The human body is a fascinating ecosystem of bones, muscles, tissues, and fibres. It works simultaneously to pump blood, digest food, create energy and remove toxic waste.
There are plenty of ways that we can keep our bodies happy and healthy through diet and exercise. But, wellness treatments can also help your body remove waste and toxins effectively. That’s exactly what a lymphatic drainage massage is all about.
The plus side? Lymphatic drainage is known for its many benefits, including improvement of skin problems (eg. cellulite and acne), chronic pain management and even fighting off infection!
A lymphatic drainage massage isn’t as well known as a classic Swedish relaxation or deep tissue massage. After increasing in popularity over the past few years, lymphatic massages are finally getting their time in the spotlight.
Let’s explain how a lymphatic drainage massage works, the benefits of a lymphatic massage and why you’ll feel energised, relaxed and rejuvenated after your very first session.
What is a lymphatic drainage massage?
Are you thinking about incorporating massage treatments into your wellness routine? Before you book a session, it’s essential to know the differences between the different massage types to pick the best one for you.
A lymphatic drainage massage uses very light pressure and long, rhythmic strokes that help the lymph fluid move and direct toxins to your larger organs to remove the waste. An experienced massage therapist will use specific techniques, such as light stroking across the lymph nodes, to re-stimulate the natural contractions of your lymphatic system.
It’s nothing like a deep tissue massage, and instead uses soothing and relaxing strokes and light pressure that help to support your body’s natural drainage processes.
Benefits of a lymphatic drainage massage
Now, let’s do a deep dive into those benefits we keep talking about! Your lymphatic system is a beautiful network of tissues that is ultimately the recycling bin for your body. This system should be constantly moving, and if things become stagnant you may notice swelling and excess fluid build-up.
As this relaxing, gentle massage doesn’t require much pressure to move the fluids it is a great massage for all ages. Lymphatic drainage is not considered a painful treatment, however, there may be some level of discomfort when receiving this massage as it targets areas of the body that may be painful or sensitive to touch.
The benefits definitely do outweigh the discomfort though, with lymphatic drainage massage treating many different areas of the body, including:
Improve cellulite, skin swelling, scar tissue, acne, and stretch marks
Due to the lymphatic system directly impacting how our skin looks and feels, the improvement of skin problems is a great benefit from a lymphatic drainage massage. For those that have problems with facial or body acne, this type of massage is great as it uses gentle strokes, reducing inflammation on the skin as well as draining lymph fluid away from areas of infection.
Reduce water retention and aids digestion
Water retention reduction and improved digestion is achieved by fluid being drained from your gut and reabsorbed by the large lymphatic system. This can, in turn, boost weight loss and help to heal any gut-related problems that have caused weight gain.
Promote weight loss
Fight off infection
Speed up healing and recovery from the cold and flu
Help with post-exercise recovery
A lymphatic drainage massage boosts your immune system, allowing for better recovery from illness and fighting off future infection. As the lymphatic system is the first defence against infection within the body, draining lymph fluid for it to reabsorb allows for the body to fight back quicker. This is the same with post-exercise recovery, which allows muscles to recover quickly from overuse.
Reduce stress and fatigue
Other benefits include reducing stress and fatigue which is also achieved by the lymphatic system revitalizing your immune system. Through this, the body is able to relax and de-stress, and your body is able to re-energies.
Health conditions that can benefit from lymphatic drainage massage
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic venous insufficiency
There are many reasons to get a massage, but for those with specific chronic health conditions, a lymphatic drainage massage may be the best type for pain management or general lymphatic system rejuvenation.
Types of lymphatic drainage massage
There are two main types of lymphatic drainage massage, Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and Simple Lymphatic Drainage (SLD). Manual lymphatic drainage massage involves a trained therapist using specialised strokes, pressure and movement to clear blockages and support the healthy flow of your lymphatic system.
Simple lymphatic drainage massage, on the other hand, can be performed by a carer or even the patient themselves. SLD involves using a simplified version of the MLD techniques, with gentler strokes and a set sequence of hand movements.
Both of these types of lymphatic drainage massage can be used to treat a number of different conditions such as Lymphedema or general lymphatic pain, but SLD is on a smaller scale as it is a more simplified treatment type.
There are four types of lymphatic drainage massage techniques commonly used by massage therapists, physical therapists, and doctors. These include.
- Vodder: Using sweeping motions around the area your therapist is aiming to treat, this is a foundational technique for a lymphatic drainage massage. Vodder can specifically target and help treat fibrosis.
- Foldi: Foldi is an extension of the vodder technique and requires the massage therapist to alternate between circular hand motions and moments of relaxation. Foldi is a great technique for the management of edema.
- Casley-Smith: This technique also involves using circular hand motions, but focuses on using the side and palms of the hands to increase pressure.
- Leduc: Using technical hand motions to collect lymph fluid, this type of movement redirects lymph fluid for proper reabsorption into the larger lymphatic system.
How often should you get a lymphatic drainage massage?
Everybody is different, which means that your massage schedule will also depend on your own body’s needs. We recommend speaking with a trained massage therapist to discuss any problems you may have, and they can suggest how often a lymphatic massage will benefit you.
As the seasons change, your body’s internal processes can change as well. If you’re feeling extra bloated, you can schedule a lymphatic massage to help with water retention. Otherwise, a good guideline is at least once a month to ensure your body gets the benefits from this relaxing massage.
Tips when getting a lymphatic massage
Want to get the most out of your next lymphatic drainage massage? Here are four of our top tips to prepare for your massage and keep the benefits flowing for as long as possible:
- Make sure to drink plenty of water before and after your treatment.
- You’ll most likely feel the effects a couple of days later, so give yourself some time to rest.
- Don’t eat a big meal beforehand, as this could make you feel ill throughout your treatment.
- Wear underwear only (or what you’re comfortable with) during your massage. Hand to skin contact helps the therapist target your lymphatic system more effectively.
Plus you can also try manual lymphatic drainage techniques in the comfort of your own home! You can use a dry brush tool (sweep upwards towards your heart), a facial tool such as gua sha to help drain fluids from your face, or use your hands as a relaxing ritual to energise you throughout the day.
Ultimately, lymphatic drainage massages are one of the best treatments for a relaxing and rejuvenating wellness session. Best of all, you can book your next session from the comfort of your home with Blys.
Our community of experienced massage therapists can now bring the benefits of lymphatic massage to you, without the hassle or headaches of travelling to a salon.