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Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage

10th November 2021
Lymph Massage

The human body consists of cells, tissues, and organs that are grouped in systems. Each of these systems has a certain function with the ultimate goal of sustaining life. One of these systems is the lymphatic system, also known as lymphoid system – a complex network of vessels, nodes, and lymph, spread throughout the body.

Unlike the blood system, however, the lymphoid system has no pumping mechanism and relies on the natural movement of muscles and other organs to get the lymph circulating. This allows the body to dispose of excess waste, toxins, and other dangerous substances – a process known as lymphatic drainage. If lymph drainage is impaired the body might accumulate too much waste. In this case, a lymphatic drainage massage comes in handy.

In this article we are going to explore lymph drainage massage in greater detail, will examine the lymphatic drainage massage benefits, and will answer the frequently asked question: “does lymphatic drainage massage work for weight loss?” So, without further ado, let’s get started.

What is lymphatic drainage massage good for?

Rheumatoid arthritis
In recent years, lymphatic drainage massage (LDM) has gained a lot of popularity due to its numerous health benefits. The main purpose of the procedure is to aid the circulation of the lymph fluid and to promote the normal functioning of the lymphoid system. This, in its turn, leads to improved blood circulation, better bodily fluid balance, and a stronger immune function.

When the circulation of the lymph fluid slows down the lymphatic system gets clogged up and the body starts accumulating too much waste. The excess waste affects the normal functioning of other vital systems in the organism, including the immune system. If ignored, over time this process might lead to the development of many pathological conditions, such as decreased immunity, poor blood circulation, and lymphedema (swelling in the limbs).
This is why health specialists recommend the frequent use of a lymph drainage massage. Over the years, the holistic procedure has been proven to be beneficial for relieving the symptoms of several conditions, such as:

  • Lymphedema – the swelling observed in the upper or lower extremities due to a physical injury, various infections, chemotherapy, or operation;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – a pathological condition of the skeletal system that is associated with pain in the joints, tissue swelling, and decreased joint function;
  • Chronic venous insufficiency – a condition that is related to the abnormal functioning of the valves and the walls of the veins, making it difficult for the venous blood to move from the lower limbs to the heart. This is among the major factors for developing varicose veins;
  • Weight loss – many people take advantage of lymphatic massage for weight loss. The procedure aids blood circulation, speeds up the fat-burning rate, and helps the body get rid of excess water.

How is a lymphatic drainage massage done?

Lymphatic MassageThe ultimate goal of this type of massage is to open the lymph vessels and to let the excess lymph fluid drain back into the lymphoid nodes. There are different types of LDMs, depending on the body area you wish to target. The procedure can be performed on the upper body or the leg area but the specialist recommends that it is done on the whole body, moving in a certain direction – usually from top to bottom.

People who wish to get lymphatic drainage treatment can turn to a trained professional, or learn some basic techniques that can be done in the home setting. You can either stand, sit, or lay down, as long as you feel comfortable and relaxed. Keep in mind that you should massage only the skin, so keep your hands relaxed, be gentle, and do not press too hard. Furthermore, do not treat areas that are swollen or have undergone recent surgery.

Once you are ready to begin, follow these steps:

  • Prepare the body – start by breathing deeply and slowly, after which give a gentle massaging on the neck (back, sides, and front), under the arms, and behind the knees;
  • Start lymphatic drainage massage on the upper body – give gentle massaging to the chest, shoulders, upper arms, full arms, and fingers. Place your palm on the bottom of the area and move it upwards;
  • Continue with lymphatic drainage massage on the lower body – give gentle massaging to the upper legs, lower legs, and toes. Place your palm at the top of the area and move it downwards;

How often should you get a lymphatic drainage massage?

Lymphatic drainage massage is a type of gentle treatment that uses non-invasive techniques. It is very helpful for people who suffer from lymphedema, autoimmune disorders, cellulite, and excess body fat accumulation. It has been established that LDM aids blood circulation, speeds up metabolism, and promotes stronger immune function. Other lymphatic drainage massage benefits include the elimination of excess waste and toxins, as well as the reduction of body fat percentage.

To get all the benefits associated with this form of non-invasive massaging, you need to perform it on a regular basis, using the correct techniques. For best results, the health specialists recommend a series of sessions that are carried every 3 to 6 months. The course is usually spread over a period of 6 weeks, with a total of 12 sessions:

  • Week 1 and 2 – 3 sessions per week
  • Week 3 and 4 – 2 sessions per week
  • Week 5 and 6 – 1 session per week

Is lymphatic drainage massage safe?

Cardio conditions
According to numerous studies, such as this one, lymphatic drainage massage is considered useful and safe for relieving the symptoms of conditions, such as lymphedema, oedema, cellulite, ‌rheumatoid arthritis, venous insufficiency, high cholesterol, chronic stress, and others. Furthermore, many people use lymphatic massage for weight loss, detox, tissue regeneration, and immune function stimulation.

Having said that, there are certain conditions and personal circumstances during which the massaging procedure is contraindicated. Some of the most common conditions in which you should avoid doing LDM include:

  • Cardiovascular pathological conditions
  • Formation of blood clots in the arteries
  • Kidney failure, also known as End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

If you suffer from some of these conditions and are not sure whether you should perform a lymphatic drainage massage, you must speak to your doctor.

Final thoughts

Lymphatic drainage massage offers a great means for enhancing your immunity, decreasing cellulite, speeding up waste disposal, toning up the body, and reducing overall body fat percentage, among others. It is very important to perform the massage using the right techniques, or if in doubt – turn to a trained specialist and have peace of mind. Make sure you drink plenty of water to keep your body well hydrated and maintain a higher level of physical activity. Live Healthily!

References (in order of appearance)

Vairo, G. L., Miller, S. J., McBrier, N. M., & Buckley, W. E. (2009). Systematic review of efficacy for manual lymphatic drainage techniques in sports medicine and rehabilitation: an evidence-based practice approach. The Journal of manual & manipulative therapy, 17(3), e80–e89.

Debra Doherty, RGN BSc MSc, and Anne Williams, Associate Lecturer, (2004). The physiological effects of massage on individuals with lymphoedema/chronic oedema, and its role in the development of clinical techniques used in practice: a systematic review., JBI Library of Systematic Reviews: Volume 2 – Issue 5 – p 1-17.

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