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Control your body fluid with Lymphatic Drainage Massage (LDM)

Our body is formed with variety of elements and out of all, water; the body fluid takes up highest percentage of the body composition. About more than half of the body weight is fluid, and it is stored in our soft tissue, organs or vessels. And the system that is in charge of the body fluid is called the lymphatic system.

What is lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is part of the immune and circulatory system. Just like cardiovascular veins and arteries, the lymphatic system spreads every bit of our body. The lymphatic system is combined with lymph vessels, lymph nodes, lymphocytes and organs; bone marrow, thymus gland, tonsils and adenoid, spleen, appendix.

The lymphatic system’s function includes;

  • Regulates the body fluid

  • Transports immune cells through our body

  • Drains excess body waste, such as, damaged cells, cancer cells, bacteria, viruses, protein, fats, etc.

  • Defending our body from infection and disease

Conditions and symptoms of malfunction of lymphatic system
  • Blockage; such as lymphoedema. Due to medical condition, injury or environmental factors causes blockage of the lymphatic system and often it leads to fluid buildup in the area. E.g. Acute injury, swollen legs due to medical condition, post cancer treatment. Symptoms can be feeling of tightness, limited movement, heaviness and of course, the swelling of the site. If the condition is not severe, lymphoedema can easily improve and treated non-medically, with lymphatic drainage massage, home remedy and change of habits in daily life.

  • Inflammation & infection; such as lymphadenopathy, lymphadenitis, lymphangitis, tonsilitis. These are infections and inflammations of the lymphatic system itself such as the lymph nodes, vessels, and organs, caused by bacteria and virus. For these conditions, it is not safe to move the infected fluid around the body, therefore, massage or any fluid moving therapy isn’t recommended but better to see a doctor to get tested for the cause and reduce the infection.

  • Congenital or Genetic condition; such as lymphangioma, autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome, lymphangioleiomyomatosis, intestinal lymphangiectasia. These are malfunctioning lymphatic system which occurs as genetic and people are born with. From loss of lymph tissue, high lymphocytes, high cell growth, to malformation in the lymphatic system. These condition also needs to be tested by professionals and get specific treatment.

  • Cancer; such as lymphoma. Lymphoma is a form of cancer that starts in a lymphocyte which travels in the lymphatic system. Symptoms are swelling of the face and neck, lump in lymph node sites, excessive sweating at night, fever, itchiness, weakness and more. Often these type and other lymphatic effected cancer patients goes through lymph nodes removal operation alongside with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatment. Then often end up having lymphoedema, the blockage of lymphatic system due to loss of the node/s.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage (LDM)

Lymphatic drainage massage (LDM) is exactly as it sound, draining excessive fluid from our body by massaging the lymphatic system. It is not the most popular technique (in personal experience), however, it is one of the most lifestyle effecting treatment for my client for those who needs it.

As we're trying to target the lymphatic system, it is not like the regular remedial massage that targets muscular or myofasia soft tissues such as deep tissue, trigger point massage. LDM is a gentle, light rhythmical technique. Starting by activating the lymph nodes of the problematic area, and then stretching the skin level to guide and move the excessive fluid out of the body. As it seem like we’re doing nothing much but you can measure the improvement by how much fluid has been drained, and by getting it few sessions, clients feel improvement for lot longer.

It is suitable for everyone, except if you have bacterial or viral infection, cancer (especially lymphoma), cold or fever, it is a complete red flag and contraindication for this treatment. But other than those conditions, for clear inflammation in sinus, swollen limbs or any part of the body due to an acute injury or non-contraindicating conditions, it will help to reduce swelling and also the symptoms of discomfort, tightness and limited range of motion caused by the swelling.

Daily tips to improve your lymphatic system
  • Self LDM at home: You can easily do self-massage at home to improve the lymph fluid circulation. First, know your lymph node location then activate the node that you want to drain the fluid to by using light pressure and circular motion. Feeling those lumpy, full nodes. After activating the node/s, continue to use light pressure and stretch the swollen limb or surface that you want to drain, towards the activated nodes. You can do it for 5 to 10 minutes to really get it flowing. If the area is too large or cannot be reached, always see the trained RM therapist or specially trained therapist that can treat for you.

  • Self LD taping: lymphatic drainage taping is often used for severe swelling. It’s good for acute injury swollen site, ankles and calf swelling. Using sports/K-tape, which stretches, making multiple strips from the regular tape and laying it down on the swollen area the stretching 50-70% towards the lymph nodes site. You can leave it on for 3-5 days to continue to drain excess fluid even after the drainage massage.

  • Using gravity: For ankle and calf swellings, simply putting the legs against wall and laying on your back helps to circulate fluid away using gravity.

  • Dry brush: Good for limb swelling, such as arms and legs. By using the body brush, start the stroke from the end of the limb and towards the central; into armpit, groin.

  • Increase hydrating fluid intake (Keep good balance of salt & water): Of course increasing hydrating fluid intake will increase our body to regulate and remove excess waste frequently which will help to circulate overall system. But to keep healthy balance of fluid, it is also important to take enough salt in our diet. Healthy amount of salt will improve fluid absorption to our cell and remove the excess.

  • Wearing loose clothing: Our tight clothing will limit the circulation, such as tight bras with wire, underwear that digs into groin. Check if you see any marks after taking off your cloth, consider trying loose clothing and help your body fluid to circulate better.

  • Deep thorax breathing: When you wake up, while still lying in bed, start your day with deep thorax breathing. It is a deep breathing using all the lung and feeling deep in your diaphragm. It will activate deep thorax lymph nodes and improve not just the circulation but clear your mind and start the day fresh!

Try these tips to improve your health, immune system and flush excess fluid. If still having difficulty, seek a professionally trained RMT or Lymphatic drainage specialist that will help you.

Written by Seonkyo Kim; Dip. RMT



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