wound, lightly spray your clean wound three to five times a day, or as often as your bandages are being changed. If you have a mouth injury or threatening tooth abscess, it is safe to spray inside your mouth, directly on the area. If I am battling a 'flu, I will either generously spray in my mouth or take a couple of teaspoons of the liquid. 

Great for any cuts, grazes, bug bites, scratches, sore spots, raw paws, eczema, acne... you get it. Everything. 

Probiotic Supplements

If you have an infection, you need friendly bacteria even more than when your immune system is not being challenged.

With an infection, a doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics, which kill all bacteria, good and bad. If you're taking friendly, supplemental probiotics, they will be wiped out by the drugs. But you still want to flood your body with the good guys in between the doses of antibiotics. This may seem like a waste of probiotics, but look at it another way. Your general health is already under par if you're fighting an infection. 

Suppose you take your antibiotic at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and the doses destroy all bacteria in your body. But sometimes the antibiotic doesn’t kill all of the dangerous bugs, as they have become antibiotic resistant (see my post on Probiotics for more info). Because your friendly bacteria have also been destroyed, you’re wide open for the opportunistic baddies to get even stronger. But let’s say that two hours after your antibiotic, you flood your system with the good guys by taking a high-potency probiotic supplement. You now have friendly bacteria taking care of your body for the next ten hours, until you take your next antibiotic. You stand a greater chance of healing faster when you have the good guys in your body.

I recommend that two hours after you take the antibiotic as prescribed by your doctor, take a high-potency probiotic, meaning it has multiple pro-bio strains and lots of them. Then I would take another one midday and another before bed. It would look like this: 

  • 7 a.m. - antibiotic

  • 9 a.m. - probiotic

  • 2 p.m. - probiotic

  • 7 p.m. - antibiotic

  • 9 p.m. - probiotic

If I am travelling or needing to be on the go, I use a Jarrow formula that is stable at room temperature. I have it in my purse rather than needing to be refrigerated. I take the Jarrow EPS formula as it contains eight beneficial, clinically documented strains—at 25 billion viable bacteria cells per capsule. It's powerful stuff. Here it is in a larger size for better value. 

Make sure to finish the full course of your antibiotics. When you have completed, continue to take the high potency probiotic three times a day for at least the next month. After that you can start to drop it down to twice a day so long as you feel healthy and your digestion is working well. 

Garlic: The Natural Anti-Bacterial

Garlic has been celebrated as a healing agent for centuries. Current research into garlic’s beneficial impact on immunity found that it stimulates certain cell types in the immune system such as macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, and eosinophils. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and stimulates the beneficial bacteria in the colon, which further assists immunity [2].

Scientists have found that raw garlic juice is effective against many common pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, even against strains that have become resistant to antibiotics. Garlic also prevents the bad bacteria from producing toxins that can damage health [3].

The beneficial properties of garlic come from the thiosulfinates. When crushing or cutting a clove of garlic, an odorless amino acid called alliin is metabolized by the enzyme allinase. This yields allicin and other thiosulfinates, which give garlic its characteristic smell and its superpowers. When the thiosulfinates are removed from the garlic in processing, as found in garlic pills, the antimicrobial activity of garlic is completely obliterated. In other words, to use it medicinally, you have to take garlic fresh and raw.

Cut, chop, or crush the garlic clove and leave it to the side for about twenty minutes before eating. This allows the enzymes to work and produce the allicin and thiosulfinates. To incorporate raw garlic into a meal, make a dressing for salad or steamed vegetables. Otherwise stir it in to a stir-fry or soup after you've turned off the heat.

If I am under the weather, I'll take garlic like a pill. Slice one clove of garlic into small pieces, wait twenty minutes and swallow with water as you would a vitamin. Have it with a meal or snack to avoid upsetting your stomach.

You can sometimes smell garlic coming out of your skin in the beginning. To reduce it, consume plenty of chlorophyll, found in green vegetables, or chew a sprig of parsley after your meal to freshen your breath. Your body adapts quickly and it will soon pass.

Manuka Honey

One remedy you can try is Manuka honey in your bandages. Manuka honey, which comes from the Leptospermum scoparium bush (also called New Zealand Manuka), eliminates some bacteria and prevents certain other bacteria from creating a biofilm and spreading. A study in a 2014 peer-reviewed journal showed that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is destroyed by Manuka honey. Even better, the bacteria did not become resistant to the honey, so the honey stayed effective as long as it was applied to the wound. Manuka honey has two principle antibacterial components, methylglyoxal and hydrogen peroxide. In clinical research, when the methylglyoxal was isolated and used on bacteria it was not effective in eradicating it. There is a special synergism in the Manuka honey that makes it effective [4].

