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What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage?

Manual lymphatic drainage massage, also referred to as lymphatic drainage massage, is beneficial for reducing swelling caused by blockages in the lymphatic system due to medical treatment or illness. This type of massage includes the gentle manipulation of targeted body areas to facilitate the movement of lymph towards functioning lymph vessels.


What is a lymphatic drainage massage used for?


Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage

The popularity of lymphatic drainage massage has increased due to its potential health benefits. This type of massage is gentle and specifically targets the lymphatic system, an essential part of the immune system. The lymphatic system comprises organs, vessels, and tissues that facilitate the movement of lymph, a fluid similar to water, from different areas of the body into the bloodstream.


Lymphatic drainage massage is particularly beneficial for individuals with lymphedema, a condition where lymph fluid fails to return to the bloodstream properly and accumulates in other body parts, most commonly the legs or arms. Lymphedema can be caused by various factors, such as:


  • Genetic disorders

  • Injury

  • Infection

  • Cancer treatment

  • Surgery


The Lymphatic System


The Lymphatic system

Your lymphatic system is an important part of your immune system. It keeps fluids in your body balanced and protects you against infections. 

Your lymphatic vessels, collecting ducts, tissues, and organs drain extra lymph fluid that leaks into your tissues from tiny blood vessels (capillaries). If your lymphatic system doesn't work right or is blocked, you'll end up with extra fluid in your tissues. 

Your lymphatic system also includes:





  • Bone marrow. This soft, spongy tissue in your bones makes blood cells.

  • Thymus. Immune T cells mature in this organ in your chest.

  • Tonsils and adenoids. These structures in your throat and nasal cavity trap germs you eat and air you breathe.

  • Spleen. This large lymphatic organ under your ribs and above your stomach filters old or damaged cells from your blood.

  • Lymph nodes. These glands in your neck, armpits, and groin filter viruses or bacteria from your lymph fluid is it moves through them.

  • Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT). The thin mucous membrane lining your tonsils, airways, small intestine, and appendix helps to find and rid you of germs.


Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage


Aside from its potential benefits for other health issues, lymphatic drainage massage may also be effective for treating various conditions. Research has shown that certain health problems may respond better to this type of massage therapy compared to others.

Several studies have highlighted the positive effects of lymphatic massage on conditions such as:

‌Rheumatoid arthritis. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may have poor lymph flow as the disease gets worse. Along with tissue swelling, pain in the joints increases, joints lose their function, and the skin changes color. Lymph drainage massage can help ease these later-stage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

‌Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Chronic venous insufficiency is when the valves or walls of the veins that are in the legs don't work well. This makes it hard for the blood to flow back to the heart from the legs.Lymphatic drainage massage can help increase the speed of blood flow in people with CVI.

The massage can make the femoral artery – the large artery in the thigh – perform better right after the session. It's unclear how long this impact lasts or whether the massage provides long-term relief from pain and swelling. Further research in this area would help shed more light on how well this massage technique works on CVI.

‌Fibromyalgia. Lymph drainage massage may help people with fibromyalgia. This condition causes inflammation of the skin nerves, discoloration of the skin, and tissue swelling. The massage has been shown to be better than connective tissue massage in treating depression, stiffness, and improving quality of life for those living with fibromyalgia.

Lipedema. This is the name for when you have lymphedema from fat in your lower body that blocks lymph from draining through your lymphatic system.


Types of Lymphatic Drainage Massage


There are four types of lymphatic drainage massage commonly used by massage therapists, physical therapists and doctors. These include.

  • Vodder. This technique uses various sweeping motions around the area your therapist is treating.

  • Foldi. An extension of the Vodder technique, Foldi requires your massage therapist to alternate between circular hand motions and moments of relaxation.

  • Casley-Smith. This approach to lymphatic massage also involves circular hand motions, mainly using the sides and palms of the hands.

  • Leduc. This technique relies on hand motions to collect lymph fluid before redirecting it into the larger lymphatic system.

All these techniques work about the same way. They use gentle movements to stretch and move the skin in the direction of lymph flow. The strokes must start at the part of the limb nearest to your torso and move outward. Your massage will usually last 15 to 60 minutes.


What Happens During a Lymphatic Drainage Massage?


Your massage therapist will follow a particular sequence, using a series of massage techniques, including stretching, compressing, gliding, and cupping motions. They'll start with the main lymph drains. These include lymph nodes in your:

  • Neck

  • Groin

  • Armpits


Light movements stimulate your lymphatic system without pressing hard on your vessels. They make the lymph fluid move easily through your nodes and tissues, making sure the fluid doesn't get trapped anywhere.

Lymphatic drainage has two steps. They are:


  • Clearing. During this step, your tissues will release lymph fluid.

  • Reabsorption. Your lymph fluid moves into your lymph nodes.


Risks of Lymphatic Drainage Massage


Lymphatic drainage is usually safe and can help with lymphedema. It might not be a good idea for you if you have other conditions, including:

  • Heart problems

  • Kidney failure

  • Blood clots

  • Infection


If you would like to book a Manual Lympahtic Drainage Massage at Indigo Massage Therapy Kent please click below




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