Lymphatic Drainage

Woman enjoying a relaxing back massage while lying down

Lymphatic drainage massage (also referred to as manual lymph drainage) is a specialized bodywork technique that involves the repetitive application of light pressure movements that are designed to stimulate the flow of lymph in the body. For the uninitiated, the term "lymph" refers to a mostly colorless fluid that naturally forms in the tissues of the body. This fascinating fluid carries infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies to any areas where they are needed by way of the lymphatic system, which is an intricate network of vessels and nodes that are part of the circulatory system. In many ways, the lymphatic system is the "unsung hero" of the body, as it plays a key role in helping the immune system do its job. The purpose of lymphatic drainage is to encourage a greater volume of lymph flow, which will boost immune function and remove toxins and metabolic waste from the tissues.

Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage 

  • Relieves tension and brings on feelings of deep relaxation
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Bolsters immune health for clients who suffer from sluggish immune function
  • Enhances tissue regeneration for sports injuries
  • Enhances circulation to help facilitate healthy scar formation
  • Improves the quality and appearance of the skin (especially the face)
  • Effectively treats lymphedema, a type of swelling commonly experienced after surgical removal of lymph nodes
  • Reduces breast soreness in nursing mothers, facilitating better breastfeeding

How It Works 

This treatment is typically performed on a massage table in a heated room, and the client will usually lay underneath towels or sheets. The massage therapist will apply light to moderate pressure using gentle strokes, with the neck, armpits and groin being the primary targeted areas. The strokes are generally characterized by light circular movements, but gentle pumping motions are often used as well. These various techniques are designed to accelerate lymph drainage and encourage better lymph flow. A typical session will last anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour and a half, depending upon the needs of the client, as well as the areas of the body being treated. Clients commonly report feelings of deep relaxation, sometimes even to the point of falling asleep during treatment!

Who Should Get Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Although this type of bodywork is typically viewed as a highly specialized treatment, practically anyone can benefit from lymphatic drainage massage. It can address everything from post-surgery scarring and sports injuries to chronic fatigue and weak immune function, all with equal facility. And since it is a holistic, non-invasive form of physical therapy, it holds great appeal for individuals who would rather avoid using synthetic medicines that can sometimes come with adverse side effects.

Some Precautions to Consider 

This specialized form of bodywork produces a detoxification effect in the body, so it is a good idea to drink plenty of water before and after your treatment session. This will help you flush out the toxins and metabolic waste that are released when these techniques are applied. In addition, it is generally recommended that you avoid combining full body massage with lymphatic drainage massage, as this can sometimes cause adverse reactions including headaches, nausea, dizziness, etc. To ensure the safest and most effective outcome, be sure to consult with a professional massage therapist such as myself to develop a treatment plan that will be the best fit for you.