The interest in honey as a healing agent is spreading. Scientists are conducting promising clinical trials for the use of honey in wounds and there are companies developing impregnated bandages as well as topical honey ointments and gels for use after surgery. Honey has been used medicinally for eons—and now that we have antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we may need to revisit this ancient wonder.

Homeopathic Remedies for Infection

If you've never used homeopathic remedies before and aren't sure how they work, see my blog post 'Homeopathy - energy medicine'. 

I emphasize two primary remedies for general infection: Hepar sulphuris calcareum (Hepar sulph) and Pyrogenium (Pyrogen). These remedies are not specific to scars per se but rather how an infection “feels” in your body. The site of the infection may be your scar but you will feel its effects throughout your body first, and you will usually sense indications of a threatening infection well before it shows up in your scar.

Hepar sulph: Typically, a person who needs this remedy will feel chilly and irritable, wants to be wrapped in a warm blanket, and may have a sensation as if they had a splinter in their throat. They hate to get cold or feel a cold draft. They may also be sweaty with a chill.

Pyrogen (Pyrogenium): This remedy can be used when the infection has taken a stronger hold and the person has a fever, red streaks, and feels sore or achy and is restless. The person’s body may smell putrid and offensive. Emotionally, they will be more weepy and self-pitying or showing signs of delirium.

Take both remedies in a 30C potency, two pills of each under the tongue every hour, or put them in your water and drink copiously. I like to take both because I do not want to wait around to see if one or the other is more indicated or will work better. You cannot hurt yourself by taking both, and it may save valuable time getting the infection under control. Take them for as long as you have the symptoms of infection, then stop. Homeopathy is very subtle, and my patients usually said something like “I know I still have the problem but I feel better in myself—lighter, stronger and happier.” Your overall vitality and energy will feel better with the appropriate remedies. Continue taking the remedies until the physical signs of infection are gone.

Endnotes

[1] R. Goggin, C. Jardeleza, P. J. Wormald, S. Vreugde, “Colloidal silver: a novel treatment for Staphylococcus aureus biofilms?” International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology 4, no. 3 (March 2014): 171–5, doi: 10.1002/alr.21259.

[2] R. Arreola, S. Quintero-Fabián, R. I. López-Roa, E. O. Flores-Gutiérrez, J. P. Reyes-Grajeda, L. Carrera-Quintanar, D. Ortuño-Sahagún, “Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds” Journal of Immunology Research, April 19, 2015, doi: 10.1155/2015/401630.

[3] G. P. Sivam, “Protection against Helicobacter pylori and other bacterial infections by garlic,” Journal of Nutrition 131, no. 3s (March 2001): 1106S–8S.

[4] Jing Lu, Lynne Turnbull, Catherine M. Burke, Michael Liu, Dee A. Carter, Ralf C. Schlothauer, Cynthia B. Whitchurch, Elizabeth J. Harry, “Manuka-type honeys can eradicate biofilms produced by Staphylococcus aureus strains with different biofilm-forming abilities,” PeerJ March 25, 2014, PubMed 24711974.

 

My book

Love Your Scar: How to Heal Beautifully Using Nutrition, Massage, Homeopathy, Yoga and Many More Natural Therapies

I published an earlier version of this book in 2010 with a focus on breast cancer, given my work in Oncology at London Bridge Hospital. This edition, published 2017, is for all scars; not just those from cancer. Anyone with any type of surgical scar, wound, injury, burn, or trauma can benefit from the information. 

Amazon link (Kindle $4.99, Paperback $11.11)

Goodreads link (Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, AbeBooks, Book Depository, Alibris, Better World Books and IndieBound).

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All reviews from Amazon are 5 star

Insightful and easy to understand: "I’m typically easily overwhelmed by a lot of informational health books because there is so much information and not enough personality. The way that Holman interweaves personal, relatable stories with all of the information she shares makes it much more captivating and easier to soak up the information and recall it later. I found the chapter on nutrition especially helpful and informative!"     -Sarah K.

