Embracing Cellular Healing with Heather Creson
Join us in this enlightening podcast episode as Heather, an experienced massage therapist and bodyworker, shares her insights on the significance of delving beyond surface symptoms to address the root causes of pain and illness. Heather emphasizes the importance of cellular healing, shedding light on three essential aspects: waste elimination, stress regulation, and enhanced nutrient delivery to cells.
In a captivating conversation, Andrea and Heather explore the vital role of the lymphatic system and how it can become stagnant or blocked due to various factors, including an unhealthy diet, lack of movement, and poor posture. Discover why prioritizing lymphatic drainage is paramount for maintaining overall health and well-being.
Posture matters more than you think! Heather and Andrea discuss how proper posture can impact the vagus nerve and lymphatic system’s function, offering simple yet powerful techniques like sitting up straight, deep breathing, and specific lymphatic exercises to promote overall well-being.
Unlocking optimal health requires a strategic approach. Tune in as Heather and Andrea stress the importance of addressing the body’s systems in the right order—clearing the lymphatic system and ensuring proper digestion—before focusing on specific body parts or detoxification.
Explore the benefits of fasting as a means to repair and rejuvenate the body, allowing it to tap into its innate healing abilities. Additionally, Heather and Andrea share valuable resources on lymphatic drainage, vagal nerve stimulation, and support for long COVID recovery.
Discover the transformative potential of cellular healing and its ability to unlock your body’s path to optimal health and vitality. Don’t miss this eye-opening discussion with two experts dedicated to empowering you on your journey to well-being.
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Well, I live in Orlando, Florida. I’ve been a massage therapist and body worker for about 16 years. My undergrad is in health promotion and wellness. I had a background with exercise science and kinesiology and those types of things, which really helped me in the massage world. I did internships with active isolated stretching, and that really got me on a good path for working with professional athletes on one end. And then on the other end. And working with complicated neurological disorders. So we helped quadriplegics, paraplegics, Lou Gehrig’s disease. That was a really interesting one to start working on. So I had a wide variety of experiences that brought me to this place. I work on little kids. I work on really old people and everybody in between. So I’ve had a good time, lots of good experiences and even though I’ve had a great education, my clients have been the best education possible.
That’s so fun. I love that you’ve had such a wide range of experience in all the things. What are some of the things that you kind of get started with, with, know, someone that just comes to see you or that, you know, works with you directly?
What are some of the things that you kind of start with? Well, one of the problems in my industry has been that people always look at where somebody is hurting or where somebody is tight. So, they’ll come in for a massage and they say, my neck hurts. So, a massage therapist will work on the neck. They’ll stretch some of the tight muscles, but they tend to stay in that general area. They’re not necessarily looking at why all of those symptoms are occurring. So, if you start asking why that’s happening, you start getting different answers. So, instead of just looking at all the symptoms somebody’s experiencing, I like to start looking at how the systems in the body, all work together for that healing to occur. So, yeah, sometimes people can pull a muscle and it is a muscular issue, but if you start looking at pain or chronic disease, illness, coming back to inflammation and the root of inflammation, it is what we put into our bodies, but it’s also what we’re getting out of our bodies.
So, our immune system, our lymphatic system is very evolved with that inflammatory response. So, in my world, I was able to start looking at the lymphatic system to decrease the waste and toxins that are within and around the cells. So, as I start working with people, I really want to look at what is happening at that cellular level. And the very first thing that cells need in order to be able to heal is the ability to get rid of waste and toxins. The second thing they need is the capacity to adapt to Stress, so if our cells are stressed physiologically, whether it’s from not eating enough or eating the wrong types of things, if we’re not hydrated, if we don’t have the right minerals, or if we have outside stressors coming in there messing with those balances, it’s really going to hinder our ability to be able to heal.
