Your lymphatic system is an important part of your immune system, designed to rid the body of waste. When functioning properly, it eliminates waste through respiratory movement and natural muscle contractions.
That being said, toxins, cellular waste, and fluid will build up when the lymphatic system and lymph nodes fail to properly drain. A lymphatic drainage massage may be an effective option, especially if you’ve had surgery on your lymph nodes.
Surgery and other damage often lead to a condition called lymphedema.
Lymphatic drainage massage is a safe and gentle technique that targets lymph flow and breaks apart lymph congestion while also stimulating lymph and draining waste and fluid from the body.
In this article, we will detail lymphatic drainage massage benefits. Read on to also learn how a lymph drainage massage is performed and when to avoid a lymphatic drainage massage.
What Are the Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage?
Lymphatic drainage massage offers many important benefits. For instance, it stimulates the circulation of blood and lymph, and this moves tissue fluid into the lymph vessels from the tissues.
Research shows that lymphatic drainage massage can push up to 78% of stagnant lymph into circulation. One particular study from 2009 showed that lymphatic drainage massage led to significant improvements in pain intensity, pain pressure threshold, and health-related quality of life in women with primary fibromyalgia.
As a result, lymph drainage massage can help remove toxins and wastes from the tissues. Increased lymph flow will also help with immunity, reduce the risk of infection, and speed the healing of inflammation.
The relaxation brought on by lymphatic drainage massage may also help relieve headaches and reduce pain, depression, stress, fatigue, and insomnia. Moreover, deep abdominal drainage massage can decrease abdominal pain and constipation and restore intestinal peristalsis.
Everyone agrees that a good sports massage feels great. But does it really help your running in any measurable way?
That’s what a recent review of research on the topic, published in BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, set out to answer. Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom compiled the results of studies on sports massage and various aspects of athletic performance, including strength, sprint and enduranceperformance, flexibility, and muscle soreness.
The reviewers looked only at studies that met their criteria for sports massage, which they defined as “manual manipulation of muscles and soft tissue by a qualified professional, with the purpose of improving performance in or recovery from sport.” (A previous research review on the topic included non-manual therapies such as vibration and water-jet massage). In all, they pooled the results of 29 studies, comprising more than 1,000 subjects.
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The researchers did conclude that sports massage increases short-term flexibility and significantly reduces subjective ratings of muscle pain and soreness. But, they note, the flexibility findings were in comparison to doing nothing, rather than stretching, light exercise, and other common practices done with the hope of increasing flexibility.
But Here’s the Rub
The researchers’ conclusions might seem to undercut much of the rationale for sports massage. But Julia Kirtland, owner of Core 3 Sports Massage in Portland, Maine, and the 1997 U.S. marathon champion, mostly agrees with the review’s findings.
“Massage helps athletes maintain overall muscle health by identifying areas of tension and addressing them before an injury occurs,” she said. “Massage increases tissue flexibility and muscle relaxation, improves range of motion, relieves trigger points, as well as reduces adhesions. Combined, these benefits of massage help the athlete remain active, optimize his or her training, and maximize performance.”
It’s important to understand the limitations of the studies that have been done on sport massage and performance. They have been extremely short-term, and usually comparing a hard effort when subjects have and haven’t had a sports massage. For example, in one of the few studies on sports massage and endurance, 18 male cyclists did two 5K time trials 20 minutes apart. Between the two hard rides, they either cycled at an easy effort, lied down, or received a massage. Performances on the second time trial were best by those who cycled easily before it.
That’s not how most people approach sport massage.
Many elite runners get regular bodywork in the same way that you might frequently check your car’s oil level and tire pressure—
a preventative approach that to seeks to keep the machinery running as smoothly as possible. The review’s finding that sports massage reduces feelings of muscle soreness should mean that treatments will leave you more able and eager to train at the level you want.
This more nuanced view of sport massage puts it in the category of other health-supporting practices, such as getting enough sleep and eating a varied, nutrient-dense diet. These practices allow your body to better withstand the demands of training and increase your chances of remaining injury-free, so that you can achieve the consistency that leads to true improvements in performance. “I think it’s through keeping muscles healthy that massage helps performance,” Kirtland said.
Similarly, sports massage is best viewed not as a one-time cure for long-term problems.
“Some issues—recent, but not severe—can be can be helped by just one, or a few, massages,” Kirtland said. “However, the issues that are chronic, often the type that runners deal with, tend to take time to ‘fix.’ Athletes have to be invested in maintaining muscle health long-term (through self-care as well as massage), not just waiting until they get hurt and can’t participate in their sport.”