*****

Essential reading for finding a path forward after scar trauma: "An absolutely accessible and essential guide to healing scars, any type of scar. Adrianna is an exceptional author you not only guides you through the healing process but makes you want to walk the healing path. What can seem overwhelming and debilitating becomes a journey of joy and empowerment."       -Kathleen Stevenson

*****

Excellent healing resource: "Highly readable. Knowledgeable & compassionate companion for scar recovery. I wish this book had been available 10 years ago when I endured 5 consecutive surgeries that left my upper body immobile. It would have given me needed information, support & reassurance to heal myself physically and emotionally. Instead, my healing journey was trial-by-error, long & lonely.
Today, as a somatic therapist myself, I see this book as a jewel for scar release.
Ms. Holman's knowledge spans solid science with body-mind expertise, homeopathy and easy to follow practical treatments.
All of this makes "Love Your Scar" unusually thorough and a profound healing tool. Thank you, Andie Holman."       -Michele M. Nahas

*****

"Andie’s book, “Love Your Scar” is a must read for anyone who is planning to undergo surgery, has undergone surgery, or anyone who has an existing scar. Throughout the book, Andie uses relatable analogies and real-world examples to explain complicated biological concepts. This is so critical as I tend to stop following a healing plan if I don’t know why or how that plan is helping me. She shares her vast body of professional experience and her own experience with the struggles of scarring after breast surgery which uniquely positions her as someone who not only has the necessary professional qualifications but someone who truly understands.

She explains in a way that any reader will be able to understand why what we put in our bodies effects the healing process. Honestly, after my ACL surgery, I never really thought about what I was eating and how that was hurting or helping my scarring. I always just thought about what was going on my body (creams, etc.). Mind blown; I wish I had thought about it at the time!

Andie explains in a clear way why she recommends certain foods and supplements during the healing process; what products to use and avoid to promote healing; meditation and breathing techniques that will help; exercises; and so much more!

Her chapter on skin care products is so enlightening. Not only is this information good for ensuring that you are only using products that will help your scar heal beautifully, the information is invaluable for individuals like me who have had skin issues in general. For years I have had difficulties finding a soap that didn’t irritate my skin. So I read marketing and kept buying brand-name soaps. Finally my husband suggested I buy home-made natural soap. When reading this book I literally ran to the bathroom to see what ingredients were in some of the soaps that I didn’t use after buying a pack because they were irritating my skin – yep, contained ingredients her book says to stay away from whereas the home-made soaps do not.

In addition, this book is more than just about promoting the scar-healing process. It’s about educating yourself about the love and nourishment your body needs. Cancer runs in my family and reading in her book that the World Health Organization sites a poor diet as the number-two cause of cancers, may just give me the motivation to put the soda down and the vegetables up. I have a better understanding of how certain foods interact with my body and she even provided healthy recipes in her book that look delicious. I mean, Hello Spicy Golden Milk as my new nighttime beverage with turmeric’s healing properties.

I can’t recommend this book enough. This book is going to help so many people!

                                                                                                 -Amazon Customer

*****

An essential guide on the road to healing: "Well studied and well written, Love Your Scar brings a wholistic approach to healing: heart, mind, soul and body. Keeping everything in balance, medical students and the new patient will benefit from Andie Holman's work
and wisdom in this excellent resource. Let it be your guide to complete recovery,
or help others in their journey to restoration."       -E Theodore Aranda

*****

Just what I needed: "Andie's book came to me at the perfect time! She shares her extensive knowledge of the body and it's healing processes, nutrition, homeopathy, essential oils, massage, exercise, and movement, and self-care in a clear, understandable way that is presented with healing compassion. Still in the process of healing from a significant injury, the information from "Love Your Scar" encourages me that I can help my scar to heal well. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is preparing for surgery to support your healing from the very beginning, and to anyone who has a new or older scar. There is plenty of information for everyone."       -Shannon K.

*****

This book can help everyone, not just those healing their scars: "I recommended this book to two friends who have recently undergone surgery and have huge scars. I decided I’d better read it first.
I am extremely impressed with the thorough approach to the treatment of scars, including massage, skin care, diet, exercise and emotional healing. The writing is easy to understand and interesting, including many personal examples from Andie and her patients.
This book is not just for those with scars. I am starting to use her suggestions to take care of my ‘healthy’ body. The section on the lymphatic system, what it does, and how to keep it functioning well was new and eye-opening to me.
The step-by-step explanations of massage, exercise, visualizations and breathing are very understandable and easy to follow. For me, the explanations – in language a non-scientist can understand - of how these body systems work and why the treatments help is invaluable. I can’t wait to try the recipes.