So regulating that stress response to the cellular level, then the third thing I want to help people focus on is maximizing oxygen and nutrient delivery to the cells. So clearing the waste and toxins away from the cells is going to help the nutrients be able to get in. One of my favorite things, and I go restorative breathing is all the rage. These days, everybody’s talking about it. And I love it. think it’s fantastic. It’s a very valuable addition to any self-care practice. But one of the cool things about the way we use our breath is we need carbon dioxide in the bloodstream in order to dilate the capillaries to get oxygen into the cells. So if we’re breathing too quickly too much, if we’re hyperventilating, we get a ton of oxygen in the bloodstream, but that leads to chronic hyperventilation, which gives us tons of different symptoms like anxiety or overthinking. It can eventually, in extreme cases, possibly even lead to disease or those types of illnesses. From a muscular perspective, that’s totally different.
I see people chest breathing, they get their fascia and muscles up in the neck and shoulder area stuck. And then when they try to do those restorative breathing patterns, then you have tissue adhesions to clear up. But getting back to how cells heal, they need that oxygen to be able to get into the cell. So slowing down our breath, regulating those breathing patterns is going to help maximize the oxygen delivery into the cell; and oxygen, or in the presence of oxygen, is when we heal. So that’s what I start working with on people.
And you know, sometimes it takes a lot longer to explain it than it actually does to teach people how to do it. Like, some of these techniques you can integrate really, really quickly. And that’s what I love. I know we can, as healthcare providers, we can give a long list of things for people to do to get healthy. But it’s a matter of having the time and energy to do them. So I used to give really long lists when I was first starting out in practice. Nobody ever did them. And they weren’t getting better. So I was like, how can I shorten this to make it practical for people to put into their lives? And a lot of this stuff I teach, you can do when you’re doing other things. Restorative breathing, we can do that anytime we want. We can work on our posture anytime. Lymphatic drainage takes a little bit longer. But I try to make stuff short and simple into the point. Except when I’m talking and teaching. Then it goes forever.
No, I love it. I think that’s all fantastic. It always fascinates me when you really take a step back and look at these things that, number one, a lot of us are breathing wrong, like such a simple thing. And yet we just don’t pay attention to it. And so we’re not actually doing it, right? And second, that we can really over complicate these things. And it doesn’t need to be that difficult. We just need to get back to the foundations. And, you know, do the simple things, like you said.
Yeah. And doing things in the right order is important too. So if you’re adding tons of nutritious foods, but you aren’t clearing the lymphatic system and getting those lymph nodes cleared out, you can still have issues if you’re constipated. You can put whatever healthy things in, which typically should help that constipation. But if you’re not pooping, you’re not getting toxins out. So let’s do it in the right order. And then that’s our most. Powerful and productive healing work can begin.
Absolutely. That’s such a key critical part that everybody needs to focus on for sure. I’d love to just kind of back up a little bit and talk just broadly about the lymphatic system. For anybody out there that doesn’t even really know what that is, where is it found? does it do and maybe a little bit about then how do you keep that drainage open and keep it functioning?
Okay. I don’t want to give a huge list of bullet points about what the lymphatic system does because it kind of disconnects people from what it actually does. I like to use the analogy of an aquarium. So imagine a beautiful aquarium that’s filled with an incredible assortment of plants and coral and colorful fish. That water, when you look at it, it’s crystal clear, it’s continuously infused with life-giving oxygen. And in that environment, the life can thrive; fish are doing great. But the conditions within that tank are made And that’s the filtration system. And so the filtration system is there, impacts everything in the tank, just like our lymphatic system. Our lymphatic system is in so many places in our body and impacts everything.
So we have our vessels and capillaries and lymph nodes, but it’s really impacting a lot everywhere. So that underlying network of pipes and filters and pumps, it’s not pretty, it’s not glamorous, but it’s essential for maintaining the health of that tank. It’s going to filter out the waste, debris, and the toxic buildup and keep life thriving. But in a fish tank, think about what happens if the pumps stop working and the filters get clogged. The water stagnates, it gets cloudy, you get that algae, the fish start getting sick and they might even die.I don’t want to tell people they’re going to die with this, but the fish are not getting the nutrients and oxygen they need.
