Your lymphatic system plays an important role in your immune function. Part of its job is to filter and remove extra fluid and waste from your body. It consists of hundreds of lymph nodes (bean-shaped organs that contain lymphocytes known to fight infection) that are connected by lymph vessels. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have a pump. Thus, it relies on physical activity and manual manipulation for lymph to circulate.
Manual lymphatic drainage is a form of gentle massage wherein the skin is stretched and released along lymph pathways. Doing so can facilitate the movement and proper draining of lymph fluids, which contain toxins, bacteria, viruses, and proteins. Lymph nodes are particularly numerous in the head and neck. When these become congested, it eventually leads to swelling of the eyes, face, or neck, nasal congestion, discomfort in any of the affected areas, or difficulty swallowing or moving the jaw or shoulders.
Lymphatic drainage massage helps by moving extra fluid from an area that is swollen, or is at risk of becoming swollen, into an area where the lymph nodes are working properly. It is done by stimulating contractions of surrounding lymphatic vessels, improving circulation throughout the lymphatic system. Lymphatic massage is a crucial component of a treatment program called decongestive lymphatic therapy (DLT).
Here’s what you can expect during a lymphatic manual therapy of the head and neck:
- Before the massage, a therapist will teach you lymphatic breathing techniques to prepare the lymph nodes to bring in more fluid.
- The massage can be performed either standing, sitting, or lying down, depending on the position a patient finds most comfortable.
- The massage starts by opening up along the collarbones and neck first. This means the therapist will manipulate the front, side, and back of the neck toward the middle of the collarbone.
- The massage is applied only on the fluid layer under the skin, just above the muscle bed, using light pressure and not hard enough to feel the muscles.
- Keeping the hands relaxed, the therapist will gently stretch the skin as far as it naturally goes, and then release it. The strokes are slow, light, and intentional.
- The palms of the hands are used in each stroke and not the fingertip. This is to achieve a nurturing and comforting response.
- Pain should never accompany lymphatic drainage. If there is pain, tell the therapist and the procedure will be immediately stopped, as it may be a sign of an underlying condition.
- After the massage session, you will be asked to rest and drink plenty of water, ideally 2 to 4 glasses, in order to help flush the body.
After the massage, expect to feel more energized and to move with more ease. Lymphatic drainage massage can benefit people who are suffering from skin disorders, fatigue, insomnia, stress, migraine episodes, or those seeking stiff neck treatment. It is also prescribed for more serious conditions like lymphedema, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. While the massage is generally safe, it is advised to check in with your healthcare provider first.
Lymphatic drainage is a technique that physiotherapy Dubai clinics swear by when it comes to reducing inflammation and improving circulation. A lymphatic system that is functioning properly, with no obstructions, is essential for overall health. If you think you could benefit from a lymphatic massage, talk to the experts at Scandinavian Physiotherapy Center by calling +971 4 551 6126 today!