Thank you Andie, for sharing your expertise."        -Linda H

*****

Excellent! A detailed, well-organized and easy to understand practical guide: "Excellent! A detailed, well-organized and easy to understand practical guide to the care of old and new scars. Based upon extensive research and years of practical clinical experience. Learn how scars form, about the critical role of lymph in maintaining good health along with advice on diet, supplements and traditional Homeopathic remedies to maximize your body’s natural healing ability. Featuring wonderful testimonials and examples of success stories. Includes easy to follow step by step instructions on: breathing techniques, visualization, meditation, self-massage and the use of healing oils and aromatherapy. Learn simple stretches and exercises for before and after surgery. Discover strategies for avoiding infections before, during and after surgery. Most helpful are the list of resources for supplies, recommended books for further study and wonderful healing recipes. Highly Informative and useful for those preparing to undergo surgery as well as those with old scars."       -David Wells

*****

Thoughtful and useful book: "In Love Your Scar, Andie Holman masterfully weaves information on massage, diet and simple behavior change into a beautiful quilt of healing. This is a wonderful book for anyone with a scar but the material in the book is relevant for anyone interested in health, understanding their body, and building greater connectivity between our minds and physical experience. The book is easy and enjoyable to read and provides a useful mix of science, personal experience and professional advice. It breaks down complex medical information into clear bit size tidbits which makes the material tangible and useful. Highly recommend this book!"       -Gina

*****

Love Your Scar for Life! "If you have a loved one, friend or acquaintance who has any kind of scar, whether small or life altering; whether a scar is newly acquired, imminent, or is old, this is a wonderful healing book chock full of detailed information to help heal beautifully and naturally. I gifted this book to myself, finding Love Your Scar to be most helpful in every way. Love Your Scar is organized in easy to understand chapters, with documented, exactly 'how to do it' information: Where, when & how – it’s all spelled out in detail, written with personality! It would be a great addition to your own library and to libraries of family and friends. It's worth the read and is a gift of caring."       -Linda J. Marshall

*****

Love Your Scar: "Love Your Scar: How to Heal Beautifully is a wonderfully written book of a successful healing process for scars. Holman’s language and approach effortlessly guides the reader through the science of scarring and her integrated natural treatment techniques that also impact overall wellness. The reader is taken step-by step through the process of healing both new and sold scars, with patient anecdotes that illustrate personal challenges and successes. Holman’s extensive experience and knowledge working with a range of scar types shines through, as does her passion for healing and the benefits of this innovative and effective healing process. The support this book offers is a gift to anyone dealing with imminent, current or old scars!"       -Bonnie

*****

So useful! "Thank you, Andie Holman, for creating such an accessible and useful book. The combination of background info, tactical advice, and a week-by-week guide for post surgery is fantastic. I especially love the chapter on breathing and meditation. I think anyone who is planning to have surgery -- or just live a healthier life -- should read this book."      -goldmana

*****

A book for all time: "Whether you are facing surgery, recovering from surgery, facing illness, recovering from illness, interested in your body and how it works, or wanting to manage your stress levels through nutrition, exercise and meditation - this book is for you!! I can now throw away all my other books dealing with these subjects, because Andie Holman has nailed them all in one extremely well written and powerful book! Her extensive background and personal experiences are impressive and admirable. It is a book to refer back to time and time again. Thank you, Andie, for sharing your remarkable work in this field."       -Jeanne B.

*****

Helping me heal: "Andie covers so many of the issues surrounding scar damage. I love the organization of the book. I love the completeness of the therapy suggestions. I love that I can be in charge of my healing. The read contains useful tools for those with and without scar damage. I myself suffer from significant scar damage. One set of scars by choice. One set of scars from a serious accident. Both sets of scars will benefit from these therapies. Thank you for helping me heal."       -Jacqueline Eschenlohr

*****

A great read: "This book was recommended to me from a friend when I was trying to better understand my lymphatic system. (I had been struggling with so much information presented with all the compassion of a college textbook.) I finally had my a ha moment when reading Love Your Scar. The information is presented from the author in a first hand style that made it understandable to someone who didn't major in science! I found the book also a wealth of info about diet and lifestyle in general even beyond the topic of scar healing. I have since ordered a copy for a friend with an old post-surgery scar. I'm hoping he can benefit as much from the book as I have."       -Amazon customer

 

Love Your Lymph Moves

Explanation of how the Lymphatic system works to help heal a great scar. Move from here to the exercises!

