• Jeanine Mewburn

Lymphatic Drainage Massage - What you need to know

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

Contrary to what some people believe, Lymphatic Drainage Massage (LDM) is a light massage. Lymph fluid movement starts right below the surface of the skin, although it is said that the fluid can also be absorbed via lymph nodes. It moves deeper in the tissue from vessel to bigger vessel to eventually return to the heart. Should you apply gentle pressure on the skin of your forearm with the finger tips and release the pressure without breaking the contact and move the skin back and forth, you can feel the skin gliding over a viscous surface. This is the network of superficial lymphatic capillaries (little lymph vessels) from which the lymphatic fluid is absorbed. This is why only gentle hand stokes are used during lymphatic drainage massage to manually increase the intake of fluid by the superficial lymphatic vessels. A LDM stimulates the opening of the initial lymphatics and increases the volume of lymph flow by as much as 20 times, and increases the pumping of the deep lymphatic vessels.

The hand pressure can vary during LDM. Some people naturally carry more fluid than others, have more lymphatics than others, and some people's muscle tissue may be tighter than others. When swelling occurs in tight muscles, usually the skin is taught and does not ripple easily. Therefore, my hand movements may be slower, lighter and the strokes shorter. People with a sluggish metabolism usually have a sluggish lymphatic system. They often feel tired and sometimes unhealthy and often experience fluid retention. My hand pressure may slightly differ and the strokes may be broader.

Manual LDM offers benefits ranging from immediate to long term. It can remove excess fluid, stimulate the immune system and can help guard against illness. You may have heard the expression: “I am coming down with something because my glands are up”. This means that the lymph nodes are engorged and working hard to process virus and bacteria trapped in their structure. Lymph nodes are packed with immune cells and they represent the filtering stations of the body. LDM can help active people with recovery after a bout of exercise because it assists with the removal of excess fluid in the tissue. It can assist people with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and general fatigue. It reduces swelling and bruising resulting from post-surgery or radiation and promotes recovery after liposuction, face lift or breast cosmetic procedure and helps reduce scarring. It assists the recovery after illness or surgery. And of course, LDM is ideal for the management of lymphoedema and venous oedema along with exercise and wearing of compression garments.

Now that we are on the subject of lymphoedema, this protocol of treatment is called Complex Lymphatic Therapy (CLT). It includes exercise to help restore strength and flexibly and improve drainage, lymphatic drainage massage and bandaging to remove fluid from the tissue and reduce the limb size. and the wearing of compression garments to maintain fluid reduction. This is extremely important after an intensive treatment of bandaging to avoid fluid to refill the tissue. Another beneficial part of CLT which I should mention includes a balanced diet and a good skin care routine.

Feel good, feel healthy, don’t worry and be happy! With family, a wonderful circle of friends and lymphoedema under control, this is what life is about!

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