Let's Talk: Dry Brushing
What is it?
Dry brushing is a skin- and lymph-stimulating self massage that not only makes your skin soft and smooth but also feels pretty groovy too.
Why should you do it?
You’ve heard of your lymph nodes; probably felt them swollen in your throat when you’re sick (Swollen glands? That’s them). These nodes are part of the lymphatic system which is responsible for bathing our bodies in fluid and filtering out bacteria and other ickies at the nodes. The lymphatic system reaches every cell of our bodies, but unlike the circulatory system, doesn’t have its own pump. Its primarily moved by muscle contraction and deep breathing – great when we walked 8 hours a day as hunter-gatherers, not so good since we’ve collectively become sitter-stressors. And stagnant lymph can lead to all sorts of problems including acne, frequent colds and flu, fatigue, cramping, tenderness/swelling in joints, arthritis, fibrocystic breasts, and food sensitivities/digestion issues. Clearly no bueno.
That’s where dry brushing comes in! It promotes healthy movement of your lymphatic system and in turn creates all sorts of benefits – improved immune system functioning, increased detoxification, possibly even a reduced risk for cancer.
And the short of it.
- Increase circulation of your lymphatic system (key detoxifier of the body and home to much of the immune system)
- Exfoliate dead skin cells
- Stimulate the production of new healthy skin cells
- Get your whole body buzzing with delightful (calorie and stimulant free) energy
Ideally you’ll get yourself a natural (not synthetic) hard bristle bath brush. I got mine from Whole Foods, roughly $8-$12. I’ve also heard World Market and of course anything can be found on Amazon. If you can’t be bothered, it’s still worthwhile to do the procedure with a washcloth.
Before you shower, ditch your skivvies and all jewelry. Starting at your feet (Sometimes I use a washcloth rather than my brush on the bottoms of my feet or I skip it), begin brushing with light, gentle strokes toward your heart. Long strokes on the long bones, round strokes on your knee and elbow joints. Scrub all of your body parts in this manner, continuing to brush towards the heart. You can use a towel to gently scrub your head and face as well. The whole process should only take between 2-5 minutes.
You Should Know:
THIS SHOULD NOT BE PAINFUL. It might smart a little your first time or two no matter how gentle you are, but in general it’s a light touch and shouldn’t hurt. The lymph is just below the surface of the skin and doesn’t need much to be activated. FYI though, its normal to develop some temporary redness (5-15 min), especially when first starting.
Be gentle around your lady parts, but don’t be afraid to brush where your leg meets your body as well as thoroughly in your armpits and around your breasts (avoiding the nips). These are very key lymph areas for women and brushing here may even reduce your risk for cancer.
It’s wonderful to make dry brushing a daily ritual, but if your routine is already tightly timed or if your schedule is constantly changing like mine, you’ll still see benefits with just once a week.