Lymphatic therapy – also called Manual Lymphatic Drainage – is a specialized treatment, which helps increase your body’s flow of lymphatic fluid with light, rhythmical skin movements.
Trained lymphatic therapists around the world are using it to help clients with everything from quicker recovery from surgery to easing headache pain.
To find out more about what makes lymphatic therapy such a beneficial treatment, we spoke with Carol Roine, St. George Care -spa’s very own Vodder certified lymphedema therapist.
What is your lymphatic system?
Your lymphatic system is very important – it helps your body get rid of toxins and other unwanted materials.
Like your blood system, your lymphatic system is a network of vessels. These vessels connect with the spleen and hundreds of lymph nodes, which can be found in the groin, neck, sternum, and under the arms.
Lymphatic fluid, or lymph, is a clear fluid containing white blood cells that circulates through these vessels, collecting toxins and taking them to the nodes for destruction.
- What your lymphatic system does is help to take away the toxins that your cells don’t need anymore, so they expel the toxins back into your interstitial tissues, Carol says.
Your lymphatic system needs one thing: movement.
The lymphatic system picks up these toxins, flows it through the vessels, filters it through the lymph nodes, makes it protein-rich again and puts it back into the blood stream.
- Your lymphatic system isn’t on a loop like your blood system. It’s moved by digestion, by walking, by running – by movement. It needs movement in order for it to work properly, Carol tells.
What is lymphatic therapy?
That’s where Manual Lymphatic Drainage comes in. Because the lymphatic system’s network of vessels is located near the surface of your skin, a trained therapist can increase lymph flow through a series of skin movements.
These movements are not a massage – there’s no pressure or manipulation of fascia or muscles involved – but rather, light and rhythmical movements on the surface of the skin.
- If you think about fish in a fish tank, the environment has to have oxygen and you have to clean the water in order for the fish to stay alive. If you stop cleaning the water and you don’t give it any more oxygen, fish start to get sick, Carol says.
- It’s the same with our cells. If you’re not cleaning the environment that they live in, they will eventually get sick. This is what Manual Lymphatic Drainage does. It helps increase the cleansing of our body and our body’s toxins.
What are the benefits of lymphatic therapy?
Lymphatic therapy doesn’t just help to remove toxins and other materials from your body – it can also help to improve the healing process.
Many doctors, for example, recommend lymphatic therapy both pre- and post-surgery to minimize risks, alleviate edema and improve recovery time.
How? Well, the rhythmical motion of the treatment activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps put your body into what is called a parasympathetic state. The parasympathetic state occurs when your body is at rest – for example, during sleep – and begins to recover and repair itself.
Stress, headache, pregnancy pains or sleep issues?
What’s more, lymphatic therapy can be beneficial even for those whose bodies don’t necessarily need extra healing.
The parasympathetic state that it induces is also great for stress-relief, headaches, sinus problems, pregnancy pains, and sleep issues.
Many fans of the treatment also find that it improves facial skin integrity and gives a nice healthy glow.
Photos: Esa Laukkanen