Lymphatic massage is becoming increasingly popular, but is it right for you?
Lymphatic massage isn’t necessarily a new offering in the world of medicine, but it’s certainly catching steam as holistic approaches to ailments and conditions are suddenly becoming the preferred, and even mainstream, way of treatment. This massage technique gently releases lymph, a fluid carrying excess toxins in your body, from often-swollen areas like feet and ankles and allows the body to let go of them. According to Dr. Carey Presant, author of Surviving American Medicine, and a physician at Wilshire Oncology Medical Group in Los Angeles, “This technique has helped some of my patients with symptomatic extremities after cancer surgery or radiation by reducing swelling, pain, skin tightness, and even anxiety. If your physician does not know about lymphatic drainage, ask for a second opinion with physical therapy at a cancer center, but inquire first if they have a licensed massage therapist on staff.”
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Lymphatic drainage is also a commonly employed method of treating sinusitis, frequent colds, post-pregnancy swelling, and weakened immune systems. Often holistic medicine practitioners will suggest frequent lymphatic drainage during high risk times and seasons to help lessen one’s chances of falling victim to germ-infested airplane trips, over-crowded movie theaters, etc. Exhale Spa’s National Spa Director, Laura Benge, says “a lymphatic massage can kick-start your body’s natural cleansing processes, helping to start your year off right by incorporating relaxation and detoxification. When lymphatic drainage is a focused part of the massage, it encourages circulation and fluid flow to the connective tissues.” Exhale offers a flow massage in all their locations that focuses on just this. Regular lymphatic massage is said to improve overall circulation, resulting in brighter skin, less cellulite (that alone seems worth it, right?), and even less sick days — so the benefits are definitely not limited to those with ailments. It’s a treatment worth trying even for those with purely vain motives.
If you’re unable to have a physician or licensed massage therapist help you with lymphatic drainage, you can try some of the simpler techniques at home. One of the easiest ways to get your lymph flowing is with a regular yoga practice. Moves like downward dog encourage full-body stretching and lots of fluid flow throughout the body. The act of stretching for a minimum of 20-30 minutes a day has a big effect on the movement and drainage of lymph.
If you’re generally healthy, you can also try draining the area around your ears by watching a massage therapy DIY video, like this one by Heather Wibbels, LMT.
Whatever method you try, be sure to speak to your doctor before adding it to your health routine.