Exercise is important for general health, in particular your lymphatic system. Remember this is how we flush the wastes from our cells and receive nutrients. Here's a recap if you've forgotten how the Lymphatic System works. If you are ill or recovering from an operation, it's even more important to move your body. Even if you feel like the dog’s old dinner gently move every couple of hours, or at the absolute minimum do five minutes of deep breathing sessions every hour. 

Right after surgery or injury, you don't feel like moving or maybe you actually can't move yourself. Please call in a friend or a nurse and ask for help. Use the Friend-Assisted Lymph Flush Exercises videos and explanations for as long as you need to.  

I created Love Your Lymph Moves, a gentle flow of twelve exercises, to stimulate the lymphatic system at the three primary areas of lymph node concentration. If you're able to do these on your own, go for it. They are in an ease of flow so you can do them consecutively. That said:

If anything hurts, stop and try again in a week. If you have a new scar, DON'T overstretch the area. Skip any exercises that are going to tweak your wound, and focus on the other areas instead. 

If you prefer to watch videos, I have demonstrated each move with an explanation. You'll find all those links at the bottom of this page. Otherwise, I've included the illustrations and directions as found in my book Love Your Scar. 

I like to have lots of props for these movements, as they are in essence “yin”-style yoga—plus it is reassuring for the body to have support available. Keep four cushions or pillows handy, or you could buy yoga bolsters and blocks.

This first exercise, Frog's Legs, is simple for most anyone to do and is excellent for moving the lymph as it harnesses muscular contraction, breathing and gravity.


For Frog's Legs, place your feet up the wall. Engage your core or stomach muscles by sinking your belly button to your spine, then tighten the muscles and hold them strong. This helps to protect your lower back, while also giving you a sense of grounding and purpose; the very core of you is solid.

Breath: Exhale when moving the legs, whether up or down. Pause at the top or bottom and inhale.

Level One - Breath and Gravity: Keep your core engaged and breathe into your rib cage, expanding your ribs out to the sides. All you have to do is breathe. 

Level Two - Friend assisted: Have your friend nearby to assist your balance if necessary. He can simply be near you to help when you want to get out of the pose, or he can assist you with bending your legs. Bend one leg at a time. Your arms are wide by your sides with your hands facing palms-down for stability. Your friend can either help move the leg or can apply gentle pressure across your hips to hold you secure. Be sensible if you're injured or recovering. 

Level Three - One leg at a time: Bend one leg at a time. Your arms are wide by your sides with your hands facing palms-down for stability.

Level Four - Both legs bend: Slowly bend both knees outward, keeping the soles of the feet together to make diamond-shaped frog’s legs. Slowly slide up and down the wall from fully bent to fully straight.


So simple. Great for the pelvis, lower abs and back.

Rock the Boat is a very small movement that helps warm up the smaller stabilizing muscles of the pelvis, hips, and lower abdominals.

a. Exhale and slowly curl your pelvis up, squeezing your pelvic floor muscles and letting your belly button drop further toward the floor.

b. Hold for the count of three and slowly inhale into your ribs.

c. Exhale, release the hold, and let your pelvis stretch and rock forward toward the floor.

d. Repeat ten times.


Yum. This is my favorite. Excellent for the spine, organs and hips.

Twister massages the internal organs and can help peristalsis if you are constipated. If you had abdominal or back surgery, skip this one unless you have the okay from your doctor to do gentle twists. If you follow along on this video, it's long intentionally - it's a big breathing exercise. 

a. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Place one or two pillows on either side you, just below your hip where your thighs will land in the twist.

b. Keeping your knees pointing up, extend your arms comfortably to the sides, and steady yourself with your hands palms-down.

c. Take a deep breath and scootch your hips over to the right about four inches. As you exhale, gently allow both bent legs to fall to the left, resting on the pillow (or two or three).

d. Relax your stomach muscles and breathe deep into your belly. Feel the stretch in your rib cage, lower back, arms, and neck. Stay for seven deep breaths, continuing to relax deeper into the pose on each exhalation.

e. To come back to center, exhale fully, pull your belly button toward your spine, and slowly turn your knees back to center.

f. Take a full breath and repeat on the other side.

g. Do two twists to each side.


