You might have heard the term ‘Manual Lymphatic Drainage’ mentioned a time or two, and the buzz around this intriguing form of bodywork. Manual Lymphatic Drainage can reduce inflammation, help skin clarity, aid in circulatory benefits, ward off environmental toxins and allergies, reduce scars, improve digestion, and more. Cool! How though? Lindsay Cordell, a Massage Therapist certified in Lymphatic Therapy at Castle Hill Fitness, explains!
This remarkable system is present throughout the entire human body and consists of lymph vessels and various other organs. Lymphatic tissue is found in all of this. Structures involved in the lymphatic system are:
» Lymph Vessels
» Lymph nodes
» Thymus gland
» Peyer’s Patches: Small masses of lymphatic tissue found in the small intestine which monitor intestinal bacteria populations and prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
The Lymphatic System is a critical body component that acts as an immunity shield, as well as a sewer system. The functions of the Lymphatic system are to:
» Return protein and water from the interstitium to the cardiovascular system. (The interstitium is an organ consisting of fluid-filled spaces found in the body’s connective tissue.)
» Absorb protein, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins (Chyle) from the intestinal lymph vessels.
» Recognize and defend against foreign microorganisms and disease.
When foreign cells, cellular waste, and large molecules are inhibited from moving through lymph nodes, inflammation occurs. This is usually why our hip flexors (around the inguinal nodes), armpits (axillary nodes), and the medial knee (popliteal nodes) become tender. The movement of the lymphatic fluid becomes “bottlenecked” and extremities begin to feel heavy, spongy, or sluggish. Areas where the body has endured some sort of trauma or had surgery can often disrupt the original movement of the lymphatic system. Hardness or tension surrounding the scar tissue can occur because of this. The body’s natural fabric of fascia (or connective tissue) becomes compromised and tension begins to pull along fascial lines. As a result, compensation patterns and pain might spring up elsewhere in the body. Aiding the lymphatic system around these “blockages” helps reduce inflammation and/or pain, ease the tender or sluggish feeling, stimulate the immune system, and smooth out the skin’s appearance.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage generally uses light pressure, but the results can be quite immense. This is in part due to the Lymphatic System’s primary function of assisting the immune system and moving alongside the circulatory system. The following Self-Lymphatic Drainage Protocol for the Upper Body is a great routine for allergy relief!
Consult your physician before performing this on yourself if you have any of the following conditions: Fever, acute infection, early onset inflammatory disease. Circulatory system problems (especially thrombosis), cardiac issues such as heart disease, acute angina pectoris, or coronary thrombosis (heart attack). Active bleeding, internal or external. Active malignant cancers, undiagnosed lumps, or tumors with origins not yet determined by your physician. High-risk pregnancy or late-term pregnancy with complications.
Take a few deep breaths before proceeding with the routine. Deep breathing acts like a pump that helps move fluid through the vessels and lymph nodes. Take a slow deep inhale through your nose for six counts and allow your abdomen to gently expand. Hold the breath for two counts. Gradually exhale for seven counts, while allowing your shoulders to drop and neck to relax. Repeat as many times as necessary.
7. The biggie. This area may be stimulated in this sequence or completely by itself to aid in upper torso drainage. Breathe deeply while treating this area. Place your fingertips in your armpit so the heel of your hand is gently cupping the top of your breast tissue. Time for the slow circular motions in a downward direction for ten times. Gurgling stomachs and slight burps are possible as lots of clearing occurs.