Lymphatic drainage massage can benefit a wide range of people. At Pippa’s Movement Therapy in Devon, it’s just one of the specialist techniques that we use to improve people’s health.
The lymphatic system is made up of a complex series of vessels and nodes that are found in the body. These play a vital role in filtering waste products into the bloodstream as well as supporting the immune system. That’s because they are full of white blood cells called lymphocytes that help fight infections.
How Does the Lymphatic System Work?
In a healthy individual, the lymphatic system not only helps to eliminate the by-products of normal cell growth and function but also plays a fundamental role in maintaining an adequate immune system. The flow of lymph fluid is facilitated by natural the movement of the body.
- Lymph vessels: There is a wide-ranging network of vessels that carry lymph fluid around the body and many of these are near the surface of the skin. These vessels vary in size and the largest can be found at the thoracic duct in the area of the neck – this is where most of the filtered lymph fluid is emptied into the blood circulation.
- Lymph nodes: Along the vessels at various intervals are small nodes that play a role in trapping and filtering waste products from various organs. These too vary in size – some are no bigger than a pin-head while others are the size of a bean. Certain areas of the body have bigger concentrations of nodes like the armpits, neck, groin and stomach. You can have between 15 to 30 lymph nodes in one armpit but numbers vary from person to person.
- Lymph fluid: This is a colourless fluid that is found surrounding all organs in the body. It can contain bodily products such as fats from the stomach, proteins and the products of cell breakdowns. Lymph fluid is similar in a way to blood plasma and contains large numbers of white blood cells that play an important role in fighting infection and work in conjunction with other organs such as the spleen.
How Do You Maintain a Healthy Lymphatic System?
Of course, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is good for your immune response and helps promote a fully functioning lymphatic system. Here are just a few things you can do to keep it in tip-top condition:
- Exercise regularly: Exercise helps to improve lymphatic flow by stimulating the contraction of the vessels and promoting the movement of lymphatic fluid through the system. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, such as walking, cycling, or swimming.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps to keep your lymphatic fluid flowing smoothly and prevents dehydration, something which can lead to the thickening of the fluid, raising the potential for congestion. Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water per day.
- Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps to provide the nutrients and antioxidants needed to support lymphatic function. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive amounts of alcohol, which can have the opposite effect.
- Practice good hygiene: Practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with people who are sick, helps to prevent infections.
- Manage stress: Chronic stress can also impair lymphatic function, so it’s important to practice stress-management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing: Tight clothing can restrict lymphatic flow, so it’s important to wear loose-fitting clothing that allows for free movement, especially if you have an underlying health condition or injury.
Can Lymph Nodes Become Congested?
The short answer is, yes. This can happen if we have an injury, are unwell because of an infection or are taking certain medications. The most common condition is secondary lymphoedema which occurs when there is damage to the lymph system itself. It is seen quite often in certain types of cancer patients, including those with breast cancer, as well as individuals with sports or other physical injuries.
What Can Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage Do?
A build-up in areas like the lymph nodes can happen for a variety of reasons, including following surgery, health issues such as diabetes or sports or other injuries.
The most common reasons for having lymphatic drainage massage are to reduce water retention, boost immunity and reduce swelling. There are some other benefits, however. These include reducing conditions such as sinusitis, improving migraines, fighting cellulite and combatting chronic fatigue.
A recent study looking at the use of massage of the lymph system to tackle fatigue that accompanies long Covid, for example, discovered that there were significant improvements for patients for 9 to 10 treatments.
What Difference Will I Notice?
You should notice some differences about 24 hours after the massage but a lot will depend on why you are having the massage, your general health and if there is any underlying problem or health condition. Here are just a few of the benefits that people often see following a massage session:
- It can help to reduce swelling in affected areas by promoting the movement of lymphatic fluid through the system.
- By stimulating lymphatic flow, it can also improve blood circulation, which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and promote quicker healing.
- The lymphatic system plays a key role in immune function so massage should help to boost the circulation of those all-important white cells and your resistance to things like viruses.
- Lymphatic drainage massage can help to reduce pain and discomfort in an affected area by reducing swelling, improving circulation, and promoting greater relaxation.
- Other people see an improvement in the texture and appearance of the skin.
Where Can I Find Lymphatic Drainage Massage in Devon?
Manual lymphatic drainage massage should be performed by a qualified practitioner as using the wrong technique can cause blockages to worsen. If you live in Devon, the good news is that there are several experienced practitioners to choose from.
At Pippa’s Movement Therapy, I provide a range of different health and well-being solutions for local people in Devon, including lymphatic drainage massage. My clients vary from sports enthusiasts to those who have been referred to the clinic for specific health conditions, both short and long-term.
If you want to discuss whether lymphatic drainage massage is an appropriate treatment for you, contact me today to find out more.