Primarily for the lymph nodes in the armpits, this stretch opens up your arms and shoulders.

Backstroke helps stretch the chest, arms, and shoulders while activating the lymph nodes in the neck, arms, and chest. Be very careful if you’ve had chest, breast, back, arm, or shoulder surgery. If this is too much, continue with your friend-assisted Arm Sway exercise.

a. Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful ocean scene. Picture yourself having a leisurely paddle through the crystal-clear waves.

b. Bend your knees bent upward and place your feet flat on the floor, arms straight by your sides.

c. Lock your core by sinking your belly button to your spine and holding it there. Breathe up into the ribs.

d. Bring one arm slowly over your head and extend it as far back as you are able. Then reverse the movement, bringing your arm back to your side.

e. Lift the other arm up and backward as if swimming the backstroke.

f. Complete twenty strokes in total.

g. Relax your stomach muscles and breathe into the belly.

h. Roll onto your side and push yourself up onto your hands and knees.


A full spine stretch, front and back.

The Cat-Cow Stretch benefits the whole spine by stretching the front of the body from the chin to the pelvis, and the entire back from the top of the head to the tailbone. Use the breath consciously with this exercise. Be mindful if you have a scar on your torso, and take care not to overstretch.

Cow: Inhale and drop your belly toward the floor, then stretch your chest forward and lift your chin.

Cat: Exhale, drop your head and arch your back up like an angry cat. Pull up on your core as you push every little bit of breath out of your body.

c. Inhale to Cow, exhale to Cat.

d. Repeat five times.


Stretch the arms and shoulders while you relax your body. Restorative yoga pose, excellent for cording.

In yoga, Child's Pose is a posture of surrender and serenity. In this pose your belly and face are soft. This stretch is so good for the arms, back, and shoulders, and it will be of particular benefit for tight cording, painful connective tissue in the arms.

a. Take your knees a little wider than hip distance apart and lean your bum back to rest on your heels, keeping your fingers stretched away from you. If this is uncomfortable, place a pillow or two on top your calves and move your hips back.

b. Rest your forehead on the floor, a pillow, or a yoga block. Make sure your neck is relaxed. Close your eyes and let your face go mushy.

c. Envision your Column of Healing Light nourishing you and removing anything that is not in line with your Highest Good.

d. Take ten long, slow breaths, and exhale fully with a sigh, letting all the tension leave your body.


Move into a comfortable sitting position. If you sit on a small cushion you may find your knees and hips relax more because your pelvis is slightly raised. When sitting cross-legged, you can prop up your knees with a pillow on either side or with your knees straighter (but still a little bent). Keep your back against a wall if sitting up straight is difficult.


A gentle, flowing side bend to help stretch the arms, ribs and torso.

Seaweed helps open the sides of the body from the armpit to the hip. Have a yoga block or pillow to either side of you if reaching the floor is too much of a stretch.

a. On an inhale, reach your right hand out to the side and place it on the floor about a foot away from your right hip.

b. Exhale and lean over to the right, raising your left arm overhead until you feel a stretch from your hip to your fingertips.

c. Inhale for a count of four.

d. Exhale and slowly change sides.

e. Try to keep both butt cheeks on the floor. Gracefully float your arms through the air as if they were sprays of seaweed rolling gently on the waves.

f. Repeat for a total of ten times, five on each side.


As it sounds, the Seated Twist stretches the torso, hips, legs and arms. Full body delicious!

The Seated Twist is similar to the lying Twister, but it has a different action on the hips and groin because of the seated position. This move mobilizes the internal organs gently, improving digestion and elimination while freeing possible rib adhesions. As with Twister, go very gently if you have had abdominal or back surgery.

a. Sit on a little cushion in a cross-legged position, and inhale.

b. On the exhale, twist your whole torso gently to the left placing your left hand on the floor or a block directly behind your spine.

c. Place your right hand on your left knee to help hold the position.

d. Gently turn your head to look over your left shoulder.

e. Take two deep breaths and return to center. Have a relaxing breath.

f. Then take a deep breath, and on the exhale twist to the right, with your right hand behind the spine and left hand on the right knee, looking over the right shoulder.

g. Take two refreshing breaths and return to center.

h. Repeat twice more either side.