If you use sports massage as one way to maintain your muscles’ health, then it makes sense to time them for when your muscles might most benefit. It’s better to get a massage later in the day rather than immediately after you’ve done a long run or hard workout. Another good time is the day after your longest and hardest runs, to potentially speed recovery for your next ambitious outing.
Most sports massage therapists had to stop working in the initial phase of the coronavirus pandemic. According to information compiled by the American Massage Therapy Association, massage is again allowed in all but eight states and the District of Columbia; some states have allowed massage therapy to resume in some areas while continuing to disallow it in areas with higher case loads.
Tight muscles may cause pain because there is a lack of blood flowing to that area. That lack of blood (known as ischemia) prevents the absorption of oxygen and nutrients and causes a buildup of waste products (metabolites and lactic acid), which can make the area hurt. The condition can cause the muscle to tighten further or spasm. Massage can help bring blood back into ischemic tissue, nourish it, remove toxins, and relax the muscle allowing it to function properly.
Massage also increases lymphatic system circulation, enhancing the immune system.
The nervous system is relieved and nurtured through massage. It can reduce sympathetic (fight or flight) stimulation and help to balance the autonomic nervous system. Massage can also release endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer, which can produce a tranquilizing effect. Another reason for pain may be the impingement of a nerve by a tight muscle.
Massage therapy acts as an adjunct to medical treatment to assist in recovery from tendinitis, muscle strain, sprains, overuse injuries. A muscle asked to perform an excessive repetitive action may develop an overuse injury. This applies whether you are an athlete in training or an office worker simply putting in a “normal” day.
Stress, tight muscles, chronic pain, restriction of joint range of motion, overuse injuries, poor posture, athletic performance, cramping, spasms, circulation, digestion, metabolism, TMJ, myofascial restrictions, poor muscles tonus, edema, elimination, recovery from injury, adhesions and anxiety may all be addressed with massage therapy.
Massage therapy promotes wellness. It feels good, is relaxing, may clear the mind, reduce anxiety levels, and increase awareness of the body-emotion-mind-spirit connection.
It’s now estimated that in the U.S. alone the massage therapy industry generates over $12 billion annually! Roughly 39.1 million adult Americans (18 percent of the total population) had a massage at least once in the previous year, according to the American Massage Therapy College,
Not only is massage therapy an effective way to help soothe sore muscles and improve blood flow, it also doubles as a powerful, natural stress reliever for many people. Today, there’s a wide range of massage techniques used by therapists to help people overcome common health conditions like fibromyalgia, anxiety and arthritis. Massage techniques like Swedish massage, spots massages and reflexology are now commonly being offered at such places as spas, yoga studies, hotels and chiropractic offices.
Quick Facts About Massages:
Popularity of massage therapy is growing rapidly; every year about 20 percent more massages are performed than in the previous year.
Estimates show that there are between 300,000 to 350,000 trained massage therapists or massage therapy students in the United States.
There are currently more than 250 different types of massages being offered around the world according to The Association of Bodywork & Massage Professionals. Body massages offer different benefits depending on what the patient’s goals are, but most have the same underlying principles.
The most popular places for massages to be performed include the clients home/office, spa/salon, a holistic health care setting, health club/athletic facility, or massage therapy franchise.
Surveys show that 52 percent of adult Americans who had a massage in 2015 received it for medical or health reasons such as pain management, soreness/stiffness/spasms, injury rehabilitation or overall wellness.
In 2015 more than 51 million American adults (16 percent) had discussed massage therapy with their doctors, and about 69 percent of their doctors or health care providers referred them to a therapist/strongly recommended massage therapist.
Some studies have found that up to 91 percent of people agree that professional massages can be effective in reducing pain.
Massages are also very common for reduction stress and fatigue; 33 percent of massage consumers in 2015 had a massage for relaxation/stress reduction
A common misconception I often hear during the summer months is that if you have a sunburn, you should cancel your routine massage appointment. However, massage therapy can be a beneficial component to your body’s healing process and even speed up your skin’s ability to repair itself.
So before you cancel your appointment, consider these benefits.
Increased Circulation– massage therapy improves circulation by pushing blood through congested areas of the body while releasing toxins. This opens up pathways so vital nutrients and oxygen can make their way to the injured site
Immediate Relief– topical oils or creams can provide temporary yet immediate relief when skin is feeling warm and tender. Aloe vera has been used as a natural burn remedy for thousands of years. Other mild oils such as jojoba oil can also provide relief. Keeping sunburned skin moisturized helps the burned area stay hydrated and supple and will minimize damage
Natural Healing– regular massage therapy promotes overall health and wellness. A healthy body is able to heal faster and more efficiently than someone who isn’t taking care of themselves
When To Avoid A Massage
There are different levels of severity to sunburns. If your sunburn is painful to the touch, inflamed, or otherwise irritated, your skin may need some time before it is worked on. However, talk to your massage therapist about your symptoms before canceling your appointment. There are other treatment options available if you are unable to get your normal massage. Having non-affected areas of the body worked on can help relieve some of the stress your body is going through. Treatments such as Reflexology increases circulation and can stimulate the nervous system to promote a faster healing time.
