Originally published in Body Sense, Spring/Summer 2009. Copyright 2009.
Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
Ever feel like your immune system is working overtime? If so, you might want to give it some help by working with a massage therapist or skin care professional trained in manual lymph drainage. This mysterious sounding name refers to a technique that wasinvented in Europe and is widely used there. The treatment can not only boost your immunity, it can help the body detox, move congestion out of the body, and reduce swelling, especially after surgery.
The lymphatic system supports the body's immunity function and involves several organs (adenoids, thymus, tonsils, spleen), hundreds of lymph nodes, and a network of vessels. A clear fluid called lymph flows through these vessels and filters metabolic waste through the lymph nodes. These wastes include bacteria, dead cells, fats, fluids, proteins, and viruses.
When a trained therapist gently stimulates lymph nodes, it helps correct swelling and stagnation in the nodes, boosts the immune system, reduces local fluid retention, and provides relaxation. Giving this treatment requires advanced training and is practiced with a very specific set of light, massage-like strokes.
These strokes are light, and there should be no discomfort. You may feel you are hardly being treated at all, but lymphatic drainage goes a long way in terms of the benefits you may gain.
After your lymph drainage treatment, it's important to drink plenty of water. It's possible you could feel some mild, flu-like symptoms, depending on how much strain your body has been under prior to treatment because of environmental pollutants, medication, and diet, especially where alcohol and sugar are concerned. Most people leave a session simply feeling relaxed; but if you don't feel at the top of your game, drink plenty of water, watch your salt intake, and be physically active.
Manual lymph drainage is one way to manage your wellness in a busy world that makes many demands on your time and energy. An ounce of prevention is definitely better than coming down with the sniffles or other pesky ailments. Make the choice to fortify your immune system and sail on feeling and living better.