Lymphatic drainage massage is a type of massage therapy that can help relieve swelling that occurs when medical treatments or poor health lead to blockages in the lymphatic system. This is the part of the body that protects us from infection and disease.
Certain health conditions — including obesity, inflammation, infection, and cancer — can cause lymph fluid to pool, a condition known as lymphedema. A lymphatic drainage massage can help reduce this by using gentle pressure to move lymph (excess fluid) from your tissues to your lymph nodes.
“If you think of your body like a fish tank, the lymphatic system acts like a filtration system,” says Jules Willcocks, founder of Body Ballancer® Systems Ltd. “If you don’t take care of the filter pipes, no matter how often you refill them with fresh water, they would quickly clog and poison.”
Willcocks says it’s because the mechanics that help keep the water fresh and healthy aren’t working properly. The lymphatic system works the same way – if you don’t have a fully functioning, healthy lymphatic system, over time it will become clogged with toxins, leading to a host of health problems.”
Here we dive deeper into how lymphatic drainage works, the possible benefits and a step-by-step guide on how to do a lymphatic drainage massage yourself.
What is a lymphatic drainage massage?
“The lymphatic system sits alongside the body’s cardiovascular system and silently helps take care of your health,” explains Willcocks. “The reason it is so important is because it serves three crucial functions. It supports your immune system by removing toxins, dead blood cells, pathogens and other waste. It helps your body absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins from your digestive system and deliver these nutrients to cells where they are used for fuel. And it also removes excess fluid – known as ‘lymph’ – and waste products from the spaces between the body’s cells and organs.”
Willcock says a healthy lymphatic system can be compromised by illness, lack of exercise, stress, poor diet, or toxic overload. This can lead to a range of problems including tissue swelling, poor skin tone, obesity, cellulite, headacheJoint pain, fatigue and increased susceptibility to disease.
“Lymphatic drainage massage can help keep the body functioning by improving lymphatic flow,” she says. “The massage gently targets the delicate lymphatic vessels and nodes that sit just under the skin and require very light pressure to move fluid through the skin. In contrast, treatments like aromatherapy, exercise, and Swedish massage work with a firmer touch on a different area of the body and muscles.”
What does lymphatic drainage do?
Lymphatic drainage massage, or manual lymphatic drainage as it is also known, can help the body maintain blood circulation, body fluid balance, and immune function.
It is a massage technique aimed at promoting the natural movement of lymphatic fluids studies It is suggested that it may help people with the following health conditions:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lymphedema (swelling in the legs, feet or arms)
- Fibromyalgia (a long-term condition that causes inflammation, discoloration of the skin, and swelling)
- Chronic venous insufficiency (when the veins in the legs don’t allow blood to flow back to the heart, causing blood to pool in the legs)
A randomized controlled trial Examining the effects of lymphatic drainage on health-related quality of life and symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency also found that it helped reduce pain levels.
What Are the Potential Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage?
“The lymphatic system supports your immune system by removing toxins, eliminating excess fluid, and helping your body absorb vitamins from your digestive system,” says Willcocks. “As we know, the lymphatic system can often become blocked or overwhelmed by stress, illness and an unhealthy lifestyle. While good nutrition and regular exercise are important, lymphatic drainage can boost your lymphatic system, resulting in a variety of health, aesthetic, and fitness benefits.”
This could include:
- Reduction of swelling caused by water retention
- Boosting the immune system to prevent illness and disease
- Removal of pathogens and toxins
- improve digestion
- Helps you feel lighter and less bloated
- Support sleep and relaxation
- improvement in body shape
- Supporting faster muscle regeneration to support training
How to perform a lymphatic drainage massage
Not only will you receive a lymphatic drainage massage from a certified therapist, you can also learn basic techniques to use at home.
“To perform a lymphatic drainage massage, use gentle pressure that’s applied only to the skin—that is, don’t press so hard that you feel the muscle,” says Lizzie Read, sports massage and sports therapy coach at P3RFORM. “Use a flat palm or fingertips and smooth, gentle movements. Although lymphatic massage can be used to reduce swelling and inflammation, avoid massaging swollen areas directly as this could cause further irritation of that area.
“Lymphatic fluid eventually drains into the bloodstream at the base of the neck, so this is the most important place any lymphatic massage should focus – even if you have swelling or inflammation in other areas. Use slow, mindful movements – not hard and fast like you might find with a deep tissue massage. Find an easy rhythm while practicing the lymphatic massage. Do not massage in circular motions, massage in strokes, in one direction only.”
Bergmann, A., Baiocchi, J., & de Andrade, M. (2021). Conservative treatment of lymphedema: state of the art. Journal vascular brasileiro, 20e20200091. https://doi.org/10.1590/1677-5449.200091
dos Santos Crisóstomo, RS, Costa, DS, de Luz Belo Martins, C., Fernandes, TI, & Armada-da-Silva, PA (2015). Impact of manual lymphatic drainage on health-related quality of life and symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency: a randomized controlled trial. Archives for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 96(2), 283-291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2014.09.020
What is a lymphatic drainage massage and how does it work? Source link What is a lymphatic drainage massage and how does it work?