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When the lymphatic system isn't working optimally, you can develop edema, or swelling from trapped fluid in bodily tissues. To counteract this condition, you may want to look into lymphatic drainage massage. During this type of massage, a therapist gently manipulates different areas to improve sluggish lymph flow and blocked lymph nodes so that the edema diminishes. Lymphatic drainage massages may also be helpful for people with chronic conditions, like fibromyalgia or arthritis, since this kind of massage can reduce pain and boost the immune system.
Lymphatic drainage massages involve gentler techniques compared to deep tissue massage, but you still may be temporarily sore after a session after tissues are worked. Here are three tips to aid in your recovery.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, dehydration can increase the symptoms of edema. While lymph is made up of proteins, minerals, and white blood cells, it is mainly made up of water; so if you are dehydrated, lymph can become sluggish and have a harder time circulating effectively through lymphatic vessels. Staying hydrated both before and after your massage can help improve the effects of lymphatic drainage. While lymphatic drainage isn't as deep as other massage techniques, it's important to drink water before and after your session so that your muscles are properly hydrated. If your muscles are dehydrated, they will be less pliable during the massage, and you may be more likely to experience soreness after your session.
While you may have a health condition that precludes you from hard physical activity, talk with your doctor about different stretching exercises that you can do. Just like staying hydrated, stretching is a great way to recover after a massage since it can mitigate inflammation and temporary soreness. Depending on your medical condition, you may only be able to get lymphatic drainage massages once a week or once a month, so stretching can help you extend the benefits between appointments. Stretches don't have to be complicated or strenuous—any kind of stretching that improves range of motion can help to promote lymph fluid. Stretches like neck rolls, ankle pumps, hip abductions, and shoulder shrugs are great at improving lymph flow.
Make Sure You Get a Good Rest
Like other massage modalities, lymphatic drainage is very relaxing, and a patient may feel sleepy afterwards. Massage therapy increases hormones like serotonin and melatonin, which help to regulate the circadian rhythm and can cause sleepiness. Some people may be caught off guard by how tired they are after a massage, so it's a good idea to schedule an appointment on a less busy day where you will be able to get a good rest afterward. Since the manual movements of lymphatic drainage can increase metabolic waste and the flow of white blood cells, some people may experience temporary headaches or nausea after treatment if they overdo physical activity instead of resting.
In short, staying resting, staying hydrated, and stretching are all helpful ways to recover after a lymphatic drainage massage. For more information, contact a lymphatic drainage massage therapist near you.