Most see a massage as something indulgent, good for pampering, good for sore muscles and great for much needed relaxation. Certain types of massages, like lymphatic drainage, however, claim to provide even deeper health benefits.
A quick biology Recap
The lymphatic system is the body’s waste disposal system, aiding in immunity and fighting infections. Lymph transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, collecting toxins and waste on the way that are flushed out through the lymph nodes. Technically lymph nodes are the body’s biological filtration system, so they filter the lymphatic fluids to get rid of bacteria and toxins. Unlike blood, which is pumped around the body by your heart, lymph vessels have no pump and they rely on the pressure from your blood vessels and movement from your muscles to push the lymphatic fluid around. The main lymph nodes are in the neck, armpits and groin.
Lymphatic Drainage Massages
The idea is that a lymphatic drainage massage applies pressure to areas around your lymph nodes and speeds up the process of filtration. Because lymph is key to keeping your immune system working properly, improving the flow and drainage of lymph around the body is beneficial in many ways. A masseuse will use light pressure and long, rhythmic strokes to increase the flow of lymph and reduce toxins in your body.
Lymphatic drainage massage can be used to treat a wide range of medical and non-medical conditions to great effect, such as:
• Healing after surgery: When cancer patients have surgery, undergo radiation treatments, or experience infections, it can mess with the structure of the lymph system - according to the American Cancer Society. 1 If the lymphatic system is not doing its job properly, it can lead to a build-up of lymph, called Lymphedema. It is uncomfortable and causes pain and heaviness in the affected area. To move waste fluids away from the damaged area, lymphatic massage is a procedure recommended by doctors and physical therapists.
• It also regenerates tissues to reduce scarring at surgical incision sites, reduces swelling and detoxifies the body. 2.
• Lymphatic drainage massages improve the function of the immune system. It can increase the production of antibodies that help your body fight off infection and reduce the chance of catching minor colds and viruses. It can also reduce inflammation which is the cause of many diseases, including arthritis. 3.
• As the lymph system has no pump, if you sit for a long time the lymph moves sluggishly - this is why you may experience swollen feet or fingers during and after a long flight - a lymphatic drainage massage will reduce water retention.
• By improving your lymphatic system, your metabolic rate will improve, resulting in weight loss as you’ll burn calories more efficiently.
• Reduces cellulite by increasing blood flow and circulation to the affected areas, which help the body break down the toxins which cause the dimply, orange peel skin.
• Speeds up healing in scar tissue so it could improve the appearance of stretch marks.
• Increases your energy while decreasing stress, lifting brain fog and supporting your digestive health. 4.
• It reduces any swelling and puffiness, also keeping pores clean and healthy. It helps rejuvenate collagen fibres and slows the ageing process. It literally recharges your skin from the inside out. Results are pretty much instant, making it a perfect beauty boost. 5. Although not the sexiest sounding beauty treatment, models have been known to have lymphatic drainage massage before a photoshoot or big event.
Maintaining a healthy system
The best way to keep your lymphatic system healthy is to be active. Even the most gentle activity will encourage a healthy lymph flow. Swimming is a particularly good exercise because the gentle pressure of the water simulates the gentle strokes of a massage. Body brushing, is also a great low-maintenance way to keep your lymph moving on a daily basis.