Can a lymphatic massage improve your health?

Having regular massage is a self-care practices that you can definitely justify spending money on, because it also happens to be good for your health.

Massage helps stretch and relax your muscles, promotes muscle recovery after workouts or injury, and it can be used to manage certain medical conditions.

And of course, massages are very relaxing and can improve your wellbeing.

However, there are certain types of massage that claim to provide some deeper health benefits, such as lymphatic drainage massages. A lymphatic drainage massage is a massage technique that uses very gentle pressure to stimulate the lymph nodes to drain excess fluid.

So, what can a lymphatic drainage massage do for your health?

Your body's lymph system is a network of organs, nodes, ducts, and vessels that move lymph — a fluid containing white blood cells, proteins, and fats — from your tissues into the bloodstream, according to MedlinePlus. Your lymph nodes are structures that make immune cells to fight infection, and filter your lymph fluid to get rid of bacteria and cancer cells. As you can imagine, your lymph system is a very important line of defence against infections.

During a lymphatic drainage massage, a massage therapist stretches your skin in order to allow for congestion, deposits and debris to flow from the body. Your lymph nodes are your body's biological filtration system, so they do this naturally, however the belief is that by manually applying pressure to areas around your lymph nodes, you can sort of speed up the process, or give your lymph nodes a helping hand.

There are many reasons why people seek out lymphatic drainage massages, including reducing visible "puffiness,” or feeling sluggish. Lymphatic drainage can be helpful when you are recovering from surgery or illness, or, if you're recovering from an injury, lymphatic massage can actually help reduce swelling.

Interestingly studies have shown that lymphatic drainage techniques can help those with autoimmune disease – although studies are ongoing and further research is required before this can be claimed.

Further studies have shown that lymphatic drainage techniques can be helpful for individuals with breast cancer.

According to the Australian breast cancer network, Lymphoedema can be a side effect of some breast cancer treatments. It is a condition that relates to the body’s lymph nodes and it can cause swelling and discomfort.

Lymph nodes are glands that filter and drain fluid that circulates around the body. They are located through-out the body, including in the breast and armpit (axilla).

Lymph nodes are often removed during breast cancer surgery. Sometimes they are damaged by radiotherapy. When lymph nodes are removed or damaged, the natural flow of fluid from your breast and arm can be restricted. When this happens, swelling occurs and it is called lymphoedema. While there is no known cure for lymphoedema, early diagnosis and treatment make it easier to manage.

Done properly, regular lymphatic drainage massages can help reduce the amount of lymph fluid and provide relief for these individuals.

Some people also believe it lymphatic massage will enhance their immune system however without solid research, there is nothing to show the sort of effect lymphatic massages has on the general population that doesn't need lymphatic drainage.

The procedure is relaxing and makes you feel "light" afterwards, much like other types of massages. So, if it sounds appealing to you then go for it and if you get some added health benefits from the treatment then its well worth it. (As with any bodywork treatment, those interested in lymphatic massage are advised to consult with a physician if there is any doubt about how a session might impact overall health and well-being)

Capri Clark is the founder of Bayside Remedial Massage and Healing in Brisbane. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Nursing and a Diploma in Remedial Massage. Capri's gentle techniques bring a huge amount of care and skill to her treatments. If you would like to book in for a session with Capri, you can click here.