Trampolines are a popular feature in backyards and gymnastics clubs, enticing people of all ages to bounce, fall and defy gravity, even for just a few minutes of weightlessness. Trampolines were initially invented for training astronauts and building skills in sports such as diving, freestyle skiing and gymnastics. But it wasn’t long before the thrill of the bounce took over and trampoline became a mainstay as a fun, playful activity and even a professional sport.
The Olympics introduced a trampoline event in 2000, in which gymnasts fly more than 26 feet in the air while twisting and turning their bodies in intricately choreographed formations. These trampolinists are high level athletes who have exceptional balance and control. For others, using a trampoline is a source of fun physical activity that can be done in a fitness class or at home.
As the use of trampolines for fitness has increased, their potential health benefits have been explored. It’s clear that the trampoline can provide a good cardio workout. However, some proponents take it a step further and say that trampoline can also detoxify the body and activate the lymphatic system.
It’s no surprise that the concept emerged around the same time the sport was included in the Olympics. Here, we explore these detoxification claims, examine the evidence, and explain the role of the lymphatic system.
Can jumping on a trampoline help detox the body?
Detoxification is a buzzword in the health and fitness world, with the market for detox gadgets, accessories and consumables estimated to be worth over $56 billion. The theory behind the claim that trampoline exercise supports detoxification is that rebounding promotes clearer skin, more spontaneous weight loss, and toxin elimination to remove waste and infection.
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and helps the body fight infection, says Reed McClellan, MD, founder and CEO of Cortina and an adjunct faculty member at Harvard Medical School. In this system, lymph fluid transports waste products, viruses, bacteria, and other bits to help the immune system identify and fight diseases. Alternative health gurus believe that the lymphatic system needs help fulfilling this role, especially from bouncing on a trampoline.
Trampoline-detox proponents argue that unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system lacks a pump. While your heart pushes blood throughout the body, no other organ circulates the substance filtered by your lymphatic system. They argue that the intense change in gravity you experience from jumping on a trampoline dilates your lymphatic vessels, which improves lymph circulation. But does science support this theory? Not so much.
While it’s true that the lymphatic system has no pump, the body can move fluid through it even without a pump, says JB Kirby, DNP, MS, an acute care nurse practitioner with a research background in oncology.
The overlapping cells of the lymphatic vessels form one-way valves, which allow fluid to enter but not out when pressure increases. This fluid moves with the help of breathing and muscle activity without the need of a pump or any other assistance.
A look at the studies behind detoxification claims
A study published by NASA in 1980 forms the backbone of most trampoline detoxification arguments. During this study, a group of NASA researchers tried to determine the ideal type of exercise astronauts should do in a zero-gravity environment to prevent deterioration of their hearts, muscles, and bones.
Kirby says the study focused on analyzing the acceleration of different body parts during specific exercises. “The study measured the speed of an astronaut’s movements while jumping, but they did not measure the speed of lymphatic fluid.”
As a result, this study shows no benefit for the lymphatic system. Meanwhile, another small study was conducted in 2000 on people who had swelling in their lower legs and wore compression stockings, Kirby says. “This study measured how to remove lymph fluid with massage, not a trampoline.”
Finally, a small pilot study on leg swelling from lymphedema (a build-up of fluid in the body’s soft tissues) investigated whether specific exercises, including using a trampoline in water, could relieve it. Kirby says the study was of poor quality, not controlled, and only 11 participants were studied. “So no, trampolines do not detox the lymphatic system, [according to any reputable research],
Trampoline Health Benefits
While the lymphatic theory isn’t supported, there are other ways rebounding can promote health and even support your body’s natural detoxification process, Dr. McClellan says. Trampolining is a full-body exercise that helps maintain overall health and is an important component of exercising the lymphatic system.” Here are some ways you can benefit from trampoline use.
Muscle contractions and sweating move lymph fluid
Dr. McClellan explains that muscle contractions move lymph fluid through the lymphatic system, so any type of exercise that causes muscle contractions can benefit the lymphatic system, including rebounding.
Similarly, in general, sweat from exercise and activity will help with detoxification through the lymphatic system, says Carl Paige, MD, co-founder and CMO of the Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s not a trampoline in itself, but if it’s a vehicle to help you get up and do something, that’s great.”
Rebounding burns calories and increases metabolism
When you bounce on the trampoline, you also burn calories and boost your metabolism by increasing your heart rate, says Kirby. Any activity collects body fluid and ultimately leads to weight loss, which is why some people think that jumping straight up collects lymph fluid.”
Cardio exercise reduces stress and cholesterol levels
Cardio exercise like jumping on a trampoline also comes with a ton of positive mental and physical health effects. These include everything from improved blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels to reducing stress and anxiety and improving sleep quality.
But you don’t have to exercise on the trampoline to get rewards. Any type of cardio and resistance-based exercise from running to powerlifting supports your lymphatic system and overall health. Trampolines are just one way to accomplish those goals, albeit extremely fun.
Importance of a healthy lymphatic system
Keeping your lymphatic system healthy is important for your overall well-being. While your arteries carry oxygen-rich blood into your tissues and your veins carry it out, whatever comes out or is left over from this exchange is picked up by your lymphatic system, Dr. Paige explains. . When the blood delivered to your tissue is depleted, fluids, cells, wastes, byproducts from metabolism, and other things your body no longer needs are left behind.”
According to Dr. Paige, if your lymphatic mobility and function are poor, it affects your immune system, thymus, T cell production and modulation. Your lymph nodes don’t drain, he says, which means you may become swollen or even experience a severe type of lymphedema.
A key aspect of lymphatic health is your glymphatic system, which is a network of channels that helps remove metabolic waste products that accumulate in spaces in your brain, says Dr. Paige. Ideally, this process occurs every day, usually at night, when your condition and the recovery mode of your sleep cycle allow your brain to move lymph, and thus carry away waste.”
Studies show that the state of glymphatic health can affect your inflammation and central nervous system immune response, says Dr. Paige. Research also links glymphatic function to age-related cognitive decline, neurovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and the ability to heal brain injuries and tumors.”
How to keep your lymphatic system healthy
Keeping your lymphatic system in peak condition goes beyond trampoline exercise, says Kirby. Since the lymphatic system is part of the immune system, anything that supports the immune system will also support the lymphatic system.”
She suggests avoiding toxins like pesticides and cleaning products, keeping yourself hydrated, and exercising regularly. Eating nutritious food is also beneficial. If you’re healthy, your lymphatic system doesn’t need anything special other than your continued healthy habits (diet, hydration, exercise, sleep, stress reduction).
If you have a disease or condition that causes lymphedema, there are other safer and more effective ways to increase lymphatic drainage. Dr. Paige recommends swimming, massage, wearing compression wraps and avoiding restrictive clothing.
grassroots level? Jump for fun, not detox
While the long-standing claims that trampolines can help detoxify the body and activate the lymphatic system are interesting, the evidence just isn’t enough to support them. All scientific signs point to the trampoline being just another tool to boost your movement.
That said, adding trampoline exercise to your workout routine is an effective and fun way to stay active. But it should be part of a broader approach to a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
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