THAR she blows! – The Sneeze

“I can nah hold her keptin, she’s gonna bloooow” my apologies to Star Trek and Moby Dick for the conglomeration intro. Let me introduce you to “the sneeze”. What is it, why we do it, and what has that got to do with massage therapy or more specifically the lymph system..

Sneezing is a reflex. When irritants — such as germs, dust, pollen, animal dander, or pollutants, just to name just a few — infiltrate THE NOSE lining, the brain sends out a signal to get rid of it. That triggers a deep breath, which gets held in the lungs. As a result, the chest muscles tighten and pressure builds. The tongue pushes against the roof of the mouth, forcing breath to come out fast THROUGH THE NOSE. Think of a sneeze like flushing the toilet.

We cough to expe

THAR she blows

THAR she blows

l from the lungs, but sneeze to expel from the sinuses out the nose. A Sneeze needs to be expelled through the nose and not through the mouth. All of us at one time or another has had such violent sneezing fits that we started expelling though the mouth instead of primarily through the nose. Then it just kept getting more difficult to sneeze through the nose and easier to expel from the mouth. Did you notice that it took more and more repeated sneezes to expel what was irritating your nose? That’s because generally a sneeze through the mouth takes the function/capability of “blowing out the nose”, away. Don;t even get me started on people that pinch the nose with their fingers or scrunch the facial muscles to prevent the nasal sneeze. Doing this contributes to blockages and retaining the very yuck the body was trying to rid itself of in the first place.

What does sneezing have to do with massage, and/or lymph drainage? Well, under normal conditions the fluid from the normal operating sinuses drain through lymph pathways. It is only when they become overloaded that it drains down the back of your throat or the body invokes a sneeze reflex. But a sneeze reflex  reflex only flushes the nasal and sinus cavities. There are no studies that show that a sneeze reflex evacuates the lymph openings. Physics would suggest that such a violent change in air pressure would create a vacuum. But that would

Lateral view of male head and neck showing lymph nodes

Lateral view of male head and neck showing lymph nodes

still only effect the endings and not the plugged pathways. Subsequently manual lymph drainage would be helpful in opening/encouraging the lymph pathways to drain. The gentle repetitive movements assist in the normal removal of “yuck” and help to create a normal environment for the immune function

Those trained in these techniques are quite capable of working on the normal system that is a little out of wack. Though if you are experiencing a sinus infection, or worse, repeated infections. Then ask your Dr about lymph drainage to manually encourage the blocked pathways. It can help the efficacy of the antibiotics and clear away excessive “yuck” to speed healing. It requires more advanced training to work with the compromised system, and experience matters!

All this because i didn’t sneeze out of my nose you ask? Not only, but it certainly contributes. So stay hydrated, and if you have to sneeze, blow it out your nose!

Categories: Massage Therapy and Bodywork.

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