Reiki is another option that can accelerate healing through the laying of hands on different areas of the body. This ancient form of natural healing restores imbalances of energy due to physical or emotional blockages and promotes an overall position feeling of well-being.
A massage may seem like a luxury, but for many people dealing with pain, anxiety or stress, they can be necessary. The benefits of regular massage are almost endless, but here are five of our favorites:
“I actually enjoyed changing diapers and I enjoyed swaddling. I don’t mind being swaddled either, on occasion.” ~ Jason Bateman
1. Stress management
Let’s face it: there’s never going to be a time when our lives are completely stress-free. Whether it’s work, your mother-in-law’s visit, your friends causing drama or your man troubles, there are always going to be speed bumps in the road of life. We won’t promise you that an Urban Nirvana massage will cure all of your worries, but it can help you alleviate stress and better manage your life. Studies show that a little “me time” is invaluable for busy parents and workers alike. Don’t feel guilty about taking 30, 60 or even 90 minutes to be quiet and calm.
2. Improve your sleep
Along with stress comes lack of sleep. Imagine this: your mind is running a mile a minute as the clock strikes 3am. If this sounds familiar, it could be helpful to get a massage. Along with feeling rested after having your muscles relaxed, your mind will be a little more calm and you can get to a restful place with greatest ease.
3. Alleviate headaches
Maybe you’re dependent on caffeine, maybe you have are having neck troubles, maybe you are predisposed to headaches. It doesn’t matter. By alleviating tension at all your pressure points, you can greatly reduce your headaches with regular massages. You will feel less stiff and perhaps have less headaches, which in turn makes you less dependent on headache medicine.
4. Increase blood flow
The National Library of Medicine says it best, “red blood cells have specific tasks of carrying oxygen to your body’s vital organs, providing vitality and energy.” Does this subscribe you? If not, then a massage would be the perfect solution. Getting your blood flowing through exercise is important, but if you have an old injury that rears its ugly head whenever you put on your running shoes, a massage can help.
5. Injury/pain management
Speaking of old injuries, massage is the perfect solution for back, neck, or any muscle-related pain. Spa 54 perfect for those looking to alleviate pains and who get regularly massaged.
Massages generally fall under the alternative medicine umbrella. They’re becoming a popular complementary therapy for many conditions. Here are some advantages of getting a hot stone massage:
1. Helps relieve muscle tension and pain
Heat has long been used to ease muscle tension and pain. It helps increase blood flow to the affected area. It may also reduce muscle spasms and increase flexibility and range of motion. Cold therapy helps relieve inflammation. Depending on your symptoms, alternating hot and cold stones during your massage may be helpful.
2. Reduces stress and anxiety
It’s the position of the American Massage Therapy Association that “massage therapy can be effective for stress relief.” Research supports their opinion. A 2001 study showed that a ten-minute massage improved cardiovascular responses such as stroke volume. A 1997 study found that 15-minute, onsite chair massages in the workplace significantly reduced stress compared to a 15-minute break without massage.
A 2015 studyTrusted Source found that people who underwent abdominal colorectal surgery had less pain, tension, and anxiety after receiving post-operative massage.
3. Promotes sleep
A 2006 literature review found massage may be an alternative to sleeping pills in adults with insomnia. The research showed that back massage helped promote relaxation and sleep. A 2001 study showed that infants with sleep problems who were given a 15-minute massage by their parents went to sleep faster. They were also more alert, active, and positive upon awakening. Massage is thought to help you enjoy more restorative sleep, although it’s not completely understood why.
4. May help relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases
Hot stone massage may relieve painful conditions such as fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread, chronic pain. People with fibromyalgia who received a 30-minute massage slept longer, had fewer trigger points, and had decreased levels of substance P (a substance involved in transmitting pain signals) than people with the condition who received relaxation therapy. More research is needed, however, before massage becomes a standard fibromyalgia treatment.
A 2013 studyTrusted Source found that people with rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from a moderate-pressure massage, such as hot stone massage. Participants in the study experienced less pain, greater grip strength, and a greater range of motion after one month of massage therapy.
