October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We don’t often think about breast health — unless we hear the words “breast cancer.” Furthermore, when the words “breast health” or breast cancer” come up, most people think of women. However, there are a number of reasons both women and men should focus on the health of their chest area.
Why pay attention to the chest area?
The chest area is an essential area for both women and men to take care of because there is an essential network of lymph glands (nodes). It is also a center for much-needed circulation.
What are lymph nodes and what do they do?
Lymph nodes are located in your armpits, groin, neck and around the blood vessels of your chest and abdomen. The main functions of lymph nodes are to filter the lymph (fluid that flows through the body) and to remove harmful microorganisms, damaged or dead tissue cells, large protein molecules, and toxic substances. This plays a direct role with our immune system and fighting disease.
Both men and women can practice these moves to improve breast and chest health:
- Arm circles help foster healthy circulation and lymph flow for the upper body and can reduce lymph fluid buildup that occurs when you move around less than you should. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and stretch your arms out at shoulder height. Move your arms in forward circles, starting small and gradually making bigger circles. Reverse the direction of the circles after about 10 seconds.
- Cherry picking is a simple move that gets your arms up and overhead, improving circulation and cardiovascular health. It also helps reduces lymph blockage. From a standing position, raise one arm straight above your head and reach for the sky (you’ll lean a bit to the opposite side); repeat with other arm.
- The downward dog pose encourages full-body blood circulation, strengthens the entire body and improves the immune system.
- The bridge pose helps create “opening” in the chest and deepen breathing and circulation. This pose is wonderful for drivers because they often sit all day, hunched forward behind the wheel, closing off the chest. It’s also easy to do in the sleeper berth!
- Neck and chest massage is easy to do, and it’s a great way to break up tension and allow blood and lymph to flow more easily through the chest. Use your fingers or a massage ball to massage around your clavicle, neck and shoulders in the morning and again at night.
- The truck step pull back stretch is an all-body stretch that particularly focuses on releasing the shoulders, underarm area and lower back. Grab the truck step, bench or bar and sit back; breathe deep and relax your arms to stretch deep.
- Walking is a great way to keep your lymphatic system working optimally. Lack of movement is one of the biggest challenges our lymphatic system faces, and every minute counts. Walk in place, add an extra lap about your truck or walk a lap around the parking lot — it all adds up.
Finally, don’t forget to hydrate. Your lymphatic system and circulatory system rely heavily on fluids — not soda or coffee, but water. As a bonus, try adding a pinch of Celtic sea salt for a boost in essential minerals.
As a driver, it may seem difficult to take care of your health, but a little goes a long way.
Pick just one of the moves above and commit to doing it every day for a week. The next week, add a second move; the third week, add another. You’ll slowly build up a routine that promotes not just breast health, but your best health today, tomorrow and for years to come.
Hope Zvara is the CEO of Mother Trucker Yoga, a company devoted to improving truck drivers’ fitness and wellness standards. She has been featured in Forbes and Yahoo News, and is a regular guest on SiriusXM Radio. Her practical strategies show drivers how they can go from unhealthy and out of options to feeling good again. For more information, visit www.mothertruckeryoga.com.
Hope Zvara is the CEO of Mother Trucker Yoga, a company devoted to improving truck drivers’ fitness and wellness standards. She has been featured in Forbes and Yahoo News, and is a regular guest on SiriusXM Radio. Her practical strategies show drivers how they can go from unhealthy and out of options to feeling good again.