The lymphatic system is a very important part of the immune system of the body, and drains excess fluids from the body tissues.
- Manual lymphatic massage is a treatment for lymph oedema.
- Lymph oedema is a medical condition.
- Lymph oedema usually occurs in the extremities. The legs or arms become swollen with excess fluid.
- There are 6 main causes of lymph oedema: (there are other of course)
1. Inactivity (i.e. not enough walking etc. this could be because of being wheelchair bound). Massage is indicated.
2. Heart disease. If your heart is not pumping sufficiently, it can cause lymph oedema. In this case massage is contra-indicated.
3. Kidney disease. this would be a contra-indication for massage.
3. Congenital defect. Some people are born with part of their lymphatic system defective, which could cause one limb to swell. Massage is indicated.
4. Breast cancer. For those women who have had a mastectomy will also have had the lymph nodes in the armpit removed, in with case the arm on that side will swell. Massage is indicated.
5. Hormonal imbalance, particularly in women. Massage may be indicated, but a doctor should first examine you.
6. Tight psoas muscles. When the psoas muscles become tight, they can clamp down on the lymphatics leading up from the legs. This can be treated with massage, stretching and exercise.
- Manual lymph drainage massage is not a miracle cure for losing weight.
- Manual lymph drainage is not for "blocked glands" in fact, a block lymph node can be a medical emergency for which you need to seek emergency medical attention and have a drain put in it.
- Anybody who examines your feet or your eyes or attaches you to some electrical current machine and tells you that you have "blocked lymph glands" is spinning a yarn. This is not the reason for you being unable to lose weight, or any other fable.
Lymph vessels in the body form a network across the whole body. These vessels collect excess inter-cellular fluid from the body, and return it to the circulatory system. At regular intervals around the body, these vessels lead to lymph nodes (commonly called glands), these nodes are responsible for destroying any infections and then allowing the lymph to continue on it's journey. The fluid is eventually routed via the subclavian vein to the blood circulatory system.
The flow of fluid within the lymphatics is achieved by muscle pumping action, as muscles in the body forming a pumping action on the vessels as they do their normal jobs. Because the lymph vessels have one-way valves in them at regular intervals, the fluid is moved along in one direction.
In some instances, this process breaks down, and the system doesn't work very well. This can be caused by a lack of physical activity in the limbs, surgery (particularly breast cancer, and heart bypass surgery), physical injury, and in some very rare cases by parasitic infection within the lymphatics. An obstruction, like tight psoas muscles can also be the cause.
Lymphatic drainage massage is a modality designed to aid the flow of fluid through the lymphatic system, and draining it away from the limbs, towards the body.
This massage action is very gentle and is done in a rhythmic, pumping motion. It is not deep at all.
There is the perception among some massage therapists, that this massage is deep to the point of leaving bruising along the path of the main lymphatics. This is not the correct method, and will cause more damage than good.
This is a very light, rythmic, boring massage and can leave both the therapist and patient yawning.
The nature of this massage requires bare skin,
particularly for the stroking movements which require massage oils
to reduce pulling on the skin. It would follow then, that any part
of the body being massaged needs to be undressed. Areas that are not
being massaged at the time are kept covered with a towel to keep you
warm in winter and to preserve your modesty if this would make you
feel more comfortable. Care will be taken not to expose any private
areas of the body.
Lymphatic massage routines:
Legs and arms
Arms and chest, for mastectomy patients
also adjust the routine for you to meet your particular
A massage to release tight psoas muscles may also be appropriate.
Lymphatic Breast Care Massage
The lymphatics of the breasts are very different to any other part of the body, in that they don't have any muscles acting on them to cause a pumping action. This, together with the lymphatics being squashed flat by a bra all day, causes the system to stop working.
Studies in Canada, have shown that regular lymphatic massage of the breasts can reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 80%. The same studies have also shown that for women who wear a bra for more than 8 hours a day are also at increased risk for developing breast cancer. In fact, this risk increases by about 10% for every hour a day average extra that a bra is worn.
The lymphatic breast care massage is usually a self massage that is done about 2 to 3 times a week. This is not the same the breast inspection that women should do, to inspect their breasts for lumps (cancer detection).
The breast care massage is usually included as part of the full body massage but can be added to any massage routine if so desired.
I also travel for mobile massage to clients on the East Rand, including:
Waverly and Modderfontein.
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