So then they don’t look so good. And you can empty the water, you can scrub the tank, can scrub the coral and everything. But if you don’t work on the filtration system, it’s going to quickly get back to that nasty state and the fish are going to get sick again. So the lymphatic system is like our own filtration system and helps us get to that stuff at the root level versus just changing all this stuff externally. So we can take medicines and do all these different things, we can take supplements, all of that. But we’ve got to clean the filters. Or it’s like cleaning your house and not taking out the trash. You can make it look really nice, but if you don’t take out the trash, it’s still going to be a stinky gross mess. And until you take care of that, you won’t have a clean house.
And what causes it to stagnate or not get cleared out appropriately?
We have this system. So what are we doing or how does it get kind of stuck or backed up? Well, the things we put into our bodies. So if we have. For putting junkie process foods in, if the chemicals and products we use to clean our house, personal care products, laundry detergents, all of these things create that toxic build-up. Sometimes it gets too much for the body to process. The liver gets overloaded. Another thing is not moving enough.
Like we have, especially, like since COVID and everybody’s in front of computers so much, we’re not moving. The lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, like our heart pumps blood. The lymphatic system needs us to move. It needs us to be doing deep breathing in order to get that fluid flowing.
If we’re sitting in our chairs, and this is related to posture, this is related to lymph, it’s related to breathing, we’re typically hunching forward a little bit, and that’s going to minimize the downward movement of the diaphragm. The downward movement of the diaphragm is what helps pump lymph in the abdomen and that compression really gets lymph flowing. If your diaphragm is not descending, it’s going to make you be more of a chest breather, which then shifts you into that more of a fight or flight state in your nervous system versus rest and digest and heal.
So, yeah, we have to be moving, we have to be working on healthy postural patterns to get that lymph flowing. I like looking at how all the systems work together and how people’s bodies are, but one of the things they’re not really talking about with lymphatic work is just how our body drains into the subclavian veins, which are right behind and a little bit below the collarbone and that’s where it drains back to the heart. Everything in the body, well, pretty much everything goes there. And so if we have that head forward posture, because we’re in front of the computer, if we’re hunching forward and just developing that roundedness, the lymphatic system, or I should say the flow of lymph is going to be impacted by that head forward posture. So again, if we have a chronic pattern of that, your tissues are going to form to that. So that’s where massage and body work really comes into play, but also working on your posture, keeping an upright structure just to help all of that.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And again, so simple. We just need to move. We just need to sit properly. We just need to be a mindful, you know, all these little things.
Takes one second to do it. Just the thought.
Yeah, love it. You also do a lot of work with the vagus nerve. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how this all kind of goes together?
Yes. So the vagus nerve connects to a bunch of stuff in the body, but it exits the skull kind of right behind your ear lobe at the jugular foramen. Then it goes down your neck, it touches your heart, your lungs, your liver. goes all through your digestive tract. Most of the vagus nerve or most of the job that it does is reporting back to the brain, what’s going on. I think that’s about 80%. But the rest of what the vagus nerve does is bridging that communication pathway and telling the body what to do. Anyway, one of the big things it does is regulate the inflammatory response. And another big thing is regulating the stress response. So if the vagus nerve is damaged, if it’s inhibited. So if we have that head forward posture where it’s coming out behind, we’re going to disrupt some of that function. It’s coming down our neck and by the throat. So if we have a head forward posture, it could be impacting vagus nerve function.
So you want to be taking care of it. this is how the lymphatic system ties into it. You have a really big lymph node behind your ear lobe. So if your lymphatic system is swollen, it’s putting pressure on that nerve right where it exits the skull. So then it can disrupt function anywhere else in your body.
