Lymphatic Massage – What Is It?
Lymphatic drainage. It doesn’t sound the most indulgent of treatments but this therapeutic massage is pure detox. By gently, lightly and repetitively encouraging the flow of lymph towards the lymph glands a skilled sports massage therapist can reduce the toxins in your body, decrease water retention, improve skin health, increase your metabolic rate and boost your immune system – all by enhancing the body’s own natural processes. Not bad for a massage.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is a key component of the immune system. Lymph is a clear fluid which both delivers nutrients and, importantly, removes toxins and waste product from cells throughout the body. While there are more lymph vessels than blood vessels (almost double) – the lymph system does not have a powerful, centralised pump to keep things going. This means lymph fluid can build up, especially in the extremities, as it relies on muscle movement and pressure from blood vessels to get it where it needs to be – the lymph nodes. By manually encouraging lymph fluid to the lymph nodes, specialised massage can boost a sluggish system – eliminating excess fluid and toxins and encouraging healthy lymph flow more generally.
What are the benefits of the treatment?
Improved immune function is the reason many people opt for lymphatic massage. By strengthening immune response, or the body’s ability to fight off infection, lymphatic massage can prevent colds and other illnesses or help speed a slow recovery. Another benefit is reduced water retention – if you experience swollen feet and ankles it may be down to your lymphatic system. Sedentary work and a lack of physical activity can exacerbate this condition, causing it to worsen over time. Regular lymphatic drainage can move excess fluid away from the extremities and ease the pressure of tissue swelling. A third, and less well-known, benefit of lymphatic drainage is improved skin health. A reduction in skin puffiness and swelling is a direct result of fluid drainage, while the systemic benefits of increased lymph flow can improve scar healing rates. It can even minimise the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite is often made worse by water retention – by expelling excess fluid and increasing blood flow the skin appears healthier and smoother.
What to expect on the day
This is a massage with a very specific therapeutic aim – but – relaxing and enjoying the experience as you usually would will enhance the health benefits. Perhaps counterintuitively lymphatic drainage is a very gentle treatment – extremely light pressure is applied – so it will differ considerably to deeper tissue treatments you may have had. Typically the therapist will begin at the feet and work upwards using long, repetitive and very gentle strokes. Afterwards you may feel tired and need to rest – it’s a good idea to book lymphatic drainage later in the day so you can go home directly. You may also be very thirsty – it’s very important to drink adequate water (6-8 glasses per pay minimum) in the hours and days following treatment.