A massage menu can carry a host of options, and one that appears to be gaining traction is targeted toward lymph drainage.
DeAnn Larson has been a massage therapist for 18 years and operates Plymouth-based wellness center Tree of Life Therapeutic Massage. We turned to Larson to learn more about lymph drainage massage, one of the many types of massages offered at Tree of Life.
What does a session entail?
The process is slow, light, rhythmic motions moving lymph fluid into areas of the body, so that they can be “dumped” or drained. Our lymph system does not have a pump or a way for it to move out the tissue on its own except for brisk walking, where your legs can work as the pump to move the lymph out of the system.
What is lymph?
Lymph, which mainly contains white blood cells, carries digested/absorbed fat from the intestine and drains excess fluid from extracellular space back into blood and removes bacteria from the body.
How long is the massage, and
how do clients prepare for it?
The lymph drainage massage is one to one and a half hours. Some people want an overall lymph drainage session just for maintaining a healthy lymph system, and that is [a] full body [massage] and recommended for one and a half hours. If someone has had surgery and the lymph system has been compromised in a particular area, the session will be focused on the surgery area, removing excess fluid in the area of surgery.
What are the benefits?
… You can remove toxins and build up in the tissue to reduce swelling and inflammation.
How do we know if we need this type of massage?
Sometimes people just feel sluggish and tired. [Consider the option] if you have recently gotten over sickness and can’t kick the tired or drained feeling [or] if you have had surgery and have excess swelling in certain areas that have been confirmed to have no infection ... Unless you are very active, taking brisk walks or runs on a regular basis, lymph drainage is a good idea to have done periodically.
How often should it be performed?
If you are recovering from surgery and working to reduce fluid build-up, you will need to come in on a regular basis for several weeks—one to two times a week. If you are doing lymph drainage for overall health reasons, you would come every three to six months.
Are there risks involved?
Yes, there are contraindications to doing lymph drainage because we are essentially moving waste products and toxins around the body. We are not able to work on people with congestive heart failure, deep vein thrombosis or a history of it, unexplained or untreated pain and swelling or a fever or any other symptom, which indicates you are unwell and possibly contagious. A doctor’s referral is needed for those with cancer, diabetes, kidney disease or lymphedema.
What about client feedback?
They generally have great results. Because it is such a light touch massage, they don’t feel like they would after a deep tissue massage, but they say they feel lighter in general. Sometimes, it takes several sessions to notice a large reduction of swelling.
Tree of Life Therapeutic Massage,
17610 19th Ave. N. #8; 763.476.0202
Tree of Life Therapeutic Massage