We have spoken a couple of times now about the benefits of lymphatic massage to maintain and preserve optimal health. To recap just briefly though lymphatic massage is a system of light strokes applied to the skin with the goal of stimulating the flow of lymph fluid and directing it back to the heart.
The lymph fluid itself consists of both proteins, the essential building blocks of life, that have fallen from the capillaries into the tissues themselves and the the by-products, including toxins and other pathogens, from the process of the immune system. Once returned to the circulatory system the body then either eliminates or keeps depending on the substances themselves.
So how does this tie in with dry skin brushing?
Dry skin brushing is mainly spoken about in terms of it’s ability to remove dead skin allowing the growth of new skin ie. it’s benefits as an exfoliant. While this is true, one of the other benefits is that the pressure applied during dry skin brushing is just perfect to assist in movement of the lymph.
There are a number of pointers that it is important to bear in mind if using dry skin brushing as a form of self lymphatic massage.
Firstly, pressure is all important. If you use too much pressure the fragile capillaries that move the lymph will be crushed / broken. While these regenerate quite quickly this will impair he flow of lymph. If you work too softly on the other hand you will not really accomplish much of anything.
The best guideline is to use about as much pressure as you can stand applied directly to the eyeball.
Secondly, direction is equally important. It’s important to understand that unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system is blind ended vessels with a series of valves in them. Lymph flows into these vessels via a combination of osmotic pressure and muscular contraction, once in these vessels they can only flow in one direction. The valves prevent back flow which, if not prevented, would eventually flow back out through the back of the vessels and back into the tissue spaces. Just what we are trying to avoid!
The direction of lymphatic flow in general terms can be described as back towards the heart. This means you are brushing up the body if working on the lower body and down the body if working the head and neck areas. In more technical terms you are moving the lymph fluid along to collection ducts where it connects back with the circulatory system.
As an example of this principle spend 5-10 minutes undertaking skin brushing in the wrong direction, on your arm for example, and depending on the amount of fluid in the area you may end up with swelling beginning to occur.
Thirdly, timing is important. Don’t rush things when doing this, remember you are working through skin to affect a fluid that is working through a complex system of valves and interconnections. Work slowly and go over the area number of times for best effect.
A self lymphatic massage like this can be undertaken each day, or even morning and night. At times were you feel particularly run down or ill the frequency can be increased to assist in moving toxins through and out of the body. It is important however that when you finish you have a drink of water to help eliminate toxins from the body.
How does Self Lymphatic Massage differ from Lymphatic Massage?
Passion4Health offer Lymphatic Massage from our clinic in Brown’s Plains. There are a number of differences between this technique for self lymphatic massage and what would generally be undertaken in our clinic.
Lymphatic Massage in the clinic environment is typically conducted moving further away from the heart but always directing lymph to the heart. This may sound a little confusing, but basically we clear an area then move the lymph from further away from the heart into the area that has just been cleared. In this way we would work “down” the arm but all the time be pushing the lymph “up” the arm. This is also why in the clinic environment we tend to work small segments at a time, only moving on once the area has been cleared.
In the clinic environment we pay particular attention to some of the more problematic areas that be hard to address with self massage. This includes the breast region, armpits and nodes throughout the neck and groin. Through these areas there is both a high concentration of lymph nodes and generally high amounts of lymphatic fluid.
For what conditions is Lymphatic Massage beneficial?
Lymphatic massage either self or in a clinic environment has been shown to be beneficial for any number of conditions where a properly functioning immune system is beneficial. By assisting the lymphatic system in eliminating toxins from the body we are effectively giving the immune system a boost.
Lymphatic massage is also beneficial for anyone undertaking a detox. During a detox many of the toxins that have been stored by the body are released causing a heavy load on the lymphatic system. Lymphatic massage helps in moving those toxins through and out of the body.
Eric is one of the Massage Therapists in our Browns Plains clinic. He is passionate about body work of all forms and conducts the following treatments:
- Swedish Massage;
- Remedial Massage;
- Lymphatic Drainage;
- Chinese Cupping.