Lymph massage or Lymphatic Massage is a gentle kind of massage. This massage serves to stimulate the lymphatic system to increase metabolism. And remove cellular waste and debris, and promote a healthy immune system. Lymphatic massage is also known as lymphatic drainage.
The body’s lymphatic system is the focus of a lymphatic massage. The lymphatic system works for the immune system by draining out waste and cellular debris and fluid. This is how the body gets rid of toxins, that cause illness, from your cells and tissues. When the lymph system becomes blocked or narrowed, fluid starts to build up, thus causing the entire body to feel tired and weak. This makes us susceptible to disease and infirmity.
By working the lymph nodes through this type of massage, any blockages occurring in the lymphatic system are removed. This in turn keeps the lymph passages free and clear so that toxins can be carried away to better your immune system.
Lymphatic massage, sometimes called manual lymphatic drainage, is a specialized type of medical massage. It can help treat lymphedema, in which lymphatic fluid collects in certain areas of the body because it cannot drain away effectively.
Lymphatic massage aims to improve the flow of lymph fluid, which should reduce swelling.
Massaging an area without swelling will make space for fluid to flow to those parts from more congested areas.
There are two types of lymphatic drainage: manual and simple.
Manual lymphatic drainage is done by a qualified therapist, whereas simple lymphatic drainage is a technique a person can use at home.
Anyone planning on learning simple lymphatic drainage should learn how to do it from a specialist. It is essential to know which area to massage and how much pressure to use.
The lymphatic system plays a key role in the body’s immune defenses.
Lymphatic fluid flows through lymph vessels, which connect lymph nodes. As it passes through the lymph nodes, white blood cells trap and destroy harmful particles, such as bacteria.
Like blood in the circulatory system, lymphatic fluid is always moving. If it stops, swelling can occur, as lymph fluid builds up, often in the arms or legs. Health experts call this lymphedema.
Lymphatic massage usually forms part of a treatment program health experts call decongestive lymphatic therapy (DLT).
DLT for lymphedema includes:
- lymphatic drainage massage
- compression garments
Together, these can improve circulation throughout the lymphatic system and help manage trusted Source symptoms of lymphedema, including:
- swelling in the extremities — such as the arms, legs, hands, or feet — which can affect mobility
- swelling in other parts of the body, including the chest, breast, shoulder, face, and groin
- pain and changes in sensation
- a feeling of heaviness
- difficulty fitting into clothing
Lymphedema can benefit people who have a buildup of lymphatic fluid due to trusted Source:
- cancer and cancer treatments that involve the removal of lymph nodes
- filariasis, which is an infestation of the lymph nodes by a parasite carried by mosquitoes
- some types of vascular surgery, such as vein stripping
- burn scar excision
- lipectomy, a type of surgery to remove fat from the body
- infection or trauma in the lymphatic system
- a buildup of fluid due to deep vein thrombosis
- health conditions that affect blood flow to the extremities, such as the hands and feet
Lymphatic buildup affects around 20%Trusted Source of females who have had treatment for breast cancer.
The authors of a 2015 review conclude that lymphatic massage might be more effective than connective tissue massage in relieving symptoms of stiffness and depression in people living with fibromyalgia.
A doctor may recommend lymphatic massage as part of a person’s treatment plan. If anyone believes they have lymphedema, they should ask a doctor about this option. They should not use lymphatic massage without consulting a doctor first.
It is of note that this type of massage may not be suitable or safe for some people, for example, if they have cellulitis or a heart condition.
Trained professionals provide lymphatic massage, but they can teach individual basic drainage techniques to use at home. A doctor or other professional can advise on safe ways to drain lymphatic fluid.
People can perform most of these exercises either standing, sitting, or lying down, as long as they are comfortable.
Keep the following tips in mind during a lymphatic massage:
- These massage movements should affect only the skin, so use gentle pressure and do not press hard enough to feel the muscles.
- Keep the hands relaxed.
- Do not massage swollen or infected areas.
- Do not massage areas of the body that have undergone treatment for cancer.
- Drink extra fluids, ideally 2–4 glasses of water, after each massage to help flush the body.
- During the massage, there should be no pain or skin reddening.
- Do not use lotions or other products, only on the hands.
How to prepare
The following methods will stimulate the lymphatic system and prepare the lymph nodes to bring in more fluid before a lymphatic massage.
1. Lymphatic breathing
Deep breathing acts like a pump that helps move fluid through the vessels and lymph nodes. Follow the steps below:
- Place both hands on the ribs.
- Take slow, deep breaths and feel the air move down to the abdomen.
- Slowly sigh the air out through the mouth.
- Rest between breaths and repeat 5 times.
2. Prepare the front of the neck
- Place the index and middle fingers of each hand on either side of the neck, just below the earlobe.
