Perform Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Dealing with discomfort can be really frustrating. Lymphatic drainage may be able to help you with that. This is a massage technique where you help move fluid through your lymph vessels where extra fluid may have built up your body. This type of massage may help you if you suffer from swelling, tenderness, infections, hormone imbalances, fatigue, lupus, and depression and anxiety.[1] You can go to a massage therapist for this type of massage, but with proper technique and a list of areas to massage, you can perform a lymphatic drainage massage at home.


Adopting Proper Technique

  1. Use a light touch. When you are doing lymphatic massage, you want to make sure that you don’t press too hard. The lymphatic vessels are located right under the skin, so if you press too hard, you are going to go deeper than the vessels. Press down enough so that your fingers are not sliding over your skin, but make sure that you can’t feel anything beneath the skin.[2]
    • You may feel like this is too light, especially if you are used to deeper tissue massages.
  2. Stretch the skin instead of moving along it. You may be used to giving or receiving massages where you glide along the skin. A lymphatic massage needs to stimulate the lymphatic vessels, which are elastic and attached to the skin. You need to lightly stretch your skin to massage them.[3]
  3. Massage with the normal lymph flow. The direction of your stretch of the skin is important. You should stretch the skin in the direction that the lymph flows naturally. You want to help stimulate the natural flow. If you stretch the skin the wrong way, you are doing nothing. The lymph flow goes towards your trunk and heart.[4]
    • Make sure to take your fingers off the skin after each stretch. If you move your fingers back and forth, you are just moving the lymph and not helping to drain it.
  4. Use the correct rhythm. As you massage the lymph vessels, you should go slow. The normal rhythm of their flow is slow, so try to take around three seconds to perform each stretch of the skin. Release and wait for a few seconds before beginning again.[2]

Massaging Your Head and Neck

  1. Get in a comfortable position. Lymphatic massage works best if you are relaxed. Start in a room that is quiet and free from distraction. Get into a position that is comfortable for you. Many people lie on their backs. Some people sit up and others stand. Choose what works for you since this is supposed to help you feel better.[3]
    • You may want to experiment with different positions to see what works for you.
  2. Begin with deep breathing. Before you start your massage, spend a few moments relaxing. You want to get your mind and body relaxed to help the massage be as effective as possible. Take around five deep breaths. Inhale slowly, hold for a moment, then exhale slowly. Try to keep up this slow, steady breathing through the massage. Remember, focus on getting to a calm state.[3]
  3. Start with your collarbone. You want to start at the top of your body and go down. Start by massaging both sides of your neck. You can do one side at the time, or you can cross your arms and massage both sides at the same time. Place the pads of the second and third fingers on the outer edge of your neck, just above the collarbone. Shrug your shoulders. Your fingers should be in the dip.[5]
    • Stretch the skin gently with light pressure towards the sternum. The stretch should last for three seconds. Keep the fingers above the collarbone.
    • Repeat 5 to 15 times.
  4. Massage the side of the neck. Next, you should massage the side and back of your neck. Once again, you can do one side at a time or together. Position your palms flat against the side of your neck, right under your ears. Stretch the skin back and down, towards the back of your body. Repeat 10 times.[5]
  5. Stretch the back of the neck. Gently rest your fingers on the back of your neck. They should be underneath your hairline and on each side of the neck. Using gently pressure, stretch the skin downwards towards your shoulders. Release. Repeat 10 times.[6]
    • You can do the same stretch on the front of your neck.

Moving to Your Body

  1. Massage your underarm. Hold your arm in a comfortable position. Move it away from your body so your underarm is exposed. Position your fingers under your arm. Stretch the skin up and in, towards your chin. Do this between 5 to 10 times.[7]
    • Make sure to repeat on the other side of your body.
  2. Move on to the hip. Keep your arm lifted. Start low on the outside of your hip. Use your fingers to stretch the skin upwards towards the armpit. After stretching the skin at the hipbone, move your hand higher and repeat. Do this three times along the side of your body.[7]
    • Repeat around 10 times.
  3. Address your abdomen. Make sure your abdomen muscles are relaxed before performing this massage. Hold the tips of your fingers in the middle of your belly, between the ribcage and navel. Your hand should not touch your skin. Massage in towards the middle and up towards the heart. Use a slightly harder touch here, but the same rhythm.[5]
    • Next, place both hands on the V of your hips. Press in towards the middle and upwards towards your heart.
    • Repeat each massage 5 to 10 times.
  4. Massage the leg. Start at the top of the leg and move all the way down with the stretches. Use both hands, one on the back of the leg and the other on the inside of the leg. Move the hands towards each other and up as you stretch the skin. Release. Move your hands lower on your leg and repeat the stretch.[8]
    • Move all the down to your calves, but skip the knee when you get to it.
  5. Massage the knee. Position your fingers behind your knee. Stretch the skin upward, towards your thigh. Release. Repeat this 10 times.[5]

Sources and Citations

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