Lymphatic Drainage Massage
What is my lymphatic fluid and what does it do?:
-It is composed of 96% water; the rest is proteins (10-60 grams/liter), hormones,
macrophages and dead cells.
-It disperses lymphocytes/white blood cells into the blood stream, distributes
many hormones, and flushes out multiple toxins (such as food preservatives, food
colorants, chemical toxins, hormone waste, and lactic acid).
-It also plays a role in regulating fluid pressure in blood vessels and cells. This is key
because when lymphatic pressure is off it causes puffiness, swelling, and
-It has its own slow pulse (about 6 counts per beat or wave) and it has a healthy
direction of flow which is specific in every area of the body.
When might in need lymphatic drainage massage?:
-If you notice your skin is tight and sensitive to the touch. Some people describe
feeling as if their skin is burning or nervy. Others describe feeling like portions of
their body feel “full”.
-When muscle soreness just isn’t going away even after four to five days following
a hard work-out or other strenuous muscle use. Lymphatic flow can be
interrupted by repetitive motion (especially if the muscle doesn’t go through full
extension and contraction), muscle trauma (tripping, falling or having a muscle
jerked for some other reason), and/or if a muscle has been in the same
contracted position for an extended period of time.
-LDM is also helpful for regulating menstrual cycles (remember hormone
dispersement), improving quality of sleep, and recovering from surgery- both
flushing anesthesia and later minimizing scarring. So if you are dealing with any
of these life circumstances lymphatic drainage massage might be for you!
When shouldn’t I get lymphatic drainage massage?: When you are dealing
with an infection, fever, blood clots or an entire swollen limb (this is full-blown
lymphedema and requires more specialized medical treatment).
Something to keep in mind: If you think you might be catching a cold LDM will
likely intensify symptoms and bring the cold on faster; however if you already
have a cold while LDM will still intensify symptoms it can also help you get over a
cold faster (because it increases dispersement of white blood cells and flushes all
What will I experience during a lymphatic drainage massage?:
Seventy percent of lymphatic fluid is superficial, meaning it lies between the
muscles and the skin, so lymphatic drainage massage requires a light touch and
is slow-paced due to the slow pulse of lymphatic flow. Your massage therapist
will be sensing for the direction of your lymphatic flow and engaging to increase
it if it is sluggish, or redirect it if it is off-course (like how you swim with the flow of
a current rather than against it if you want to get out of it). Often, when
incorporated into massage, LDM can be the key to helping a knotted muscle
release and lose any sharp sensitivity to pressure.
LDM can be incorporated into your massage or can be done as an exclusive
treatment. Due to the slow pace, not every area of your body will usually be
worked directly in a treatment that is exclusively lymphatic drainage massage.
LDM can be very relaxing and many people fall asleep during treatment. Some
people feel much more tired after treatment; others have a burst of energy. It all
depends on what your body disperses or flushes through the treatment.
Are there things I can do to support healthy lymphatic flow on my own?
-Drinking plenty of water and getting enough electrolytes (add lemon or lime
juice to your water).
-Submerge yourself in water (the buoyancy of water can allow lymphatic pressure
to equalize) whether that means swimming or soaking in a hot bath.
-Exercise can increase deep lymph flow (the 30% that isn’t superficial) by up to
15%. The more fluid the exercise the better (walking/swimming/dancing vs
jogging or jump training.) Jumping on a trampoline is particularly good for your
lymphatic system- the inertia at the bottom of the jumps affects the superficial