The lymphatic system comprises of a complex network of nodes, vessels, and organs (including the spleen, tonsils, and thymus) that work cohesively as part of the body’s immune system. It is the purpose of the lymphatic system to deliver lymph fluid (high in white blood cells that fight infections) throughout the body while taking away cellular waste and excess fluid in exchange.
This delivery and exchange method is not done via the circulatory system like how oxygen is circulated but rather conducted through muscle contractions. These contractions enable the lymph fluid to travel from lymph node to lymph vessel and then to organs that comprise the lymphatic system to process the waste from the body.
With this biological understanding of how the lymphatic system works and growing knowledge in the scientific community about the importance the lymphatic system plays in the body’s health and recovery, we have studied the manual massage techniques meant to stimulate the musculature associated with the lymphatic system’s process.
These massage techniques, known as a Lymphatic Massage or Manual Lymphatic Drainage are designed to promote the delivery and exchange conducted by the lymphatic system.
The methods implemented during a lymphatic drainage massage help to stretch the skin for an increased flow of lymph fluid while stimulating the muscles to allow for the transfer of lymph fluid through the body to encourage the collection and processing of waste and excess fluid out of the body. This also allows for more infection fighting white blood cells to be distributed through the body, encouraging wellness.
Many individuals who suffer from inflammation, edema, lymphedema, and other illnesses seek massage therapists to conduct a lymphatic massage. By stimulating the body’s lymphatic system to process through the body more efficiently, the body is more effectively purged of cellular waste and excess fluid, while having their immune system stimulated through the enhanced delivery of white blood cells to areas that need it—like swollen or inflamed muscles and joints.
More simply put, a lymphatic massage can help:
Like other types of massages, lymphatic massages are not intended for all clients. Some health conditions may not benefit from a lymphatic massage (like those with deep vein thrombosis). In addition, individuals who are in post-surgery recovery may also not be ideal candidates for manual lymphatic drainage. It is important to first discuss your desire for a lymphatic massage with your physician or other qualified medical professional before seeking this massage technique. You should also be open about any medical or health condition you have with your massage therapist to ensure the manual techniques used will not cause you discomfort.