5. May help decrease cancer symptoms
A large, three-year study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management examined how massage affected pain, fatigue, stress and anxiety, nausea, and depression in 1,290 people with cancer. The study showed massage, especially Swedish massage, improved cancer symptoms, even in those with substantial symptoms. Researchers believe the comforting use of human touch played a role.
6. May boost immunity
Massage may give your immune system a boost. According to a 2010 studyTrusted Source, a single session of Swedish massage therapy had a positive and acute impact on immunity. Blood samples taken before and after the massage showed a decrease in arginine-vasopressin, a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and water retention.
Place a tennis ball or foam roller between your back and a wall. Purchase a tennis ball or foam roller specifically designed for massage at a sporting goods or department store. Lean up against a wall and place the ball or roller over the area in your lower back that is sore.
You should feel some pressure on the tight area where the ball or roller is pressing in. Do not continue if the area is extremely painful or if the pain is coming from a bone.
Seek professional medical attention if you experience extreme pain upon placing pressure on your lower back.
Roll on the area that hurts with the ball or roller. Move your hips and bend your knees to roll the ball or roller over the sore areas of your lower back. Continue leaning heavily into the ball or roller against the wall to apply pressure to the areas. If you’re using a roller, roll the device up and down along the muscles beside your spine.
Try to get most of your body weight into that sore area where you have the ball or roller, but stop or decrease the pressure if the area becomes more painful.
Try the ball or roller on the floor to get added pressure. To apply more pressure into your muscles, lay down on your back on the floor and place the ball or roller under the sore areas. Bend your knees and use your feet to move your body so that the ball or roller slides over the sore muscles to loosen them.
Use the ball or roller massage technique for no more than 5 minutes per day.Don’t spend more than 5 minutes a day massaging your back with a tennis ball or foam roller. Doing so can increase your soreness. Allow the muscles time to recover from the massage, and try again the next day if they are still tight or sore.
Massaging Someone Else
Have the person lay down flat on their stomach. Choose a firm, comfortable surface for your work area, such as a firm bed, padded floor, or massage table. Ask the person to lay flat on their stomach, turning their head to either side and positioning their arms however they are most comfortable.
Create a comfortable, calming environment by diffusing relaxing essential oils, like lavender, chamomile, or frankincense.
Also, turn the lights down low and keep the room nice and warm.
Take a moment to center yourself before the massage. Take a few deep breaths to help yourself relax, and try to clear your mind of any thoughts. That way, you’ll be able to be fully present and help set a relaxing tone for your clients.
Squeeze a few drops massage oil onto your hands if the person likes it.Massage oil helps reduce friction on the skin and generally makes the massage more comfortable. Some people don’t like oil during a massage, however, so ask the person if it’s okay to use some oil. You can use oil that’s specially designed for massages, or another common oil such as olive, coconut, or almond.
Start with a small amount of oil and use more during the massage if you need it.
You can warm up the oil in advance by placing the bottle in warm water.
Consider using an oil with a fragrance they like, like lavender oil.
Ask them if they are comfortable with the amount of pressure you’re applying throughout the massage. It’s important to keep open communication during a massage to avoid hurting the person. Tell them that if anything hurts, you will back off and apply less pressure. If you’re not applying enough pressure, you can press harder if they ask you to.
Keep checking in with the person by asking, “How does this feel? Is this enough pressure or too much?”
If the person experiences severe pain during the massage, you should stop the massage and advise them to seek professional medical care.
Apply upward pressure from the low back outside the spine with both hands.Place your whole hands flat on the person’s lower back near their hips, on either side of their spine. Press upward firmly with your entire hand toward their middle back, then lift your hands and do it again, starting at their lower back. Do not press down directly on their spine or hip bones; apply pressure to muscles only.
This technique is called effleurage and is commonly used to start loosening muscles during a massage.
Continue this technique for 5-10 minutes.
Use circular pressure with the heels of your hands near their hips. Start by placing the heels of both hands at the bottom sides of the person’s spine, near their hips. Move your hands outward and upward in a circle, applying pressure around their hips and lower back.
Move up and down the sides of their spine slightly, doing the circles in the areas that are sore for the person. Do not press directly on their spine or any other bones.
Continue this part of the massage for 5 minutes, or less if the person prefers.
7 Use your fingertips to press from the center of the spine out toward their hips.Find the base of the person’s spine with your fingertips. Move your fingertips to the outside of their spine and press down, then move your fingers outward along their hips while applying pressure.
Do 1 side at a time for this part, using both hands if you like. This technique massages tightness out of the tops of the gluteus muscles that often cause lower back pain.
Continue this part of the massage for no more than 5 minutes.
