Your guide to lymphatic drainage

Your guide to lymphatic drainage

If you’ve ever felt like you need to give your body some extra TLC to get rid of puffiness or swelling, then a lymphatic massage could be just what you’ve been looking for. The latest beauty trend is taking the world by storm, but it’s actually nothing new! The methods have been used for centuries by medical professionals and massage therapists. Still, the techniques are now making their way into people’s at-home self-care practices.  

We’re going to share everything you need to know about what your lymphatic system does, why it needs to be massaged, and how you can incorporate massage into your routine. 

What is your lymphatic system, and why does it need to be massaged?

The lymphatic system forms part of your immune system and is present in most parts of your body. The Cleveland Clinic explains: “The lymphatic system is a network of tissues, vessels, and organs that work together to move a colorless, watery fluid called lymph back into your circulatory system (your bloodstream).” A healthy lymphatic system relies on you being well hydrated and avoiding exposure to harmful toxins, which can put stress on the system.

Sometimes lymphatic fluid, the fluid that moves through the lymphatic system, can become stagnant, which leads to inflammation. Massage can help release fluid from tissue and encourage it toward your lymph nodes. 

Is lymphatic drainage good for you?

Research on the benefits of lymphatic drainage is still limited. Still, massage therapists believe the method is helpful in reducing fluid build-up and swelling. The technique has been used for hundreds of years, but the results are difficult to measure objectively. The goal of the massage is to help your body detox, so as well as massaging, you’re going to want to make sure you’re drinking lots of water to help your body flush out any nasties. 

Whenever you’re massaging yourself, remember to start gently and apply more pressure as and when you’re comfortable. Use a body oil or moisturizer to help keep the massage smooth, and prevent yourself from catching your skin with your fingers or any tools you might be using.

How do I know if I need lymphatic drainage?

Lymphatic massage is trending because it can help reduce puffiness, bloating, and generally make you feel more healthy. But there are lots of symptoms that can actually be associated with lymphatic issues, according to Healthline. These include:

  • Swelling in your arms or legs
  • Skin changes, including blisters
  • Congestion
  • Food sensitivities
  • Bloating
  • Low mood
  • Aches and pains

It’s important to remember many other conditions can also cause these symptoms, so always consult a physician when needed.

How do I drain my lymphatic system myself?

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to gather your supplies together. To perform a good lymphatic massage at home, you’re going to want body oil, as we mentioned above. You will find a body gua sha or massaging tool that will help save your hands from aching after you’ve been massaging yourself for a while. Having a mirror handy can be helpful, too, especially if you’re just starting out using the method. Lymphatic massage expert Flavia Lanini told Vogue about her go-to massage for clients to perform at home, once every couple of weeks: 

  1. Stand in front of a mirror, warm up your body oil, and activate the lymphatic drainage. To do so, you’re going to press just below your collar bones before pressing your armpits three times on each side.
  2. Applying medium-to-firm pressure, run your hands or tool over your arms in upward motions. Throughout the massage, you will always be moving your hands from bottom to top.
  3. Next, massage your stomach. Start by applying pressure with both hands on top of each other between your hip bones. Run your palms around your navel several times. Then pinch the skin on your stomach for around two minutes.
  4. To drain your legs, press your groin three times on each side. Then, use your tool or make a fist, and apply firm pressure stroking from your knees to your hips. Squeeze your knee three times, and then run firm strokes up from your ankles to your knees. 

What foods detox the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system is closely linked to your immune system and inflammatory system. All of which can be affected by what you eat and the environment you live in. To detox your lymphatic system, you will want to stock up on organic, whole foods: tomatoes, leafy greens, foods rich in omega-3, turmeric, and ginger. Avoid processed foods, sugars, and artificial sweeteners. 

If you’re planning on undertaking a lymphatic detox, remember that hydration will be super important. Make sure you drink enough fluids and avoid caffeine where possible. Make sure you stay away from sugary drinks and opt for warm lemon water or decaffeinated teas instead. 

The bottom line

The lymphatic system works hard to keep you healthy by removing toxins and fighting against infections. Lymphatic massages are a trend that can help you maintain a healthy lymphatic system, reduce inflammation, and improve your overall well being. Massaging yourself once every couple of weeks with a massage tool and some body oil is a great way to look after yourself, so you can look and feel fabulous.