So if you have liver problems, lung, heart, digestive, even the uterus is connected. So any place that nerve goes, as well as the other nerves, if you have a lymphatic vessel that’s by it, if the lymphatic vessel is congested, it can put pressure on that nerve and create pain or inflammation or dysfunction.
So that’s why I say all these I can do vagus nerve work in isolation and it’s beneficial. I can do restorative breathing work on its own and it’s beneficial. But once you get all these systems working together and you know how they work together, it’s a very powerful result. Or even lymphatic drainage working on the abdomen. If you have inflammation and congested lymph in the abdomen, it’s going to prevent again that downward motion of the diet.
So if people are having trouble with restorative breathing patterns, try clearing lymph first. And then the diaphragm descending, the vagus nerve runs through the diaphragm. So if your breathing patterns aren’t right, then it’s not facilitating and helping vagus nerve function. So that’s how that’s how all of this stuff is working together. My little rabbit mind – that’s how it sees it.
It’s so interesting how it all goes together. Are there things people can do at home? there some simple things that they could maybe even start doing right now while they’re watching this?
For lymphatic vagus nerve or restorative breathing.
All of the above. Anything that would just help them overall feel better.
Very first thing that’s sitting up. I call it a sternal lift. The exercise in my little manual that I have. It takes way too long to explain it. Just lift your sternum up an inch and sit up straight. Bring your head back. Open your shoulders little bit. your arms hang down. Then with that space you’ve created, take a deeper breath. I know a lot of people recommend box breathing – you inhale for four or hold for four, exhale for four and then hold for four. That’s a really popular one.
From my background as a body worker, I don’t love it because a lot of people when they’re experiencing trauma or traumatic memories, they still hold their breath. So I like to help people breathe through that and not get into that breath holding pattern. You’ll see a lot of people when they’re doing corrective exercise, they hold their breath. So I don’t love breath holding for those reasons. So when I teach people, I recommend inhaling for four and then exhaling for a count of eight or however long you can exhale. Just an elongated exhale and that’s going to start helping to balance oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. Sometimes people will feel lightheaded when they do that.
If you do, just breathe normally again until your body feels like it regulates. As for the lymphatic system, those two things I just talked about are going to help start the foundation for improving the flow of lymph. So little, I have a whole routine that I can teach people. I think you have a link. I have one for the head and neck that. You can share with your audience. That’s a good place to start. With lymphatic work, you really want to clear the points closest to the collarbone first.
So it’s like a traffic jam. You don’t get cars at the back of the line to move first because there’s not a place for them to go. You have to clear the blockage at the front first and then traffic can start flowing appropriately. So the same thing is true in the lymphatic system. You want to clear it close to the drain. So you need to open beneath that in order for the head and neck to drain.
So the lymphatic system is system is for the entire system. The brain and spinal cord have their own dedicated waste removal system, the lymphatic system in the brain, and it’s called the glymphatic system. So that is most active when we sleep. It’s so many regenerative functions happen during that time, but you need the lymphatic system cleared first in order for stuff in the head to drain.
So that’s why I say the order of things is really important because if we try to do everything for brain health, you need to make sure everything else is working first too.
Oh, that makes so much sense. And we can’t just isolate one body part. We’re really one big ecosystem and it all has to be working well. And I love that you talk about doing things in the right order because I don’t think that’s a message that a lot of people are sharing, but I think that applies to a lot of things. And we do need to not only do the right things, but do them in the right order and for the right amount of time. And so I think that’s a really valuable lesson.
Yeah, and it’s going to be unique to everybody, but our body systems work in very specific orders. Like, again, if you’re not pooping, any detox things you do are not going to be valuable. Or if your liver’s already overloaded, you’ve got to take that load off the liver first, and then it can start processing stuff better. So I see a lot of people, they’ll do detoxes and they’ll get really sick. But I’m like, you’re not detoxing because it’s good. You’re detoxing because your body or you’re feeling like garbage because your body’s overloaded and you can’t get it out. So it might be slower to get the right systems working in the right order, but it’s far more effective.
