Lymphatic Massage

Lymphatic MassageCan Lymphatic Massage Help Eliminate Toxins?

Lymphatic massage is a type of physical manipulation that encourages the movement of fluids through the body’s tissues and muscles. It is intended to move toxins out of the body and stimulate the production of healthy lymph, which in turn boosts the immune system and increases energy.

Although most people link lymphatic massage with toxin release, it is also used for the traditional benefits of massage (including recovering from sports injuries or simply relaxing). In fact, almost all types of massage are “lymphatic” in some form or another, since in working with the body’s tissues, it is inevitable that fluids will be pushed through the system.

The Lymphatic System

Lymphatic massage is used primarily as a way to help the body’s natural ability to heal and to keep diseases at bay. That’s because it deals primarily with the lymphatic system, a network that carries non-blood fluids (known as lymph or interstitial fluid) through the body.

Lymph is a clear, watery fluid that moves around the body via organs, ducts, and nodes to distribute immune cells and other factors. It is vital in fighting off infection and in draining out “bad” fluids from the body, acting as a kind of cleanser that reaches almost every cell in the body.

However, unlike most other body systems, there is no central “pump” (such as the heart) that pushes the fluid around. Instead, the lymphatic system is dependent on body movements, breathing, and manual manipulation.

Sometimes, lymph can collect in one location in the body – usually in the arm or leg. Known as lymphodema, this can cause painful swelling and, if allowed to remain untreated, infection or abscess. Lymphatic massage is actually one of the few ways to safely treat this condition, especially when performed by a CMLDT (Certified Manual Lymph Drainage Therapist), who is usually a nurse or massage therapist with special training in working with the lymphatic system.

How Lymphatic Massage Works

Lymphatic massage works by using traditional massage techniques combined with light pressure and soft pumping movements toward the lymph nodes (although the lymph nodes of the neck are the most well-known, they are actually distributed all over the body). This moves the fluids out of the muscular tissue to where they can be “cleaned” and transmitted to other parts of the body.

Although almost every type of massage should be followed by drinking water to flush away the body’s toxins, it is never more important than after a lymphatic massage. Because the focus is on moving toxins around and out, water is vital to get things moving as quickly as possible.

Benefits of Lymphatic Massage

Lymphatic massage helps to keep the lymph fluids moving along in a healthy and proper fashion. It’s sort of like manually pushing water through the pipes in order to avoid the “clogs” that can eventually lead to worse problems. In fact, when done correctly, lymphatic massage can actually increase the volume of lymph flow by up to 20 times.

In most cases, lymphatic massage is used to treat disorders that are the result of a lowered immune system or lymph blockages. This means it can be performed to:

  • Prevent or treat cold and flu infections

  • Ease pain associated with arthritis or the joints

  • Treat pain associated with menstrual cramps

  • Treat pain associated with breastfeeding

  • Increase appetite

  • Boost metabolism

  • Decrease fatigue

  • Regulate moods or depression

  • Increase circulation to injury or scarred sites

  • Before surgery as a way to promote healing later on

Lymphatic massage is also related to cosmetic issues in the skin, including acne or cellulite reduction. That’s because the skin is considered a part of the larger lymphatic system, and many people swear by relying on fresh interstitial fluids to create a brighter, more healthy looking appearance.

In addition, lymphatic massage may be beneficial following Swedish massage or deep tissue massages. These massage types target reducing edemas or knots in the muscles, and lymphatic massage helps to dissolve the knots even further. Many massage therapists specialize in all of these types of massage as a way to offer comprehensive massage care.

Drawbacks of Lymphatic Massage

There are some proponents of lymphatic massage who assert that it decreases the chances of developing cancer, particularly in the breasts. While there is some discussion on the validity of this statement, most massage therapists feel that there is little harm in getting lymphatic massages regularly as a preventative treatment. However, it is not recommended for those who are currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment, since it can affect the way the body absorbs the medication. Moving the chemicals through and out of the body too quickly can negate the benefits.

It is also best to avoid lymphatic massage in clients with major heart problems or malignant tumors. In some cases, cancer is spread through the lymph nodes, and getting a lymphatic massage may actually help the disease in spreading. Individuals concerned about whether or not lymphatic massage is right for them should seek the advice of a medical professional or Certified Manual Lymph Drainage Therapist.

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