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Lymphatic Drainage massage - what's all the buzz about?

Yes, this is a big industry buzz at the moment, and you may have seen (manual) Lymphatic Drainage Massage (MLD) feature on your TV, in magazines and on social media, but why is it in the spotlight and does it have good reason to be?

Rest assured, in this blog I look to share the plethora of benefits of MLD, centred around improving your health, the reasoning behind its efficacy and who should be treated, so you can learn if this massage is right for you!

In my 15 years’ experience as a Massage Expert, I have trialled & trained in some of the most exclusive Spas and Clinics in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, being exposed to differing ways of treating the Lymphatic System through massage therapy. I find this a particular area of interest as I began my career as a Detox Specialist onboard Steiner Cruise Liners and over the years, I have seen a vast improvement of particular patient complaints through using my integrated technique to treat.

So first, the “science-y” bit…

Breakdown of the Lymphatic System

Your lymphatic system could be described as a sister to the circulatory system, interfacing with the blood vessels to carry away waste proteins and fluid to the interstitial space. It’s a very complex, finely balanced network of vessels, tissues and organs.

Like the circulatory system that supplies your blood, the network of lymph vessels serves almost every cell in your entire body. As our heart pumps blood through our circulation, it then reaches the smaller blood vessels and some of the fluid seeps out through tiny capillaries into the body’s tissues. The lymphatic system collects and transports this fluid (now called lymph) from the tissues to return it to the bloodstream.

Now the difference here is that your circulatory system has a built in “super pump”- your heart. Whereas the lymphatic system is less sophisticated and has no central pump, instead relying on the health of lymphatic tissues, muscle movement and deep breathing to move the lymph fluid to be processed by the body.

This system is vital for maintaining fluid balance and protecting our bodies, as it forms part of the immune system (producing lymphocytes or white blood cells to fight infection), removing waste products and abnormal cells, and absorbing fats and proteins from the intestines and taking them back into our blood so we can use them as fuel. All hormones, nutrients and waste products going to and from the cells must pass through the interstitial space.

What happens during the massage?

  1. A full consultation with your practitioner to learn of any complaints, your medical history and to discuss your treatment plan.

  2. Hands on massage which is bespoke to you, with both light drainage and deeper body contouring to improving lymphatic function, moving lymph and opening lymph nodes.

  3. The massage may work on specific areas of concern or treat your full body, dependent upon treatment outcomes.

  4. Relax and enjoy - you are in safe, experienced hands!

Who can benefit from MLD?

In essence everyone as we all have a lymphatic system!

However, if a healthy lymphatic system becomes compromised due to illness, poor lifestyle, toxic overload or a hormonal imbalance, this can lead to a range of issues and these are highly indicated for MLD to enhance the effectiveness of the Lymphatic System and reduce complaints. The most common include:

  • Tissue swelling including lymphoedema and oedema

  • Cellulite

  • Excess weight including lipoedema

  • Headaches

  • Joint pain

  • Fatigue

  • Poor immunity

  • Sluggish digestive system

  • Female hormonal complaints

  • Post cosmetic surgery

With the rise of cosmetic surgery, a great way to aid your recovery is with MLD to reduce swelling, discomfort and enhance results post-surgery. This massage can be performed from as early as 3 days post op (written Doctors/Surgeons approval is required pre-treatment). I have experience in treating pre and post Breast Augmentation, Liposuction and Abdominoplasty.

It is also good to note that there is an integral link between lymphatic health and hormones… Ladies, read on…

Many common menopausal complaints are listed above, and we are learning through industry studies such as the 2017 study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science that the effects of lymphatic drainage on women experiencing typical menopausal symptoms including water retention, mood swings, insomnia and fatigue, found that after just a single lymphatic massage the stress-related hormones cortisol and DHEA were significantly reduced, with positive mental and physical effects being reported with comments from participants being “I feel better” and “My legs feel lighter – (Source Credit: BodyBallancer UK)

Many women suffer with oestrogen dominance, often due to compromised healthy gut flora, endocrine disruptors, and the overuse of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Women can also have too much oestrogen stimulation relative to progesterone. Oestrogen and progesterone work so closely together that it’s imperative that they stay in balance. Women presenting heavy and painful periods, hormonal headaches, premenstrual syndrome, PCOS and Endometriosis are all likely to see an improvement in pain management through MLD.

As with all professional treatments you will receive a treatment plan and lifestyle recommendations which will help prolong your in-clinic results.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Stephanie Oliver – Massage Therapist & Skin Specialist

Read more about Stephanie in 'Our Team' section

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