Can Jumping On a Trampoline Actually Help You Detox? |

Can Jumping On a Trampoline Actually Help You Detox?

Trampolines are a popular feature in backyards and gymnastics clubs, enticing people of all ages to bounce, tumble, and defy gravity — even just for 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 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 over 26 feet in the air while twisting and turning their bodies in complex choreographed formations. These trampolinists are high-level athletes who have extraordinary 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 grew, their potential health benefits have been explored. It’s clear trampolines can provide a good cardio workout. However, some proponents take it a step further and maintain that trampolines also can detoxify the body and activate the lymphatic system.

Not surprisingly, this concept emerged around the same time the sport was introduced to the Olympics. Here, we dig into these detoxification claims, examine the evidence, and clarify the role of the lymphatic system.

Can Jumping on a Trampoline Help the Body Detox? 

Detoxification is a buzzy concept in the health and fitness world, with the market for detox gadgets, goods, and consumables estimated at more than $56 billion. The theory behind the claim that trampoline exercise supports detoxification is that rebounding boosts toxin elimination for clearer skin, more effortless weight loss, and flushing “wastes” and “infection.”

“The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and assists the body in fighting off infections,” says Reid Maclellan, MD, the founder and CEO of Cortina and 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 combat illnesses. Alternative health gurus believe the lymphatic system needs assistance in completing this role — particularly 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 stuff your lymph system filters. They argue that the rapid changes in gravity you experience from jumping on a trampoline cause your lymphatic vessels to expand, leading to better lymph circulation. But does the 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 research background in oncology.

Overlapping cells of lymphatic vessels form one-way valves, allowing fluid to enter but not exit with a build-up of pressure. This fluid moves with help from breathing and muscle activity — all without needing a pump or any other assistance.

A Look at the Studies Behind the Detoxification Claims

study published by NASA in 1980 forms the backbone of most trampoline detoxification arguments. During this study, a group of NASA researchers sought to determine the ideal type of exercise astronauts should do in a zero-gravity environment to prevent deterioration of their hearts, muscles, and bones.

The study focused on analyzing the acceleration of different body parts during specific exercises, says Kirby. “The study measured the speed of an astronaut’s movements while jumping, but they did not measure the movement of lymphatic fluid.”

Consequently, 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, says Kirby. “This study measured how to remove the lymph fluid with massage, not trampolines.”

Finally, a small pilot study on leg swelling from lymphedema (the build-up of fluid in soft body tissues) examined whether specific exercises, including using a trampoline in the water, could relieve it. This study was poor quality, not controlled, and only studied 11 participants, Kirby says. “So no, trampolines do not detox 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 component of the lymphatic system.” Here are some ways you may benefit from utilizing a trampoline.

Muscle contraction and sweating move lymph fluid

Muscle contraction moves lymph fluid through the lymphatic system, Dr. Maclellan explains, so any type of exercise that causes muscle contraction can benefit the lymphatic system, including rebounding. 

Likewise, sweating from exercise and movement, in general, will help with detoxing via the lymphatic system, says Carl Paige, MD, co-founder and CMO of 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 also burn calories and rev up your metabolism by increasing your heart rate, says Kirby. “Any movement will mobilize body fluids and eventually lead to weight loss, which is why some people think that jumping directly causes lymphatic fluid mobilization.”

Cardio exercise lowers stress and cholesterol levels

Cardio exercise, like jumping on a trampoline, comes with a ton of positive mental and physical health effects, too. These include everything from better blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels to lower stress and anxiety and improved sleep quality. 

But you don’t have to exercise on a trampoline to reap the rewards. Any form of cardio and resistance-based exercise supports your lymphatic system and overall health — from running to powerlifting. Trampolines are just one, albeit exceedingly fun, way of accomplishing those goals.

Importance of a Healthy Lymphatic System

Keeping your lymphatic system healthy is crucial for your overall well-being. While your arteries take oxygenated blood into your tissues and your veins take it out, anything that leaks out or is left over from this exchange is picked up by your lymphatic system, explains Dr. Paige. “When your tissue is finished with the blood that was delivered to it, fluids, cells, waste, byproducts from metabolism, and other things your body doesn’t need remains.”

According to Dr. Paige, if your lymphatic mobility and functioning are poor, it impacts your immune system, thymus, T cell production, and modulation. “Your lymph nodes don’t drain, which means you could be puffy or even experience severe forms of lymphedema,” he says.

One 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, Dr. Paige says. “Ideally, this process occurs every day, usually at night, when your position and the recovery mode of your sleep cycle allow your brain to move the lymph, and thus waste, away.”

Studies suggest that the status of glymphatic health may affect your inflammatory and central nervous system immune response, Dr. Paige says. “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 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 such as pesticides and cleaning products, keeping yourself hydrated, and exercising regularly. Eating a nutritious diet also is beneficial. If you are healthy, your lymphatic system doesn’t need anything special besides 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. Paige recommends swimming, using massage, wearing compression wraps, and avoiding restrictive clothing.

How to Mimic a Lymphatic Drainage Massage at Home

Bottom Line? Bounce for Fun, Not to Detox

While the long-standing claims that trampolines can help detoxify the body and activate the lymphatic system are intriguing, the evidence just isn’t enough to support them. All scientific signs point to trampolines being just another tool for boosting 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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