- Stretch the skin by gently sliding the fingers down toward the shoulders, then release.
- Repeat 5 times.
- Move the hands down and repeat until you have massaged the whole neck.
3. Prepare the side of the neck
- Place the palm of each hand on either side of the neck below the ears.
- Slowly move both hands down and back.
4. Prepare the back of the neck
- Place the palms of the hands on the back of the neck near the hairline.
- Gently slide the hands together down the neck toward the spine.
5. Prepare under the arms
Prepare the lymph nodes under the arms to help them accept lymph fluid from other areas of the body. Do not perform this movement on areas that doctors have treated for cancer. Follow these steps:
- Cup the palm under the armpit.
- Gently pump the palm upward and toward the body.
- Repeat on the other arm.
6. Prepare behind the knees
- Place both hands behind the knee so that the fingers point toward each other.
- Pump the back of the knee by gently pressing the hands into the back of the knee and rolling them upward.
- Repeat on the other knee.
Upper body massage techniques
Use the following techniques to help drain lymph fluid from the chest, shoulder, and upper arm.
1. To massage the chest:
- Place the palm flat on the opposite side of the chest, slightly above the breast.
- Move the hand up the chest and over the collarbone.
- Continue up the neck until the skin covering the chest feels tight, then release.
2.To massage the shoulder:
- Rest the arm on a table or armrest.
- Place the other hand on the shoulder of the resting arm.
- Move the hand over the back of the shoulder and toward the neck.
3.To massage the upper arm:
- Rest the arm on a table or armrest.
- Place the middle two fingers of the other hand on the inside of the upper arm below the shoulder.
- Gently slide the fingers toward the outside of the upper arm.
- Wrap the hand around the outside of the upper arm.
- Gently move the hand back toward the inside of the arm.
4.To massage the full arm:
- Begin at the shoulder.
- Use the palm to stretch the skin upward.
- Move the hand down to the upper arm and stretch the skin up toward the shoulder.
- Continue down the arm, always moving the skin upward.
- Stop at the wrist.
5.To massage the fingers:
- Start at the base of the swollen finger close to the palm.
- Use the index finger and thumb to stretch the skin on the finger toward the hand.
- Continue this motion over the entire finger.
- Remember to direct fluid toward the hand.
Lower body massage techniques
Start the massage at the top of the leg and work down toward the foot. Use a pillow or stool for support.
1.To massage the upper leg:
- Start at the top of the leg.
- Put one hand on the inside of the opposite thigh near the groin and place the other hand on the buttock.
- Gently stretch the skin by moving the hand on the inside of the thigh toward the outside of the thigh and up.
- Move the hands farther down the leg and repeat the stretching movement above.
- Stop above the knee.
2.To massage the lower leg:
- Start right below the knee.
- Place one hand on the shin and the other hand on the back of the calf.
- Gently stretch the skin upward.
- Continue this motion, working down toward the ankle and the top of the foot.
- Always use upward strokes.
And To massage the toes, use the thumb and index finger and stroke the skin from the tip of each toe toward the base.
It is vital to always end the massage by drinking extra fluids.
Those who use lymphatic drainage massages may notice that their swelling reduces. At the very least, swelling should not worsen.
People who have lymphedema should continue using compression socks or sleeves to prevent swelling.
Individuals with fibromyalgia might experience less stiffness and pain and also notice improvements in their overall health status.
People can also boost their lymphatic system function and help remove more waste from the body using the following methods:
- drinking plenty of water
- engaging in physical activity
- eating vegetables and fruits
- limiting their intake of processed foods
Lymph Massage or Lymphatic massage is an excellent treatment
Before this massage takes place, the therapist and client do an initial consultation to determine what his/her needs are and how many sessions will be required. The actual massage involves gentle pressure applied to the body along with pumping movements in the direction of the lymph nodes. This technique utilizes the relaxation methods of Swedish massage along with the deep digital pressure of shiatsu. A lymphatic massage therapy session can occur between thirty minutes to two hours long depending on whether the therapist is targeting only one specific part of the body or the entire body.
Lymphatic massage is an excellent therapeutic treatment by itself. It also has benefits when used in conjunction with other massage techniques such as Swedish or deep tissue massage. Since lymphatic massage uses only soft, rhythmic movements, this technique can be used on the tenderest areas of the body that are inflamed.
This form of massage is beneficial for people who get sick often or have a faulty immune system. It is great for individuals with sports injuries, emotional problems, lack of energy, or stress. Studies show that lymphatic massage has a positive effect on the skin, improves energy, and helps with respiratory problems. This treatment elevates the immune system’s ability to fight off disease and creates general feelings of vitality. This procedure helps the patient cope with different kinds of pain because it stimulates the body’s innate healing mechanisms. The key factor behind a lymphatic massage is that when our immune system is healthy, our bodies are also healthy.