Benefits of Manual Lymph Drainage Therapy

Benefits of Manual Lymph Drainage Therapy

The lymphatic system is the primary player of your immune system. It is a circulatory system that uses lymph vessels and nodes to mobilize the fluid that carries the lymphocytes (the cells responsible for fighting off infection). The lymphatic system helps to remove cell wastes, toxins, proteins, and excess fluid from the body. It is a very delicate system consisting of tiny vessels and nodes just underneath the skin.

When this system is working at its best, we feel healthy and strong. However, someone who does not get enough exercise or eats too many processed foods is more susceptible to disease and infection because the lymphatic system does not have a naturally built-in pump, like the blood system does with the heart. Body movement, stretching, and deep breathing exercises are what activate the flow of the lymph fluid.

While a regular yoga practice would be extremely beneficial for the lymphatic system, there is another option. Lymphatic drainage massage is the process of gently rubbing and compressing the nodes throughout the body to mobilize this fluid and get your system functioning normally. You can do this at home as a daily routine or look for a specialist that will perform this massage for you.

The most obvious benefit of lymph drainage massage is that it boosts the functioning of the immune system, which in turn increases your ability to fight off infections and heal faster from injury. Lymph drainage massage also helps treat lymphedema (a condition of fluid retention and swelling due to a compromised lymph system). This often happens in those who have had lymph nodes removed surgically due to cancer, but it can also happen with other traumas or damage to the body.

The lymphatic vessels and nodes are extremely delicate, so any form of compromise to the system can be detrimental to your well-being. For instance, those who have undergone surgery or major injury often have resultant swelling. The lymphatic system is usually shocked and overwhelmed with the amount of work it has to do, so swelling could continue to get worse even with deep tissue massage. A gentle massage of these vessels and nodes may be just what the body needs. It will allow the system to relax and reproduce lymphocytes at a faster rate, which will help you heal faster and reduce swelling.

Additionally, lymphatic drainage massage is a great addition to treatment plans for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia because its focuses on loosening sore trigger points. Naturally, with a higher functioning lymphatic system, patients feel healthier and more energetic.

Listed below are some of the many benefits of Manual Lymph Drainage according to The North American Vodder Association of Lymphatic Therapy(NAVALT) and the Dr. Vodder School.

  • Removes metabolic wastes, excess water, toxins, bacteria, large protein molecules and foreign substances from the tissues.
  • Alleviates pain by greatly reducing the pain signals sent to the brain.
  • Relaxes the sympathetic nervous system, thus helping to relieve stress.
  • Supports and enhances the action of the immune system.
  • Helps the body to heal more quickly from injuries, surgical trauma, chronic conditions, and edema.
  • Helps to minimize scar and fibrosis formation
  • Speed up the wound healing process

Conditions Which May Respond Well to Lymphatic Drainage:

Headaches: Some headaches can be traced to sinus issues which have a component of congestions that responds well to Lymph Drainage.  After the tissue is worked and decongested blocked fluid can move, and blood flow increases to the area reducing pain and pressure discomfort.

Post-Surgical Healing: After any surgery, cosmetic or medically based, tissue may be swollen, sore, and in a state of shock which causes more fluid to pool the area.  Lymphatic Drainage is a gentle modality which can be applied very shortly after surgery to assist in draining tissue, reducing inflammation, increasing blood flow thereby shortening healing time. After some healing has occurred in the tissue MLD can be coupled with various Massage Techniques to assist in minimizing issues from scar tissue to help achieve and end result which provides more function, movement, and less fascial restriction.

General Detoxification:  During the winter months or periods of high stress Manual Lymph Drainage can help jump start you into a path of more activity and better self-care by providing an assist to help the body rid itself of stagnation caused by lack of movement and increased stress hormones. There are even techniques in the Chicly method of MLD which can help resist the tissues impact from stress.

Tendonitis:  Carpal Tunnel, Golfers Elbow, Rotator Cuff Inflammation, Tennis Elbow, Hip Bursitis, and many other tendons related inflammatory conditions can be dramatically assisted by incorporating MLD to a Massage Therapy Session. Providing movement in the waste system before massaging can prevent dumping stagnant waste build up in our muscles from entering an already overtaxed lymphatic system. By first cleaning out the main system, your session can lead to less soreness post massage, and a quicker recovery time from your issue.

Pregnancy:  At every stage of pregnancy to the moment one becomes pregnant to many months postpartum a woman’s body has almost 50 percent more blood and fluid volume than when not pregnant. Swelling especially in the legs and feet can cause pain, pressure, and MLD can help to minimize the effects on the body. Breast feeding can have its own set of issues with duct blockages, soreness, and inflammation where Lymph techniques can be of huge benefit. At UTB we also have Therapists who hold an additional endorsement in WA State to do Breast Massage. See “Services” above to learn more about different conditions helped by Breast Massage at our clinic.

Pre Surgical Prep:  Surgery causes strain on the body, from the anesthesia, to tissue disruption and introduction to excess fluids into tissues, Manual Lymphatic Drainage can be a vital tool in helping to prepare the body for the best possible outcome post-surgery, as well as the gentle technique can be of benefit by soothing the nervous system before the surgery date as well.

General Pain Relief: MLD stimulates parasympathetic response engaging vital functions of the skin, tissues, and internal organs. Pain relief can be achieved by blocking pain signals by stimulating a parasympathetic response. This modality is so relaxing you may also fall asleep!

Edema: Fluid retention in the body that cannot be removed effectively by our Lymphatic system for various reasons is called Edema. Edema can be caused by simple inactivity, air travel, or medical conditions like Congestive Heart Failure, Arthritic Conditions, Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue, Pregnancy, Cancer treatments and various Autoimmune Conditions.  MLD is an ideal modality to really assist the body by helping to support and clear stagnation which may be adding to strain on various systems already weakened by decreased ability to function. There are some contraindications however, if you suffer with kidney or heart conditions email Anne below to make sure that MLD would be indicated for your condition. If you are seeking Lymph care for Cancer related symptoms UTB does require a prescription from your overseeing Dr.  You may receive MLD during chemo or radiation with Dr. note.

Cosmetic Reasons: Inflammatory complexion issues like acne, or fine lines and wrinkles, puffiness around the eyes, and even old scarring can be reduced with MLD specifically for the face.