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The Lymphatic System may be one of the less understood systems in our body. Many of us have heard of it in reference to being sick (swollen lymph glands in the neck, armpits, or groin) and how we need a healthy immune system to ward off colds, infections, diseases, etc, but do you know its many other functions throughout our entire body?


The Lymphatic System is a complex system made up primarily of lymph vessels and lymph nodes. The lymph is a colorless fluid that is the waste disposal system of the tissues and the lymph nodes are the battlefields in the body where most infections are fought. It works to maintain healthy immunity, drain stagnant fluids, regenerate tissues and detoxify the body by filtering out foreign substances and toxins. “Sluggishness” in the lymphatic pathways can affect your ability to concentrate and make you feel vague and ‘foggy headed’, disorientated and tired, and experience a feeling of ‘unwellness’ without knowing why.

Understanding the importance of the lymph system may be of special interest to everyday people and athletes as we regularly sustain injuries. When we injure our soft tissues (tendons, ligaments, muscles, bursa) fluid collects in the small spaces that surround the damaged tissue, this fluid is referred to as swelling or edema. This is part of the natural healing process as the body works to bring nutrient-rich fluid to the injured tissue for repair. Recovery time can be decreased dramatically the quicker we can move the old, stagnant fluid out and flood the tissue with fresh nourishment for regeneration.

The Lymphatic System does not have a pump like our Circulatory System does (where the heart creates a beat that helps push and pump the blood around our body). Instead, the Lymph System requires daily movement of the body (especially our muscular system), and proper breathing, in order to move lymph through the lymphatic vessels to pass it through the filters in our lymph nodes.


Lymphatic Drainage massage is a light whole-body massage treatment that targets the lymphatic system directly beneath the skin. By using gentle massage techniques such as pumping or rotary movements in the correct directions lymph flow is encouraged in the body and this massage helps the detoxification process of the body by aiding the lymph system to eliminate waste material.

In Lymphatic Massage sessions, it is typical to see a marked change from the beginning to the end of a session as the fluid that was formerly “sluggish” is moving without restriction, allowing joints to move more freely and swelling to decrease.  Remedial massage will also tend to enhance lymphatic drainage to some degree, but not as effective as a specific Lymphatic Massage.

By performing a Lymphatic Drainage massage correctly it can stimulate the Lymphatic System and increase the volume of lymph flow by as much as 20 times, therefore reducing recovery time.


  • Following traumatic sports or day-to-day injuries
  • Increased recovery post events
  • Post-surgical conditions (especially, knee, hip replacements, and back surgery)
  • Regeneration of tissues ( eg from burns,  post-surgical scarring )
  • To enhance detoxification of the body if you have feelings of “sluggishness”
  • Edema during pregnancy
  • Reduction in symptoms of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia
  • Deep relaxation to aid insomnia, stress, depression, and loss of vitality
  • Immune System stimulation and support


Exercise or activity (doing things you love while you are in motion) is critical to keeping your lymph system open and flowing. When your muscles are moving this also helps move and pump the lymph within its vessels. Walking, running, swimming, bike riding, yoga, etc, stretching and strength training are great ways to keep the lymph flowing. Dancing with lots of up and down movement or rebounding is particularly helpful because the vertical motion of exercise opens and closes the one-way valves that comprise the lymphatic system and can increase lymph flow by up to 15-30 times.


  • Deep breathing

Deep breathing is very important. Proper movements of air through the lungs also help move and pump fluid through the Lymphatic System while providing it with fresh oxygen. Becoming conscious of your breathing at times throughout the day and getting out of the habit of shallow, upper chest breathing. GCPSH Physio can help review your breathing technique if you have trouble differentiating upper versus lower chest versus basal breathing techniques. 

  • Dry brushing

Dry brushing self-massage helps to boost slower than average lymph systems. Do this by starting on your arms or legs, brushing lightly with light to medium pressure across your skin toward your heart with long strokes, and do this for around 5 mins all over your body before going into the shower.

If you are feeling sluggish, have cloudy thought patterns, or are experiencing regular colds and infections, then perhaps it would be worth visiting to schedule a Lymphatic Drainage Massage or call 517-599-0225 for an appointment.  You should notice a difference in a very short period of time.

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