Lymphatic drainage massage has become a buzzword. Countless celebrities and social media users are touting its benefits, especially for its toning and sculpting benefits to the body. While there are several practitioners who can perform this specialized massage, it can also be done in the comfort of one’s home.
How Is It Performed At Home?
When simple lymphatic drainage is self-performed, it can be done sitting, standing, or lying down in a comfortable position. Below are some tips to keep in mind while the massage is being done:
- Hands should remain relaxed.
- Do not press into the skin. Gentle pressure is to be used.
- Don’t massage areas of the body that are swollen or infected.
- Do not massage any areas that have been treated for cancer.
- The massage should not cause any pain or reddening of the skin.
- Don’t use any lotions or oils, simply use your hands.
- Make sure to drink extra water after the massage. Two-four glasses after each session are suggested to help the lymphatic system move fluid and waste.
According to Rebecca Faria, a licensed lymphatic drainage specialist and founder of Detox By Rebecca, she suggests the following steps for self-performed simple lymphatic drainage massage:
For the abdomen:
- First, you have to open your lymph nodes. To do this, Faria says to place both of your thumbs on your abdomen with your fingers pointing down, where your lymph nodes are located. Press smoothly around five times.
- Then, put one hand over the other and make circular, clockwise movements around your abdomen.
- Next, Faria says to place both of your hands on your stomach with your thumbs pointing up so that your pinky finger touches your belly. "Make consecutive up-and-down movements, from your stomach to your lymph nodes," she says.
- Then, turn to one side of your body and, using both hands, make pushing movements from the side towards the lymph nodes.
- Repeat on the other side of your body.
- Lastly, Faria says that as you've moved the water and toxins from the sides of your body to the front of it, you then need to repeat the first steps to finish draining them to the lymph nodes. "Each step should be repeated at least 15 times."
For the arms:
- First, Faria says you have to stimulate the lymph nodes on the armpit region, near the elbows on the biceps side, and on the wrist. "Using your fingers, point them toward the back, and press smoothly around five times.
- From there, move to your upper arm. "Divide the upper arm into sections based on your hand width," she says. Then, she says to slide your hands down from the elbow to the armpit region. "Remember to always massage in an upward direction," she points out. Repeat this at least 15 times.
- To clear your elbow, Faria says to place your hand at the bend of the elbow, with your palm on the elbow crease. From there, gently stretch the skin upward in a stroking motion, and repeat at least 15 times.
- When working on your forearm, she says to start at the wrist and gently stretch the skin upward toward the elbow. Repeat at least 15 times.
- "Finally, take the pads of your fingers and put some pressure between the finger bones to get that fluid moving to the wrist," Faria concludes.
For the legs:
- First, place your feet up on a chair.
- "You need to open the lymph nodes on your groin — press your hands into it and smooth it out," says Faria. Do this five times.
- Then, take your favorite body oil and apply it to your legs. Do this while moving the oil from the bottoms of your legs upward.
- "Then, mentally split your thighs into two parts," says Faria. "Grab the first 'half' of your leg with your fingers by wrapping them around your thighs and pulling them up toward the lymph nodes."
- Do the same process on the other half.
- To move the water and toxins from the outer thighs to the inner thighs, do the same pulling motions from the sides inward.
- Repeat step three.
- "After that, open the second lymph area under your knees. Stretch your leg on the chair and press onto the back of your knee five times, then, using both hands, make those pulling movements from the front part of your knee toward the back."
- Repeat what you did on your thighs on your calves. Repeat at least 20 times.
Stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Hailey Bieber, Rebel Wilson, and Kim Kardashian are some of the few who turn to lymphatic massage regimens before big events and photo shoots — and for good reason. While this novel treatment is typically performed by a credentialed practitioner, it can also be done by an individual at home with similar results (except in the hard-to-reach areas).
The key, like many aesthetic and wellness therapies, is consistency. Many lymphatic drainage practitioners suggest two to three sessions a week for six weeks to see the full benefits. After that, a maintenance schedule can be maintained at home and in conjunction with a practitioner. Just make sure you drink plenty of water before and after treatments to help the body move lymphatic fluid through the body.