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What is lymphatic drainage?

Lymphatic drainage massage is a therapeutic deep-tissue massage treatment that uses thumb pressure and long, gentle, rhythmic strokes to increase lymphatic flow and get rid of toxins in your body.

So what is lymph?

Lymph is a clear, slightly yellow fluid that flows around your body, carrying white blood cells and antibodies to your tissues and organs. These are essential to your immune system and help you fight infection.

Day after day, we dump toxins into our bodies: we eat badly, we live in dirty cities full of pollution, we drink too much alcohol, eat too much sugar and our lifestyles are unforgiving and unhealthy. Your lymphatic system's job is to flush all the toxins away, and keep you healthy.

Lymphatic drainage massage boosts the flow of lymph around your body, refreshing your immune system and flushing out toxins.

What is lymphatic drainage good for?

Because lymph is so key to keeping your immune system working properly, improving its flow and drainage around the body is good for you in lots of ways. Lymphatic drainage massage can have a powerful effect on your general health:

  • It can help your body fight infection and speed up healing and recovery from illness
  • It is a popular and effective treatment for cellulite
  • It reduces water retention
  • It can boost weight loss
  • Manual lymphatic drainage is used in the treatment of lymphoedema

It can improve your skin texture by:

  • reducing swelling, puffiness and blotches
  • giving you clean healthy pores
  • speeding up healing in scar tissue, so it can, for example, improve the appearance of stretch marks

Before you go

As with any treatment, you will get most benefit if you give yourself time to get the benefits of it. Arrive soon enough to get ready and settle; try and avoid rushing off for an appointment straight afterwards.

It's also a good idea to give yourself plenty of time either side of the massage, so that you don't feel rushed.

Precautions

You should always tell your therapist in advance if you:

  • are, or think you might be, pregnant
  • have any medical conditions or are receiving any treatment or medication
  • have recently had an injury or operation
  • are allergic to anything, particularly skin allergies
  • have any broken skin or sores on your scalp

as this may affect the kind of treatment you receive.

Before any massage treatment, avoid large meals or alcohol. It's also a good idea to drink plenty of water, which will help your body to flush the toxins out of your body.

What to expect from lymphatic drainage massage

This massage treatment usually takes place in a heated room; warmth is an important factor in increasing lymphatic flow. You are also likely to be more relaxed if you're not cold.

Lymphatic drainage massage is usually given on a massage table, and you will be draped in discreetly-placed towels. The therapist will probably work their way up from your feet.

Lymphatic drainage massage uses deep thumb pressure as well as long, gentle, rhythmic strokes. Like shiatsu or acupressure, the pressure can feel a bit odd at first, but is also quite powerful and can really relax and relieve the muscles throughout your body as you are being massaged.

A session usually lasts about an hour.

Hot tip!

Lymphatic drainage is about flushing out your system; you can do this every day by drinking plenty of water.

Afterwards

Lymphatic drainage can leave you feeling exhausted. It is likely you'll want to have a lie down, or at the very least, a very undemanding schedule for the rest of the day. You might like to stretch yourself to a gentle swim or a sauna afterwards. Give your body time to ease back into activity.

It will also leave you really thirsty. It's quite strange the first time you experience this; even if you're not usually a water-drinker, you'll be reaching for bottles of San Pellegrino like it's free champagne.

Courtesy of the Good Spa Guide

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