Over the last year or so, people from every corner of the world had to pivot quickly to land on their feet when things went awry. In the hustle to morph our homes into makeshift offices, command centers, and even classrooms, it’s entirely possible that there were plenty of things that may have slipped through the cracks. Undoubtedly, ergonomic desk setups, desk posture, and self-care are high on that list.
Fast forward more than a year later, and here we are. Many of us are still sitting at awkward desk setups, probably for longer daily stints than we’d like. At the end of the day (both literally and figuratively), our neck and back muscles are likely paying the price through the accumulation of toxins that build up over time.
Indeed, by this point, the knots in your neck might be in need of a little TLC, and a self-massage with lymphatic massage therapy can certainly help.
While you can book a consultation with one of our licensed massage therapists, it’s understandable if you’re not quite ready to visit a spa just yet. If that’s the case, rest assured that doing self-massage at home can be equally beneficial for promoting lymphatic drainage. Ahead we take a closer look at what lymphatic drainage is, the benefits of a lymphatic drainage massage, and we share some tips for how you can do it at home.
What is lymphatic drainage?
The lymphatic system is a network of connective tissues and organs that is responsible for draining and removing excess fluid and waste from your body. Additionally, the lymphatic system also transports fats, water, proteins, and toxins to lymph nodes which are small clusters of cells located throughout the body that contain immune cells and work to fight infection.
Lymphatic drainage is the process by which your lymphatic system moves toxins out of your body tissues into the lymph nodes so they can be eliminated. Lymphatic drainage works by pulling toxins out of body tissues and transporting them through a fluid called lymph using lymph vessels, into the lymph nodes where the toxins are removed. Once toxins are removed, the result is fresh lymph fluid that continues circulating throughout the body to pick up and remove more toxins.
However, the flow of lymph can be slowed down or blocked if toxins build up in a particular area resulting in a condition known as lymphedema. With lymphedema, you may notice swelling and reduced range of motion in the affected area. More importantly, the disrupted lymphatic drainage process reduces the effectiveness of your immune system because the removal of toxins is slowed down. To address lymphedema, you can use lymphatic drainage massage to help restore the natural flow of lymph fluid.
What is lymphatic drainage massage?
Lymphatic drainage massage is a type of gentle massage that promotes the movement of lymph fluid throughout the body. Essentially, the skin is gently stretched and released over known lymphatic pathways.
For most spas, lymphatic massage therapy is considered a cornerstone technique for reducing inflammation and fatigue, and it is often used to help rid the body of toxins. Moreover, lymphatic massage can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost your immune function, and glowing skin when performed on the face.
How to do a lymphatic drainage massage at-home
Lymphatic massage therapy is relatively easy to perform on your own, but it’s important to remember that the key to a successful outcome is light pressure. Essentially you’re only rubbing your skin and stretching it gently toward your lymph nodes. If you happen to feel the muscle under your skin, you’re likely pressing too hard, so a good rule of thumb is to use your finger pads only, not your palms.
One of the best areas to do lymphatic drainage massage is your neck, because it contains some of the largest lymph nodes in your body. To begin, rest your fingertips in the triangular dip just above your collarbone. And again, with an extremely light touch, gently and slowly stretch the skin in a downward motion.
Next, place your hands flat on the back of your neck, right at the base of the skull on either side of the spine. Then stretch the skin towards your spine and move your fingers down toward the base of your neck, and release.
Finally, place your full right hand across your neck, resting your index finger on your jaw. With light contact and just enough pressure to gently stretch your skin, move your hands in a downward motion toward your collarbone.
While it may take some time to get the hang of a lymphatic drainage massage, you may find that if you keep at it, you’ll feel a little less stressed and a bit more relaxed.
When to visit a professional for lymphatic drainage massage
If you’re experiencing severe swelling or reduced range of motion in a particular area, you should talk with your doctor to discuss treatment options. They may recommend a combination of exercises, treatment lotions, and lymphatic massage therapy to help.
While at-home lymphatic massage therapy can be helpful for mild issues or as part of your regular body-care routine, for severe or ongoing issues a professional massage therapist is recommended. If you’re interested in scheduling a professional massage, book an appointment at your local milk + honey spa.