Day after day, we dump toxins into our bodies: we eat badly, we live in dirty cities full of pollution, we drink too much alcohol, eat too much sugar and our lifestyles are unforgiving and unhealthy. Your lymphatic system's job is to flush all the toxins away, and keep you healthy. Lymphatic drainage massage is a therapeutic massage treatment that uses very light pressure and long, gentle, rhythmic strokes to increase lymphatic flow and get rid of toxins in your body. Developed in the 1930s, lymphatic drainage is a delicate form of massage that stimulates the body’s lymphatic system, improving the metabolism, helping the body to eliminate waste and toxins and providing a boost to the immune system.

Lymphatic drainage is essentially a form of massage carried out by a specialist practitioner. The first session involves a consultation to determine the client’s needs and, at that point, the number and frequency of future sessions is decided upon. Unlike some other forms of massage, lymphatic drainage utilises a very light pressure combined with soft pumping movements in the direction of the lymph nodes. The process can take anywhere from 30 minutes with the masseur concentrating on a localised area, to two hours when working on the whole body.

Lymph is a clear, slightly yellow fluid that flows around your body, carrying white blood cells and antibodies to your tissues and organs (See Lymphatic System). These are essential to your immune system and help you fight infection. Your lymphatic system's job is to flush all the toxins away, and keep you healthy. Lymphatic drainage massage boosts the flow of lymph around your body, refreshing your immune system and flushing out toxins.

Lymphatic drainage massage is especially useful for individuals who seem to suffer regularly from common illnesses like colds and flu. It is also recommended for people who lead sedentary lifestyles, or those who want to reduce puffiness or swelling. It has been cited as having a positive effect on problem skin, cellulite, dysfunctional respiratory systems and people with low energy.

Because lymph is so key to keeping your immune system working properly, improving its flow and drainage around the body is good for you in lots of ways. Lymphatic drainage massage boosts the immune system so, as well as helping the body ward off illness, treatment can facilitate general feelings of health and vitality. It also has a positive physical effect, improving the appearance of the skin and reducing puffiness caused by water retention, poor circulation or pregnancy. As with other massage, it can help with pain from fractures and sprains and rheumatism, and it promotes the body’s own healing mechanisms. Lymphatic drainage massage utilises very light pressure. Lymphatic drainage massage can have a powerful effect on your general health:

  • Lymphatic drainage massage can help your body fight infection and speed up healing and recovery from illness

  • Lymphatic drainage massage reduces water retention

  • Lymphatic drainage massage can boost weight loss

  • Manual lymphatic drainage is used in the treatment of lymphoedema

Lymphatic drainage massage can improve your skin texture by:

  • reducing swelling, puffiness and blotches

  • giving you clean healthy pores

  • speeding up healing in scar tissue, so it can, for example, improve the appearance of stretch marks

Lymphatic drainage should not be used by people with acute inflammation, malignant tumours, thrombosis or major heart problems. Because of its effect on the immune system, people with cancer, diabetes, thyroid or kidney problems, asthma or epilepsy should seek medical advice before treatment. It is also advisable that women do not undergo lymphatic drainage while menstruating.

You should always tell your therapist in advance if you:

  • are, or think you might be, pregnant

  • have any medical conditions or are receiving any treatment or medication

  • have recently had an injury or operation

  • are allergic to anything, particularly skin allergies

  • have any broken skin or sores on your scalp as this may affect the kind of treatment you receive.

Before any massage treatment, avoid large meals or alcohol. It's also a good idea to drink plenty of water, which will help your body to flush the toxins out of your body.

Lymphatic drainage is about flushing out your system; you can do this every day by drinking plenty of water.

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