8 Slide your thumb along the long muscles beside their spine in an upward motion. Find the long, sausage-shaped muscles that run along the person’s spine. Use your thumb to apply firm pressure to the outer sides of the muscle, sliding it up along the muscle and stopping at the middle back. Do each side of the spine 3 times.
Using only your thumbs increases the amount of pressure going into the muscles of the person’s back.
Use your thumb to relieve pressure in tight or sore areas. Ask the person if there are specific areas that are feeling tight and in need of attention. Have them show you exactly where their pain is by pointing to the spot. Use your thumbs to apply firm pressure to these areas for about 5 seconds each, making tiny circular movements in the muscle to help loosen it. This is called deep-tissue or trigger-point massage.
Be sure you are not pressing on bones when you press these tight areas. Stop immediately if the person experiences increased pain during this part of the massage.
Research has indicated that the percentage of Americans who are stressed at work is high—and it’s only getting higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 29 to 40% of Americans report being “extremely stressed at work.”1
Work stress has significant health consequences that range from relatively benign (like getting more colds and flus) to potentially serious (such as heart disease and metabolic syndrome).
While stress at work is common, finding a low-stress job is hard (if not impossible). A more realistic approach is to adopt effective coping strategies to reduce stress at your current job. Here are some stress management techniques you can try if you are finding it hard to cope with work stress.
Start Your Day off Right
After scrambling to get the kids fed and off to school, dodging traffic and combating road rage, and gulping down coffee in lieu of a healthy breakfast, many people arrive to work already stressed. This makes them more reactive to stress in the workplace.
You might be surprised by how affected by workplace stress you are when you have a stressful morning. When you start off the day with planning, good nutrition, and a positive attitude, you might find that the stress of your job rolls off your back more easily.
Be Clear on Requirements
A factor known to contribute to job burnout is unclear requirements for employees. If you don’t know exactly what is expected of you, or if the requirements for your role keep changing with little notice, you might become extremely stressed
If you find yourself never knowing if what you are doing is enough, it may help to have a talk with your supervisor. You can take the time to go over expectations and discuss strategies for meeting them. This can relieve stress for both of you!
Stay Away From Conflict
Interpersonal conflict takes a toll on your physical and emotional health. Conflict among co-workers can be difficult to escape, so it’s a good idea to avoid conflict at work as much as you can.
Don’t gossip, don’t share too many of your personal opinions about religion and politics, and steer clear of “colorful” office humor.
When possible, try to avoid people who don’t work well with others. If conflict finds you anyway, make sure you know how to handle it appropriately.
Even if you’re a naturally disorganized person, planning ahead to stay organized can greatly decrease your stress at work. Being organized with your time means less rushing in the morning to avoid being late as well as less hustling to get out at the end of the day.
Keeping yourself organized can also mean avoiding the negative effects of clutter, and being more efficient with your work.
Another surprising stressor at work is physical discomfort, often related to where you perform most of your daily tasks (such as your desk).
You might not notice you’re stressed if you’re sitting in an uncomfortable chair for just a few minutes, but if you practically live in that chair when you’re at work, you might have a sore back and be more reactive to stress because of it.
Even small things like office noise can be distracting and cause feelings of low-grade frustration. Do what you can to create a quiet, comfortable, and soothing workspace.
Multitasking was once heralded as a fantastic way to maximize one’s time and get more done in a day. However, people eventually began to realize that if they had a phone to their ear and were making calculations at the same time, their speed and accuracy (not to mention sanity) often suffered.
There is a certain “frazzled” feeling that comes from splitting your focus and it doesn’t work well for most people. Instead of multitasking to stay on top of your tasks, try another cognitive strategy like chunking.
Walk at Lunch
Many people feel the ill effects of leading a sedentary lifestyle. You can combat the physical and mental effects of work stress by getting some exercise on your lunch break.
If your schedule allows for it, you might try taking short exercise breaks throughout the day. This can help you blow off steam, lift your mood, and get into better shape.
Keep Perfectionism in Check
Being a high achiever might make you feel good about yourself and help you excel at work, but being a perfectionist can create problems for you (and those around you).
You might not be able to do everything perfectly, every time—especially in a busy, fast-paced job. A good strategy to avoid the perfectionism trap is always striving to just do your best and making time to congratulate yourself on your efforts. You may find that your results are better and you’ll be much less stressed at work.
Listen to Music on the Drive Home
Listening to music offers many benefits and can be an effective way to relieve stress before, during, and after work. Playing an uplifting song while you make breakfast can help you start the day off feeling better prepared to interact with the people in your life. Likewise, combating the stress of a long day with your favorite music on the drive home can help you wind down and feel less stressed when you get there.