What is lymphatic drainage massage?
Lymphatic drainage massage is a very light massage technique that uses small sweeping motions towards the body’s lymph nodes, to help stimulate the circulation of lymphatic fluid (lymph) around your body.
By improving the circulation of lymph and clearing the lymph nodes, lymphatic drainage massage detoxifies the body and boosts the immune system. This massage technique can be used to help treat a number of health conditions and illnesses.
A brief look at the lymphatic system
Your lymphatic system is part of your body’s second line of defence against infection and disease. It contains the immune cells that move around and protect the body from harmful invaders.
The lymphatic system is made up of three distinct parts:
• Lymph vessels, these are thin tubes that run throughout the body just under the skin. They contain lymph.
• Lymph is fluid in which white blood (immune) cells are found.
• Lymph nodes are small, round masses of tissue that are found in certain areas (such as the neck, groin and armpits). They filter bacteria and other foreign materials out of lymph and expose them to B and T cells and macrophages that can engulf them. These cells multiply in response to accumulation of such materials, which is why lymph nodes swell during infections.
The lymphatic system is also supported by the thymus and spleen, which filter the blood, and tonsils.
Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Every part of the body is influenced by the lymphatic system, because no matter what the purpose of the cells, they all need nourishing and cleaning.
It’s important in immunity, inflammation and healing in general, so an efficient lymphatic system is going to help in many areas. Lymphatic drainage is a way to achieve that efficiency.
• Skin care - for a clearer complexion and to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in facial tissue, as well as reducing puffiness around the eyes. Old scar tissue can be reduced and the appearance of new scars can be minimized. It’s commonly used before and after cosmetic surgery.
• Detox - at the end of winter, or after a period of high stress, the body will really benefit from lymphatic drainage, to reduce the sluggishness brought on by too many starchy, high fat foods and too little exercise.
• Headache - most headaches including sinusitis have a component of congestion that responds well to lymphatic drainage. Once tissue is decongested, blocked fluid and blood flow improve, reducing pain and discomfort.
• Promote healing - after surgery or injury, the tissue may be swollen and sore. Lymphatic drainage is a gentle treatment that will help drain the tissue, reduce inflammation and improve healing.
• Pregnancy and after - there is often fluid retention in pregnant women and lymphatic drainage can improve comfort especially in legs and feet. Breast feeding may be enhanced by this treatment, especially when there are problems with blocked ducts and sore tight breasts.
• Reduce swelling - after long periods of immobility such as air travel or lessened mobility, fluid tends to stagnate in the tissue making it puffy and tender. Conditions such as arthritis often have joints that are congested with fluid. All of these respond well when fluid is reduced with lymphatic drainage.
• Relaxation - because it is such a gentle treatment, it is one of the most relaxing. The relaxation is enhanced as the cleansing and rejuvenating effects relieve stress.
Additional help for your Lymphatic System
To amplify the befits of a lymphatic drainage massage for your body you can gradually start to include or increase the following in your life:
• Gentle exercise – as the lymphatic system doesn’t have its own pump like the vascular system, it relies on the movement of the smooth muscles around the vessels to move the lymph around your body.
• Drink plenty of water - at least 2 liters a day. Your body needs water to stay hydrated to keep your lymph fluid flowing properly.
• Wear loose clothing – as the lymph vessels are situated just under your skin, overly tight clothing can slow down lymph flow and can cause blockages.
• Deep breathing – this stimulates lymph flow to avoid toxin build-up and brings more fresh oxygen to your cells.