Help drain the lymph fluid in the neck, jaw and head, release tension and relax.

Stretching the neck with Neck Rolls activates the cervical lymph nodes, which drain the lymph in the head, and releases tension in the shoulders and any restrictions in the chest and front neck muscles.

a. Roll your shoulders back so you feel your shoulder blades flatten against your back. Engage your core to straighten your spine, and actually sit on your hands, palms-up, so you are grabbing your bum, keeping your shoulders away from your ears. You can also sit against the wall if this helps your posture.

b. Allow your head to drop gently forward and let it rock a little bit side to side. Gently roll your head to the right so that your ear is over your shoulder. Take a couple of breaths.

c. Slowly roll the head forward and to the center, then roll to the left. Keep going side to side, nice and slow.

d. Undoubtedly there will be some spots that feel tighter than others. When you find your neck feels “stuck” at some point, pause there and breathe. The weight of your head gently stretches your neck. Often you will feel a release in the jaw and ear.

e. Try not to let your shoulders creep up. Keep them down and rolled back so the neck receives the full benefit of the stretch.


Stretch your arms, ribs, chest with this awesome exercise.

Scratch your back opens up the whole front of your body and give your arms a good stretch.

a. Holding a belt or dishcloth in your left hand, raise your left arm over your head, bend at the elbow, and reach your hand down (still holding the belt) as though to scratch between your shoulder blades.

b. Twist your right arm up behind the back into a chicken wing, or as if you were scratching the middle of your back. Grab the dangling belt with your right hand.

c. On an exhale, gently pull the top arm down to its maximum stretch, keeping the spine long and straight. Inhale deeply, and on the exhale gently pull the bottom arm up.

e. Repeat the stretch for the upper arm and lower arm three times.

f. Now creep your hands toward each other on the belt to see how close you can get to touching your fingers. When you are as far along on the belt as you can be, take two deep breaths.

g. To release, drop the belt completely, and slide your bottom hand down toward your bum before untwisting it. Shake your arms, do a couple of shoulder shrugs, and repeat on the other side. You will usually find that one side is more flexible than the other. You can stay in the stretch longer for the stiffer side; over time your hands may meet in the middle.


Stretch the torso, ribs, and arms with this diagonal exercise.

Opera Singer helps mobility between the ribs and deep into the armpits, improving lymphatic flow through the torso. Moving the arms in opposite directions from each other gives a diagonal stretch to the chest and ribs.

a. To lock your core when standing, exhale, pull up on your pubic muscles, and feel the connection to your lower abs. Keep them engaged but not clamped down tight.

b. Take a deep inhale, and as you exhale stretch one arm up high, looking at your hand as though you were on stage singing your heart out. Move the other arm down and away in the opposite direction.

c. Inhale deeply, stretching all the muscles between the ribs, as though you were about to hit the high note of the aria.

d. Exhale and change sides, repeating five times on each side.


Primarily for stretching the chest and shoulders. Great after any surgery on the torso.

Door-Frame Stretch strongly opens the chest. After breast or heart surgery there can be a tendency to naturally and instinctively roll in the shoulders to protect the scar, but this can lead to restrictions. Using the doorway as a stabilizer gives you confidence to stretch.

a. Place your hands or forearms on the door frame at chest height. Inhale deeply, puffing out your chest.

b. As you exhale, take a very small step forward, feeling the pull in your chest and shoulder muscles.

c. Inhale deeply and slowly.

d. If this amount of stretch is okay, exhale and take another very small step forward.

e. Keep going until you reach your comfortable limit. Then stay here and just breathe, filling your lungs deeply until you feel the stretch on your entire chest area.


This exercise stretches the arm, chest and torso - it is of particular benefit for cording.

Spider Up The Wall is our final exercise, and it helps flush the lymph nodes in the armpits and chest area.

a. Face the wall and place your hand as high up as you are able.

b. Crawl the spider (your fingers) up the wall and allow all the small muscles in the arm, chest, and shoulder to gently open and release.

c. When you reach your limit, inhale for a count of four and very gently press your hand into the wall, activating your arm muscles.

d. As you exhale, release the tension on your arm and try to creep your fingers up again.

e. Go as high as you comfortably can, doing the little presses in between. This helps your body release tight muscles.

f. Repeat on the other side.


If you have time you can do another set of Frog's Legs to finish. Nice Job!

