This is the first of a series of posts we will be publishing about the different types of massage that we offer here at Vibrant Life Massage. Many of the techniques we use are combined by our therapists in a treatment, but manual lymphatic massage is quite different.
So, lets start with the basics.
What is the Lymph System?
The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and nodes that performs a crucial function by filtering and transporting waste away from tissue around the body and back towards the heart.
Lymph nodes help filter bacteria and other toxins from your body by trapping them and using specialised white blood cells to destroy them. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have an automatic pump mechanism: it relies on movement in the muscles to propel fluid through the body.
What does the lymph system do?
Lymph nodes help filter bacteria and other toxins from your body by trapping them and using specialised white blood cells to destroy them. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have an automatic pump mechanism: it relies on movement in the muscles to propel fluid through the body. The lymphatic system can suffer if your lifestyle isn’t active enough, perhaps due to age, illness or injury.
When the lymph nodes aren’t functioning properly, fluid begins to build up in tissue around the body. This is known as oedema and can often result in swelling; a common example is the puffy legs and ankles many people experience after a long flight. Fluid retention can be caused by a variety of medical conditions or lack of movement & massaging the lymph nodes helps ease the symptoms of this build up.
Benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage
- Promote healing after surgery by encouraging blood flow to the area, and reducing scarring
- Reduce swelling after injury or surgery, or long periods of immobility like air travel
- Detox the body because eating the wrong foods, too little exercise or high stress can slow things down
- Boost the immune system – increase the production of antibodies that fight off infection
- Reduce inflammation which can benefit conditions like arthritis
- Reduce pain and stress levels
- Improved complexion and to reduce puffiness around the eyes
- Relieve symptoms of sinusitis by relieving congestion, reducing pain and discomfort
- Assist with breastfeeding, particularly when there are problems with blocked ducts and sore, tight breasts
- Improve sleep and reduce depression, anxiety and other effects of stress
What to expect from a MLD Massage
Unlike the majority of our treatments, MLD is a very gentle, light treatment which involves rhythmic stokes and soft pumping movements in the direction of the lymph nodes. The focus is not on muscles, which is one of the reasons this treatment might not be for everyone.
MLD may leave you feeling exhausted, particularly if you have been suffering from congestion in the lymph system. The best thing we can recommend is to drink plenty of water after a treatment, as this will help flush your system. Gentle exercise can also help to keep the lymph moving after your massage.