Lymphatic Drainage Techniques

The Lymph System
Most people are familiar with the body's vessel system that carries blood to and from the tissues, but there is another equally vital system of vessels that removes cell wastes, proteins, excess fluid, viruses, and bacteria. The lymph system picks up fluids and waste products from the spaces between the cells and then filters and cleans them.

Like the roots of a tree, the lymph system starts as tiny vessels--only a single-cell wide--that eventually branch into larger and larger tubes that carry these fluids back to the blood stream. This network of delicate vessels and lymph nodes is the primary structure of the immune system. The lymph nodes act as check points along the pathways of the vessels. They filter the fluid (called lymph) and serve as the home for lymphocytes--little Pac Man-like cells that attack and destroy foreign bacteria and viruses and even abnormal cells, such as cancer cells.

When the lymph system is working well, we feel healthy and have a strong defense against illness. When it's sluggish or blocked (after surgery or an injury) we may experience swelling, feel tired, and be more susceptible to colds and infections.

Lymphatic Massage
A customized form of bodywork, lymphatic massage may help the lymph system do its job better. By understanding the anatomy and function of this delicate system, a massage therapist can assist your body in clearing sluggish tissues of waste and swelling. 

Though lymph vessels are found throughout the body, most of them--about 70 percent--are located just below the skin. These fragile vessels work to pick up fluids between the cell spaces when gentle pressure is applied to them from increased fluid build-up, muscle contractions, or the pressure of a therapist's hands. By using very light pressures in a rhythmic, circular motion, a massage therapist can stimulate the lymph system to work more efficiently and help it move the lymph fluids back to the heart.

Furthermore, by freeing vessel pathways, lymphatic massage can help retrain the lymph system to work better for more long-term health benefits.

Massage therapists versed in lymphatic drainage therapy, an advanced form of lymphatic massage, can identify the rhythm, direction, and quality of the lymphatic flow and remap drainage pathways. 

Who Should Get It?
Lymph massage can benefit just about everyone. If you're feeling tired and low on energy, or if you've been sick and feeling like your body is fighting to get back on track, lymph massage would likely serve you well. 

In addition, athletes, surgical patients, fibromyaliga and chronic fatigue sufferers, as well as those wanting a fresh look may want to consider lymphatic massage. 

So, if you're feeling a bit sluggish, experiencing mild to moderate swelling, recovering from a sports injury, or interested in optimizing your lymph system for stronger immunity, ask your massage therapist about lymphatic massage. It can have a powerful impact on your body's ability to heal.  
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I have not yet received specific training in this modality. I am happy to help with a general application of these techniques. However, I hope you will see that there is an incredible amount of good that you can begin to provide for youself! These links are meant to help you learn a self-applied Lymphatic Drainage massage.
I hope that they serve you well. There is a chart of the Lymphatic System here.

Lymphatic Drainage specifically for your head. Start Here!

Lymphatic Drainage of the abdomen

Lymphatic Application for your legs - unless there is bruising. You don't want to dislodge a clot.

Lymphatic Drainage directions for your arms

Reference Chart