Trampolines are a popular feature in backyards and gymnastics clubs, enticing people of all ages to bounce, tumble, and defy gravity even for just a few minutes without weight. Trampolines were first invented for astronauts training and developing skills in sports such as diving, freestyle skiing, and gymnastics. But it wasn’t long before the bouncing craze took hold, and trampolines became a mainstay as a fun, playful activity and even a professional sport.
The Olympics introduced a trampoline event in 2000, with gymnasts soaring more than 26 feet into the air while twisting and turning their bodies in complex choreographed formations. These trampolinists are high-level athletes with 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 grown, their potential health benefits have been explored. It is clear that trampolines can provide a good cardio workout. However, some advocates go further and maintain that trampolines can also detoxify the body and activate the lymphatic system.
Not surprisingly, this concept emerged at the same time that the sport was introduced to the Olympics. Here, we dig into these detoxification claims, review the evidence, and clarify the role of the lymphatic system.
Can Trampoline Jumping Help Detox the Body?
Detoxification is a buzzy concept in the world of health and fitness, with the market for detox gadgets, goods, and consumables estimated at over $56 billion. The theory behind the claim that trampoline exercise supports detoxification is that rebounding boosts detoxification for clearer skin, more effortless weight loss, and flushing wastes and infections.”
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and helps the body fight infections, says Reid Macclellan, MD, the founder and CEO of Cortina and adjunct faculty member at Harvard Medical School. In this system, lymph fluid carries away waste, viruses, bacteria, and other particles to help the immune system recognize and fight diseases. Alternative health gurus believe that the lymphatic system needs help completing this role especially from bouncing on a trampoline.
What trampoline-detox proponents argue is that the lymphatic system lacks a pump, unlike the circulatory system. While your heart pushes blood throughout the body, no organ circulates the substances that are filtered by your lymph system. They argue that the rapid change in gravity you experience from jumping on a trampoline causes your lymphatic vessels to dilate, leading to better lymph circulation. But does science support this theory? Not so much.
While it’s true that the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, the body can still move fluid through it without a pump, says JB Kirby, DNP, MS, an acute care nurse practitioner with a background in oncology research.
The overlapping cells of the lymphatic vessels form one-way valves, which allow fluid to enter but not exit with increased pressure. This fluid moves with help from breathing and muscle activity all without the need for 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 team of NASA researchers sought to determine the ideal type of exercise that astronauts should do in a zero-gravity environment to prevent damage to their hearts, muscles, and bone.
The study focused on studying the acceleration of different body parts during specific exercises, Kirby said. “The study measured an astronaut’s movement speed while jumping, but they didn’t measure the movement of lymphatic fluid.”
Because of this, this study does not show any benefits for the lymphatic system. Meanwhile, another small study was done in 2000 on people who had swelling in their lower legs and wore compression stockings, Kirby said. “This study measured how to remove lymph fluid using massage, not trampolines.”
Finally, a small pilot study on leg swelling from lymphedema (the build-up of fluid in the soft tissues of the body) examined whether specific exercises, including using a water trampoline, can relieve it. This study was of poor quality, uncontrolled, and studied only 11 participants, Kirby said. “So no, trampolines do not detoxify the lymphatic system, [according to any reputable research].”
Trampoline Health Benefits
While the lymph theory is unsupported, there are other ways rebounding can boost health and even support your body’s natural detoxification process, says Dr. Maclellan. Trampolining is a full-body exercise that helps maintain overall health and exercise is an important part of the lymphatic system.” Here are some ways you can benefit from using a trampoline.
Muscle contraction and sweating move lymph fluid
Muscle contractions move lymph fluid through the lymphatic system, explains Dr. Maclellan, so any type of exercise that causes muscle contraction can benefit the lymphatic system, including rebounding.
Also, sweating from exercise and movement, in general, can help detoxing through the lymphatic system, says Carl Paige, MD, co-founder and CMO of the Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s not the trampoline per se, but if that’s a vehicle to help you get up and do something, then great.”
Rebounding burns calories and boosts metabolism
When you bounce on a trampoline, you’re also burning calories and boosting your metabolism by increasing your heart rate, says Kirby. Any movement will mobilize fluids in the body and eventually lead to weight loss, which is why some people think that jumping directly causes lymphatic fluid to mobilize.”
Cardio exercise lowers stress and cholesterol levels
Cardio exercise, such as jumping on a trampoline, comes with many positive effects on mental and physical health, too. This includes everything from better blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels to reduced stress and anxiety and improved sleep quality.
But you don’t have to exercise on a trampoline to reap the rewards. Any type of cardio and resistance-based exercise supports your lymphatic system and overall health from running to powerlifting. Trampolines are just one, albeit very fun, way of accomplishing those goals.
Importance of a Healthy Lymphatic System
Keeping your lymphatic system healthy is important for your overall well-being. While your arteries take oxygenated blood to your tissues and your veins take it out, anything that leaks or is left over from this exchange is picked up by your lymphatic system, explains Dr. Paige. When your tissue runs out of blood delivered to it, fluids, cells, waste, byproducts from metabolism, and other things your body doesn’t need are left behind.”
According to Dr. Paige, if your lymphatic mobility and functioning is poor, it affects your immune system, thymus, T cell production, and modulation. Your lymph nodes aren’t draining, which means you can become swollen or even experience a severe form of lymphedema, he says.
A key aspect of lymphatic health is your glymphatic system, which is a network of channels that help remove metabolic waste products that accumulate in the empty spaces in your brain, says Dr. Paige. Ideally, this process happens every day, usually at night, when your position and the recovery mode of your sleep cycle allow your brain to move lymph, and thus waste, away.”
Studies suggest that the status of glymphatic health can affect your inflammatory and central nervous system immune response, says Dr. Paige. Research also links glymphatic functioning to age-related cognitive decline, neurovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and the ability of brain injuries and tumors to heal.”
How to Keep Your Lymphatic System Healthy
Keeping your lymphatic system in top condition is about more than just trampoline exercise, says Kirby. Because 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 a healthy diet is also beneficial. If you’re healthy, your lymphatic system doesn’t need anything special other than your consistent wellness habits (diet, hydration, exercise, sleep, stress reduction).
If you have an illness or condition that causes lymphedema, there are other safer and more effective ways to increase lymphatic drainage. Dr. recommends Paige swimming, using massage, wearing a compression wrap, and avoiding tight clothing.
Bottom line? Bounce for Fun, Not for detox
While long-standing claims that trampolines can help detoxify the body and activate the lymphatic system are intriguing, there is insufficient evidence to support them. All scientific signs point to trampolines being just another tool for strengthening your movement.
That said, adding trampoline exercise to your exercise 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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