A lymphatic massage is one that stimulates the lymph nodes and promotes lymphatic drainage. The manual techniques involved in this massage aim to drain excess fluid from muscles and connective tissues. This makes a person feel better by reducing swelling throughout the body and by flushing out toxins and waste products from body tissues.
Lymphatic drainage is the process by with fluid from tissues drain into local lymph nodes. This fluid carries leftover toxins from body tissues, quarantined infectious agents, and byproducts of the metabolism. Muscle contraction and body movement promote the drainage of fluids into lymph nodes to be taken back into circulation.
Lymph nodes are also a site for major activity by the immune system. Immune cells known as resident cells live within the nodes and are activated by the presence of invading organisms. Resident cells help analyze the invaders and relay information about them to other parts of the immune system.
Lymph nodes are connected by vessels to carry lymph (fluid) back into circulation. Lymph is composed of many substances including collected fluids (blood plasma), proteins, and white blood cells. The movement of lymph along lymphatic vessels and back into circulation is an important part of immune function- lymphatic flow stimulates the immune system.
Since lymphatic flow is stimulated by muscle contraction and body motions, individuals with limited or restricted motion are at risk for retaining excess fluid.
Many body manipulation techniques, including osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), aim to increase lymphatic flow to boost immune function and recovery time. In fact, when Osteopathic hospitals were still around, their patients recovered faster from upper respiratory infections than did patients from Allopathic hospitals (1). This may be due to the use of OMT techniques such as ‘thoracic pump’ – lymphatic drainage of the thoracic area- on patients at Osteopathic hospitals.
Benefits of a Lymphatic Massage
Getting a lymphatic massage will help fluids move along in the body. This will lower swelling (and soreness), boost immune function, and boost mood. Lymphatic flow reduces recovery time from infections and intensive exercise, which is important for athletes that want to return to their sport.
Individuals with limited movement from illness or injury will benefit greatly from this type of massage. Excess fluid that has collected in tissues due to inactivity can be drained and alleviated associated symptoms. Come to Santa Cruz CORE and try a Lymphatic Massage today!
- Yao, Sheldon, et al. “Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment as a Useful Adjunctive Tool for Pneumonia.” Journal of Visualized Experiments: JoVE, MyJove Corporation, 6 May 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4173698/.
- Hodge, Lisa M. “Osteopathic Lymphatic Pump Techniques to Enhance Immunity and Treat Pneumonia.” International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine: IJOM, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3437985/.