What is Lymphatic Drainage?
Lymphatic drainage must not be confused with traditional massage as its functions and principles are totally different.
Unlike other massage techniques, Lymphatic Drainage requires only a very light touch. This is because the lymph is in the body’s connective tissue – not in the muscle. As such, Lymphatic Drainage is a very gentle and relaxing, non-intrusive massage.
The technique improves lymph flow through direct action on the lymph vessels and stimulates drainage from the connective tissue.
But, why move lymph?
When we speak of lymphatic drainage we are talking about the removal of fluid from the soft, connective tissues – thin membranes that separate our bodies cells. Our blood brings oxygen and nutrients to this connective tissue and the cells then absorb what they need. In return, the cells expel waste products into the connective tissue, which is then carried away by lymph.
The lymphatic system is adversely affected by such everyday factors such as stress, chemical overload and illness. These factors can cause the systems functions to deteriorate and generally slow down. This means that the lymph transportation becomes sluggish and the flow into the lymph nodes is impeded. This results in the system’s waste removal process becoming less effective, creating a stagnant situation leading to potential health problems. Lymphatic Drainage can overcome this.
There can also be a build up of protein in the connective tissue. Excess protein, like excess waste products, will thicken tissue fibres and significantly retard the uptake of nutrients and removal of waste.
Lymphatic drainage techniques assist the activities within the lymph nodes as well as assisting the passage of lymph through the nodes.
Lymphatic Drainage works on the body in four ways:
- It elicits relaxation reflexes through working positively on the autonomous nervous system.
- Movement of the lymph prevents and breaks down lymphostasis, preventing a build up of institial fluid in the tissue. The lymph carries immunoglobulins – antibodies that help fight infection and disease – around the body. Impeding the free movement of lymph around the body can reduce our ability to stay healthy.
- Lymphatic drainage stimulates the nerves and muscles that control the lymph vessels themselves.
- The technique promotes the elimination of cellular waste.
Another advantage of this technique is that it can be used to relax the muscles before the client returns to have a remedial massage.
What are the benefits and who can enjoy them ?
The answer is everyone. The application of Lymphatic Drainage range from cosmetic use, sports injuries, migraines and lymphoedemas to that of helping alleviate the suffering associated with sinus, arthritis, whiplash and fluid retention. In particular it is useful for those who need to:
- Reduce scarring, especially after an operation
- Stimulate their lymphatic systems
- Find relief from Lymphoedemas
- Overcome sports injuries
- Get help for migraines, M.S., headaches, strokes and trigeminal neuralgia
- Ease the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism
- Improve post-surgical swelling and prepare for surgery
- Reduce discomfort from skin disorders
- Ease constipation, sinusitis, P.M.S
- Ameliorate the effects of H.I.V and Aids
Lymphatic Drainage is particularly effective before and after a medical operation. Pre-operatively, two or three treatments will cleanse and purify the lymphatic vessels in preparation for the operation. Within a day or two of the operation Lymphatic Drainage can be used to greatly assist in easing pain and discomfort as well as assisting in the reduction of bruising and swelling. The gentle effect of Lymphatic Drainage on the nervous system will also aid in speeding the healing and recovery time of the person.
The technique is also extremely beneficial for numerous other skin conditions, such as acne, allergy-prone skins, sallow complexions, scars and aging skin as well as any condition which oedema occurs. These can include poor liver or kidney functions, diabetes, arthritic conditions and cellulite.
As previously mentioned this is a very different type of massage. However, it is certainly one of the most beneficial and if you have not had a Lymphatic Drainage in the past you should definitely seek one out.