Here's What Lymphatic Drainage Massage Really Does

A wellness trend that has captivated audiences, lymphatic drainage can range from simple techniques to the more complex. For instance, dry brushing and rebound jumping are said to spur lymphatic drainage, which touts benefits such as a better mood, heightened immunity, and a decrease in the appearance of cellulite, Vogue notes. But, what does the lymphatic system do?

When you get sick, one indicator of illness are swollen lymph nodes in the neck or other areas of your body. These nodes correspond with your system's ability to fight off infection by removing waste, Marie Claire explains. The system itself is made up of pathways and tissues that remove toxins as well. The substance that travels through the network is called lymph — a liquid supply of white blood cells that combats infection and other pathogens. The system's primary objective revolves around removing this fluid and helping it empty back into the bloodstream while also allowing the cells to maintain an optimal level of fluid. So, this system is a big deal. 

The self-care routine of lymphatic drainage massage aims to bolster this system's ability to remove toxins and do its job. Especially after you've been sick and your body has produced a high level of white blood cells, it may be a good idea to help the lymphatic system guide these cells back into the bloodstream and minimize stagnation. Plus, if you've recently had surgery, these techniques may aid in the lymphatic buildup that can occur afterward, VeryWell Health explains.

Lymphatic drainage massage may help remove toxins

Lymphatic drainage massage involves long upward movements that aim to spur blood flow toward the heart. Generally, these movements start at the lower half of your body around the ankle and work their way up. But, before you start, many professionals recommend pressing on various lymph nodes first to spur drainage throughout the system. Vogue suggests pressing the points just below the collarbones, then moving toward the nodes in the armpits to repeat the same practice. Three pumps should be enough to wake up the lymph.

Lather your body with lotion or oil before you begin your drainage massage and then start gently pulling your skin upward with either your hands or a tool. Similar to gua sha, lymphatic drainage massage often involves an outside instrument that helps get things moving. You can find a wooden paddle or jade roller that shapes to your curves and easily glides over your skin for best results. Traveling from your feet to your arms in upward motions, make about eight strokes on each part of the body, the outlet suggests. Once you're finished, continue to flush and hydrate the system by drinking enough water. 

For best results, try to perform your massage at least a few times a week. Then, it's time to enjoy purported benefits such as better digestion, balanced hormones, clearer skin, and a fortified immune system (via Marie Claire).