– Lymphatic Drainage Massage –

– Because none of us are strangers to feeling puffy once in a while –

Sometimes we notice puffiness after a deep tissue massage or hot stone massage.
Sometimes we notice puffiness after a an injury or illness.
And sometimes we just wake up feeling puffy.
It happens.

Is there anything to be done about it?
Yes, there is!
Lymphatic Drainage Massage.

lymphatic drainage massage

What is Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Lymphatic Drainage Massage (LDM) is a therapeutic massage technique that uses very light pressure with gentle, rhythmic strokes
to increase the flow and efficiency of the lymphatic system.

What is the Lymphatic System?

I’m glad you asked!  Encyclopedia Britannica gives a lovely
overview of  what the lymphatic system is and does.
I have summarized it below, but the full article can be found here

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and organs
responsible for two things:

1. Helping to filter waste and maintain a balanced level of fluids in the body.
The lymphatic system collects excess fluid lingering in the body.
That fluid is then filtered for debris and pathogens, and re-deposited back into the blood stream.

2. Regulating and distributing immune cells (lymphocytes) around the body.
This helps defend the body against infection because lymphocytes fight foreign pathogens. (Germs)

How does the Lymphatic System work?
First, let’s understand why we need it to work.

Our cells are full of water, as are the spaces between them.  That water in the space between cells is called interstitial fluid, and it acts as a kind of buffer zone. As blood circulates around the body, fresh water and nutrients diffuse into the interstitial fluid. where they are absorbed by the cells.

This process also works in reverse. When cells have waste products to get rid of, they purge them into the interstitial fluid where it gets picked up and dealt with.
(Waste is normal, but it’s thought of as waste for a reason – our cells can’t use it anymore so our body needs to purge it.)
The lymphatic system is responsible for picking up that “wastewater” and carrying it away, leaving room for the cycle to start over with fresh fluid and nutrients.

Once the waste/fluid has been picked up by the lymphatic system, it is called “lymph.”
Lymph is transported to special nodes around the body responsible for filtering lymph. When we’re healthy, this process is a automatic chore that our body performs with ease. As our lymphatic system easily maintains a good fluid balance throughout the body
and keeps bacteria/viruses/pathogens at bay.

 Once filtered and cleaned of debris, lymph is reintegrated into the blood stream, and the cycle starts all over again.

And what happens when things aren’t “optimal”?

But when the lymphatic system is compromised or sluggish, such as when we’re sick or have sustained an injury, our lymph is thick with debris which forces the lymph nodes to work harder. If over worked, fluid may begin to pool in the tissues at a faster rate than the lymphatic system can remove it. When this happens ,the body gets a bit puffy and may be more susceptible to illness.

You might be familiar with the lymph nodes near your armpits or on the sides of your neck getting tender when you come down with a cold, yeah?
Surgery, scar tissue, medications, and autoimmune disease can all also impact lymphatic function and lead to puffiness. When this puffiness is left unchecked and starts to cause real problems, it is referred to as Lymph Edema.

lymphatic drainage massage

 Lymphatic Drainage Massage helps keep the lymphatic system operating quickly and efficiently.

The lymphatic system does not have its own pump.
The cardiovascular system is powered by the heart, right? The lymphatic system doesn’t have anything like that.
This means that the flow of lymph through the body relies on pressure differentials created within the tissues. (Think movement.)
As we move around and stretch our bodies throughout the day, we cause varying pressures and pulls on our tissues.
That push and pull effect is what ultimately enables our lymphatic system to pick things up and  move them out.

Alternatively, as we sit at our desk all day, we are not doing our lymphatic system any favors.
As a result, the lymphatic system does not work nearly as efficiently. (Ever notice your ankles get puffy at the end of a long day at your desk? Bingo)
The specialized strokes and patterns used in an LDM appointment create a suctioning effect similar to what we get with organic movement and exercise,
and therefore encourage the lymphatic system to work faster.

Which means LDM can help with puffiness and may boost immune function.

The benefits attributed to LDM are vast and varied.
They typically involve a reduction in swelling and water retention,
and a moderate increase in circulating lymphocytes (which fight disease). 

LDM has long been used to fight lymph edema after surgeries or injuries.
For example, it is not uncommon to remove lymph nodes when women undergo a breast cancer-related mastectomy.
With fewer lymph nodes in the area, and a new abundance of scar tissue, lymphatic function in that area will be a sluggish.
This leads to an increased risk of lymph edema in the arms and hands, as well as a bit of puffiness in the face.
LDM can help keep things moving so that doesn’t happen.

LDM has shown promising effects on puffiness and swelling in the face even for people with healthy lymphatic function.
As a result, it is a popular treatment for someone who wants to tone up before a big event.

LDM has also shown promising effects on the appearance of cellulite when combined with deep tissue and fascial techniques.
As a result, it is a popular treatment for someone with an upcoming beach holiday.
**No massage technique will truly result in the loss of fat from any area.
Treatments targeted at cellulite are designed to break up adhesions, encourage fresh blood flow, and diminish
water retention in the area – effectively smoothing the tissue and diminishing the puckered appearance of cellulite.**

Note that LDM is meant to encourage your body’s natural ability to filter and protect, not to replace it.
Responses to LDM will vary depending on many things,
including your current lymphatic function, activity levels, nutrition, hydration,
injury and surgery history, and cancer/chemotherapy history, so be sure to discuss your lifestyle and health history with your LDM therapist .

What should I expect after an LDM session?

As LDM is encouraging your body to filter debris, your body may feel a bit sluggish after an LDM session,
especially if you don’t receive frequent bodywork, because your lymph nodes are working overtime to process everything.
This will pass. If you do feel sluggish, honor what your body is telling you, and take it easy for the rest of the day.

When it comes to prolonging the effects of the LDM session, there are a few common and simple suggestions.
First and foremost, Get Moving!
The lymphatic system does not have its own pump: the flow of lymph through the body
relies on pressure differentials created within the tissues (which is why massage can impact it).
The best way to stimulate it on your own is to Move.
Muscular contractions stimulate lymphatic flow. It’s as simple as that.

Other ways to encourage lymphatic flow at home is to drink enough water,
consider lowering your salt intake, and analyze your daily posture.
Poor posture can block lymphatic pathways, and slow flow in that area.

Now that you know what LDM is, and what it can do for you,
Book An Appointment

To learn more about what we offer here at Summit, read our other blog posts,
follow us on Instagram, or subscribe to our newsletter below!