Friend-Assisted Lymph Flush Exercises

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Muscular contraction moves the lymph, so in the early days of recovery you need to enlist a friend, nurse, or massage therapist to help you with the exercises at least twice a day. The end result of your scar greatly depends on early-stage healing, and we want to move the lymph to help the immune system capture and destroy any bad bacteria in the body—as well as increase circulation and nutrient exchange.

Move and activate the non-injured limbs at first. Let the stronger parts of the body do the bulk of the work in the beginning. A high concentration of lymph nodes are located in the armpits and groin, and these are the areas we aim to stimulate. Avoid pulling or stretching the wound area or incision.

Do not perform the lymph exercises if you have an active infection, fever, bleeding, extreme lymphedema, or swelling. Instead, call your doctor. If you are experiencing cording in your arm after having lymph nodes removed, a professional lymph specialist or massage therapist may be needed for a short time. Cording is the term used for axillary web syndrome (AWS), which may develop after a lymph node dissection, removal of lymph nodes in the underarm, or from scar tissue after surgery to the chest. You can often see the “cords,” which are thick, ropelike structures running under the skin down the arm. They are painful and tight, and they may restrict your ability to raise your arm to the shoulder or above your head. Cording can happen days, weeks, or months after surgery. It is unknown why some people get cording, but stretching and massage are imperative for treating it and keeping the connective tissues supple and flexible.

There are four, possibly five, ways to have a friend help you in the hospital, and you may want to try out some exercises together before you are in recovery at home. If you can do all the movements that follow while you’re in the hospital, terrific! If not, just do what you can, and add in the other movements when possible.

Friend-Assisted Exercises to help a friend stuck in bed

How and why to help your friend recover by moving their lymph for them through targeted exercises.

Upper Body

Learn how to help a friend move the lymphatic fluid in the head and neck.

Head Lymph Flush

1. While you are lying down, a friend sits behind you and cradles the base of your head in both hands. If there is no room at the head of the bed, she sits next to it and places one hand under the base of the skull and the other on the forehead.

2. As you inhale, your friend squeezes lightly at the base of your skull. Hold your breath while she holds the gentle pressure for a count of three. Release your breath as she releases the gentle squeeze.

3. Your friend moves her hand about an inch lower, and you repeat the breath as she squeezes. Every time you inhale, she holds the pressure while you hold your breath, and then as you exhale, she releases the hold. Work slowly down your neck.

4. Repeat three to five times.


This exercise helps move the lymph in the chest area. Excellent for all torso injuries and scars.

Chest Lymph Flush

1. Your friend uses the flat of her fingers to gently press (feather-light) on your chest, starting in the middle on the breastbone, moving out toward the armpit.

2. Inhale as she presses, and exhale as she releases.

3. Your friend moves her fingers along your chest in one-inch increments while you take deep breaths in time with her pressing.

4. Repeat both sides twice.


A friend assisted exercise to move lymphatic fluid through the arm and chest. Excellent in cases of lymphedema and cording.

Arm Sway

1. Your friend holds your upper arm while you bend your elbow and go floppy, letting your forearm rest on his.

2. As you exhale, your friend moves your arm as far back as is comfortable. Pause at the top of the stretch and inhale.

3. Exhale as your friend brings your arm back to neutral or to 90 degrees. Inhale.

4. Exhale as he moves your arm overhead again with the hopes of stretching a tiny bit further with each breath.

5. Inhale slowly while he holds the stretch. Exhale back to start.

6. Repeat ten times and do the other side.


Lower Body

Activate the large concentration of lymph nodes in the groin.

Leg Pumps

1. Lying flat, have your friend sit close to you on the bed next to your hip or upper thigh. Bend the leg closest to her and rest your ankle on her shoulder. She can put her hands around your thigh for support or hold one hand at the ankle and use the forearm of the other arm to push into the back of your lower thigh.

2. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, your friend leans in, bending your leg slowly toward your chest. Hold for a slow count of three while you inhale. She sits up again slowly as you exhale.

3. Take a slow breath in, and as you exhale she leans in again. Repeat five times for each leg.


Legs Up the Wall

If it's possible to do, lie flat on your back with your legs up the wall. Have your friend maneuver you into position. Breath. Chill. Heal. 

Once you are stronger, thank your friend for helping you flush your lymph and promise to take them out for dinner when you're on your feet again. Move on to the Love Your Lymph Moves to continue boosting your healing.