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 Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage 

In this guide, we take a look at one of the more specialised massages available at some spas. This one focusses on helping keep your lymphatic system running smoothly.

What is the lymphatic system?

Lymph is a clear fluid that flows just beneath the skin’s surface. This fluid contains white blood cells that help us fight infection. It is the primary job of the lymphatic system to carry this fluid around the body. Additionally, the lymphatic system moves fluid from the organs to the circulatory system and rids the body of waste products. The lymphatic system extends throughout the body in a network of vessels, nodes and organs (including the spleen).

What is manual lymphatic drainage massage?

Lymphatic drainage is a subtle massage treatment aimed at flushing lymph towards the lymph nodes and out of the body. A healthy lymphatic circulation helps reduce the dimply appearance of cellulite and the inflammation caused by a build-up of white blood cells and toxins, which over time can lead to sore joints and other ailments. The lymphatic system is an important part of the body’s immune defence against disease and infection. However, the vessels and nodes don’t have their own pump system, so lymph needs all the help it can get from exercise and manual massage to sweep toxins from the body.

Lymphatic drainage massage technique

In a lymphatic drainage massage, your spa therapist will perform a slow, deliberate, rhythmical pumping movement up the legs and abdomen along the body’s lymph drainage paths. Some say it feels not unlike a caterpillar crawling over the skin! The technique can feel a little tender in certain areas where fatty cells accumulate (e.g. on the thighs, where cellulite appears), but generally it’s a subtle technique.

Best for:

- Kick-starting a detoxification programme

- Combating the dimply appearance of cellulite as part of a healthy lifestyle change

- Boosting your immunity

- Reducing pain and inflammation

Think twice...

…if you prefer a deep massage pressure and want a spa therapist to really work into your muscular knots. If that’s the case, this is not the treatment to choose. Lymphatic drainage massage is very gentle rather than knot-busting. Be aware that you may need a course of treatments to see and feel a difference as part of a healthy lifestyle change.

Did you know?

Marching energetically on the spot is an easy way to kick-start your lymph flow first thing in the morning. Also try jumping up and down on a low-impact rebounder (small trampoline). Conversely, being a couch potato or having a sedentary job is, surprise surprise, a major cause of a sluggish lymphatic system; not to mention a host of longer-term health problems.

Top tip: Body brushing is many an Elemis and ESPA spa therapist’s top tip for getting lymph moving around the body. Read our guide to massage aftercare to find out how to do this most effectively at home between professional lymphatic drainage treatments.

Looking to purchase a lymphatic drainage massage for yourself, a friend or loved one? Check out our spa vouchers page where monetary gift vouchers can be redeemed against treatments at over 500 spas across the UK. Alternatively, you can call our spa experts for more help and advice on this, or any other spa treatment.

Return to SpaSeekers’ Spa Treatments Guide

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