There are dozens of massage options out there with different uses and benefits.
One of the lesser-known massage techniques is lymphatic drainage massage.
What is lymphatic drainage massage?
Lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle massage that promotes the movement of lymph through the lymphatic system so it can drain.
To understand this type of massage, you need to know a bit about the lymphatic system and lymph. The lymphatic system plays a role in immunity and the balance of fluids in the body tissues.
Lymph is the fluid that moves through the lymphatic system. It is made up of different components including white blood cells and the fluid found between cells known as interstitial fluid. As it moves through, lymph also accumulates waste that it carries away from the body tissues.
As the lymphatic system does not have its own pump, lymph can be slow moving. When it comes to certain conditions, this can lead to excess fluid build-up in an area of the body. This is where lymphatic drainage can be beneficial.
Is it painful?
As the technique requires a very gentle pressure, it should not be painful for most people. Most people will find it soothing and relaxing. Some people are able to even fall asleep!
What are the benefits of lymphatic drainage massage?
There are a few main benefits of this type of massage.
The most important point to note is that lymphatic drainage pumps the lymph/fluid out of the lymphatic system so that it can drain. It is done via the circulatory system, then out through the kidneys and then released by emptying out the bladder. This helps to reduce fluid retention in problem areas.
Promoting lymph drainage can also be generally helpful for immunity, as it encourages the movement of white blood cells found in the lymph.
Lymphatic massage can help to increase general circulation and blood flow.
What types of conditions can it help with?
There are specific conditions that lymphatic massage is used to treat, including:
- Lymphoedema – any swelling that occurs due to the accumulation of lymph in a particular body part. This can occur after removal of lymph nodes such as after breast cancer surgery or due to cysts in the lymphatic system, but sometimes the cause is unknown.
- Lipoedema – a condition affecting the legs, where excess fat deposits occur on the legs, thighs, buttocks and upper arms. This can interfere with the lymphatic system and slow lymph flow.
- Osteoarthritis – particularly when there are areas of swelling around joint.
- Oedema (fluid retention), particularly if it occurs after surgery.
- Chronic venous insufficiency – when the valves of the veins in the leg don’t function correctly, leading to a build-up of fluid
This form of massage uses gentle pressure, and is considered to be a procedure more so than a massage.
Are there times where lymphatic drainage massage would be dangerous?
As with any form of healthcare, there are a few times where this type of massage is not recommended.
These include conditions where moving lymph through the system is potentially detrimental – for example, heart failure, kidney failure, blood clots or an active viral infection. Once the virus has resolved lymphatic drainage massage can help the immune system to reset.
Sierra, is our therapist who performs lymphatic drainage massage and is highly experienced in performing these treatment.