How Manual Lymphatic Drainage Relieves Inflammation and Soothes Pain

When you hear the word massage, you likely imagine deep relaxation, calming music, and soothing after-effects. While relaxation is a part of massage treatments, different massage modalities have additional benefits. Did you know that massage treatments can alleviate pain and discomfort and support your immune system? 

One effective massage modality that boosts your immune system is manual lymphatic drainage. This treatment helps heal your lymphatic system, alleviates inflammation, and soothes pain. If you’ve never heard of lymphatic drainage, that’s okay. We’re sharing everything you need to know about this popular treatment. 

What Is Lymphatic Drainage Massage? 

The human immune system is a complex network within our bodies. When our immune systems work properly, they provide a strong defence against illness and injury, keeping us healthy and active. But for many of us, our immune systems work overtime, causing various health issues, such as chronic inflammation. While there are several ways to manage inflammatory conditions, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) massage is a favourite of many clients for its gentle and effective treatment. 

Lymphatic drainage uses a massage technique to relieve swelling and inflammation in the lymphatic system. Swelling and clogging of the lymph system can make you feel tired and achy, impact your digestion, and affect your skin. MLD helps drain the lymph system, improving circulation and helping to alleviate one of the root causes of your symptoms. 

How the Lymphatic System Works

The lymphatic system is one of the circulatory systems in the body. It consists of a network of nodules containing lymph fluid—a clear fluid containing white blood cells that fight off germs, abnormal cells, and foreign substances. To summarize a complex process, your lymph picks up waste in your tissues and carries it away to your lymph nodes. When these nodes clog, it’s difficult for your lymphatic system to clear the waste away. It’s also difficult to clean up your lymph so it can cycle through the system again. 

What Does Lymphatic Drainage Do? 

MLD gently targets the lymphatic system with massage movements to loosen up the system and stimulate drainage. When your registered massage therapist stimulates your lymph nodes, they’re coaxing the nodes into draining. Once the nodes can drain, they can clean the lymph collected inside. 

This process kickstarts the circulation of helpful lymph in your body. When lymph follows its natural flow, it can better target areas of inflammation in your body. In turn, less inflammation also leads to less discomfort for you. 

What to Expect During Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage uses a technique of subtle manual maneuvers along the lymphatic system. The practitioner will use the flat of their hands and fingers to follow the flow of the lymph system and create wave-like movements to encourage drainage. Because the lymphatic system is a circulatory system—meaning it moves naturally through your body—the practitioner will follow the flow and rhythm of the lymph, assessing for the best drainage pathway. 

What Conditions Does Manual Lymphatic Drainage Benefit?

Many health conditions can cause inflammation. Here is a sample list of conditions that can benefit from MLD massage. 

  • Lymphedema
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lipedema
  • Chronic Venus Insufficiency

Other Treatments that Support Manual Lymphatic Drainage 

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is a non-invasive, relaxing treatment that pairs well with LMD massage. Exposure to low levels of red light helps to treat common health concerns, such as muscle tension, inflammation, joint pain, anxiety, and stress. You’ll also notice benefits to your skin and reduced signs of aging from red light therapy. 

Here at Urban Massage and Wellness, we use a medical-grade LightCareRx machine to provide safe, rejuvenating red light treatments for our clients. Not only will you be treating your inflammation and supporting drainage of your lymphatic system, but you’ll also be supporting your immune system. 

Infrared Sauna

A relaxing way to finish your lymphatic drainage massage is to book a session in our infrared sauna. The relaxing heat of the sauna helps to stimulate circulation, makes you sweat, and helps purify your skin. Our saunas have colour therapy options built-in, so you can personalize your session to fit your mood.  

Frequently Asked Questions About LMD

How long is a manual lymphatic drainage treatment?

The length of your appointment will depend on your individual needs and the practitioner. Your appointment can range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. Clients will often pair manual lymphatic drainage with other services, such as a red light therapy session or an infrared sauna. 

What are the symptoms of poor lymphatic drainage?

Swelling that comes and goes from an area of your body close to your lymph system is a common sign of poor lymphatic drainage. You might feel discomfort, tightness of skin, or clothes that aren’t fitting right. Inflammation, tiredness, and discomfort are also symptoms. 

What do I need to know before lymphatic drainage?

It’s a good idea to drink water before your lymphatic drainage massage treatment. Arriving hydrated makes it easier to stimulate circulation in the lymphatic system. We also want you to feel relaxed during the appointment. 

What not to do after lymphatic drainage?

We recommend wearing loose-fitting clothing to encourage the circulation of your lymph and drinking lots of water to keep your circulation moving. Both caffeine and alcohol have negative effects on the lymph system, so it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours and reduce your caffeine intake. 

Is manual lymphatic drainage painful?

No, manual lymphatic drainage is a gentle, soothing massage technique applied by our practitioners with the palms of their hands. 

Do I have to undress for lymphatic drainage?

Although manual lymphatic drainage can be done while you’re fully clothed, we do recommend a level of undress to access your areas of concern. If you choose to remain clothed, we suggest wearing loose clothing that doesn’t constrict your body around your lymph areas. Loose-fitting clothes and/or bare skin also make it easier for our practitioners to apply the treatment. 

Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage in St. Albert

Are you experiencing discomfort or pain due to inflammation? Book an MLD massage treatment with one of our registered massage therapists in St. Albert. Our practitioners are experienced in MLD massage and are proud to provide relief from inflammation and discomfort. Have more questions about MLD? Give our clinic a call, and we’ll be happy to answer your concerns. 

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