Yeah, absolutely. And it won’t work if you go in the wrong order. Like you said, I mean, pooping is a big thing. If that’s not happening, anything else you do is pretty much not going to work or it’s going to come out in other ways and you’ll feel worse, so you’re going to have rashes or other skin issues or breathing problems or it’s going to come out in another way or it’s just going to get stuck and make you feel really terrible. We do have to go in the right order for sure. I love that. How do people find you and what kind of information can they find when they do?
My website is defyyourlimits.com. And when you get there, there will be just scroll down a little and there’s a freebie. It talks about the missing link in your healing process. And that will show people the head and neck routine that I like to do. Now, I’ve already talked about head and neck should be a little bit later on in your healing, but I really like it because people still do get good results. They just get better results when they integrate the whole body. But you can find that there.
I found myself in the middle of a political and medical controversy with COVID. But. But. Because the skillset that I have deals with inflammation, I was perfect for being able, or I was in a perfect position to be able to help people with long COVID. So I have a resource there. It has different information, but it’s actually the same video. If anybody struggling with long COVID, I have that too. But yeah, that was just a little unique thing I found during that time period like, Oh, I’m able to help people with this specific thing that they haven’t even named. It’s as long COVID yet. But I had a really good experience doing that and have done a deep dive into all of those symptoms and how you can heal from them.
So I love it. And for anyone that doesn’t know, can you just give kind of a high level, like, what symptoms would people be dealing with in case they don’t know that that is actually the root of their problem?
That’s been a tough one. They just recently started coming out with definitions. But the thing that I saw in practice is that it attacked It people at their reach. I think it’s a link. And that’s how everybody was describing it. So if somebody was dealing with chronic pain, their chronic pain got 10 times worse. If they were dealing with brain fog, it got even worse. Anxiety got really bad. Depression, a lot of mental health things. But that for me in my world, that ties back into the glibatic system and clearing all that away. It was just massively inflated. And it’s and had a very different pattern than anything I’ve seen in 16 years. And people had a really hard time. And you’ve probably seen that in your practice too. So, I mean, yeah, the brain fog and neurological issues and muscle aches and pains, headaches and migraines. All those are very common long COVID things. But everybody was really different in where it hit them. A lot of gut problems. Some people with heart problems. One of the things that the spike protein really affects the endothelial cells that line lymphatic and blood vessels. So if you have problems in there and it’s creating inflammation, it’s going to impact wherever those blood and lymphatic vessels go and that’s everywhere.
So learning how to deal with the spike protein is huge. There are some really good supplements for it. I have that in my COVID line of things. But yeah, getting the lymphatic system cleared out, helping the immune system start regulating. A lot of people are getting success with long COVID doing intermittent fasting because intermittent fasting in a specific duration is stimulating autophagy. Well, we always have autophagy going on in the body. Autophagy is the cells cleaning themselves and they either clean themselves or they destroy themselves when their job is done, but the spike protein hides in the cells and wreaks havoc on everything.
And one of the only ways to finally get out of the body and kill it is through increasing the pace of autophagy and you can do that through intermittent fasting. Typically for COVID that’s happening in about the 24 hour morning. So, 18 to 24 hours. Everybody’s a little different. Sometimes women don’t do it as well with intermittent fasting and long duration. yeah, all of that is there.
I love it. That’s all awesome information and sounds like fantastic resources. So we will definitely link all that up in the show notes. And yeah, fasting is one of my absolute favorite things for helping to repair lots of things. know, it really is your helping your body heal itself. I just love it. So I’m always a big fan of anything we can do that’s, you know, allowing our bodies to do what it’s supposed to do and just get out of the way and let it happen. So I think that’s a fantastic strategy.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining me today and we will absolutely link up all of your information in the show notes for anyone to reach out to you to learn all of the things about lymphatic drainage and vagal nerve stimulation and long COVID help and all of the things.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us and we will catch you again in the future.
Thanks so much.