Is Massage Good for Lymphatic Drainage? Benefits & How It Works

Is Massage Good for Lymphatic Drainage? Benefits & How It Works

Alicia Schultz Alicia Schultz
6 minute read

Your lymphatic system is vital to your body’s well-being. But if you’ve ever had certain surgeries or illnesses, you’ve likely experienced first-hand how some things can disrupt its flow. Whether you’re dealing with a medical condition or just feeling puffy and swollen, you might be wondering: Is massage good for lymphatic drainage? And if so, what are the best ways to try it?

In this post, find everything you need to know about massage for lymphatic drainage, including how it works and the science so far.

What Does Your Lymphatic System Do?

Your lymphatic network is made of nodes, vessels, a handful of organs, and a fluid known as lymph. These elements all work as a team to help your body maintain health, balance fluids, and flush out toxins. They also play a key role in your immune system, helping your body fight invading bacteria and viruses while watching out for malignant cells.

Sometimes, your lymphatic system can get backed up due to injury, illness, or disease. Fortunately, some manual techniques have the potential to help with ailments like these.

Is Massage Good for Lymphatic Drainage? 

Research has shown that specific types of gentle massage may promote healthy lymphatic flow. And while many kinds of massage can boost your well-being, the most common type for lymphatic health is called lymphatic drainage massage.

But what exactly is a lymphatic drainage massage?

For starters, it’s important to know that this massage doesn’t use the same deep pressure that you’d expect with a traditional massage. Instead, it uses only very light pressure to manipulate the vessels under the skin. Practitioners will focus on specific locations while using certain rhythms and motions to support your body’s natural processes. 

If you’re wondering what lymphatic massage can do, here are a few potential benefits:

May Help with Lymphedema

Lymphedema refers to the build-up of lymph fluid, which commonly manifests after surgeries or specific illnesses. It usually happens in the arms and legs, but it can show up in many other parts of the body. Remarkably, research shows that lymphatic massage may ease some of the swelling that comes with it.

According to one systematic review from 2021, manual lymphatic drainage massage may reduce swelling in mild cases of lymphedema. Additionally, a 2015 review found that lymphatic drainage with compression may offer extra swelling-reducing benefits after breast cancer treatment.

Other Potential Benefits

Aside from lymphedema, many people report positive effects of massage for lymphatic drainage. Because it supports your body’s cleansing system, it may also:

  • Help you feel lighter and more invigorated
  • Promote healthy recovery after exercise
  • Help you unwind and let go of stress
  • Promote healthy digestion

How to Try Massage for Lymphatic Drainage

If you want to try a lymphatic drainage massage, your best bet is to visit a trained professional. This person will be able to use industry-standard, hands-on techniques to improve your lymph flow, all while taking into account your unique body and health concerns.

But if you want to support your well-being at home, you’re not alone. Here’s what you should know about self-massage for lymphatic drainage:

What to Keep In Mind Before Starting

Before you try lymphatic drainage massage, remember to:

  • Talk to a doctor if you have any lymphatic massage contraindications. These include (but aren’t limited to) infections, kidney issues, blood clotting disorders, and uncontrolled high blood pressure. If you aren’t sure about something, your physician is the best person to help you find the answers you’re looking for.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after your massage. Staying hydrated is vital for the healthy functioning of your lymphatic system, especially if you’re stimulating it through touch.
  • Avoid any techniques that hurt. This type of massage uses very light pressure, so it should always feel soothing and pain-free.

Self-Massage for Lymphatic Drainage 

Before starting, keep in mind that a delicate, light touch is key. After all, you’re only trying to move the fluid that’s just underneath the skin — and you won’t need to go in too deep to achieve that. Some therapists even say that the pressure should be similar to a coin gliding across your skin.

With all of this in mind, here are some tips for a quick, at-home lymphatic massage:

  • Start by gently sweeping your hands across the area just above the collarbones. Use rhythmic, slow pressure, and repeat this motion five to ten times.
  • Then, use the palm of your hands to massage the front underneath area of your armpits, gliding the skin up and towards your center. Repeat for another five to ten motions.
  • Finish by taking some time to sweep from your neck down towards the center of your body. 

This massage should take you just a few minutes to complete. For a more detailed guide, be sure to check out this demonstration by a licensed physical therapist.

Can Massage Tools Help with Lymphatic Drainage?

Many massage tools can help you improve blood flow and relax your muscles. And theoretically, some could promote a healthy flow of the lymphatic system. However, there haven’t been many studies on massage tools and lymphatic drainage so far.

Nevertheless, tools like the MedMassager MMB05 can make a world of difference in your well-being, especially when used between regular visits to your masseuse. That’s because they can help you reap the restorative benefits of massage every day — and not only at your weekly or monthly appointments.

The Bottom Line

So, is massage good for lymphatic drainage? 

So far, the science has shown promise for a type of massage known as lymphatic drainage massage. As opposed to Swedish or deep tissue, this massage uses feathery-light techniques to boost the flow of the lymph vessels just under the skin.

Before trying a lymphatic drainage massage, be sure to ask a physician if it’s right for you. Once you’ve got the go-ahead, you can work with a licensed massage professional or physical therapist. Beyond that, you can support your whole-body wellness by keeping up with a soothing massage routine at home. 

For restorative body massage each and every day, check out the MedMassager MMB05 today.

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