wellness

TRIED AND TESTED: I had my lymph nodes stroked for 90 minutes in a lymphatic drainage massage.

Mamamia’s Tried and Tested series drops every Monday and is your weekly review of the latest to hit our desks in beauty, health and wellness. You won’t find any #sponsored content here, just honest, relatable and independent advice. This week, Senior Lifestyle Writer Amy Clark road tested a lymphatic drainage massage.

About a month ago, I decided to go get my lymph nodes stimulated for an hour and a half.

There, in the dimly lit room that smelt like what I’d describe as ‘spa’, a lovely lady stroked all my nodes and glands to the nondescript sound of xylophones and nature.

The whole thing was so relaxing, I legitimately fell asleep. And, if we’re being honest here, I also let the tiniest of farts slip.

“Happens all the time,” the very serene Spa Bannisters Port Stephens massage therapist murmured while lightly tickling the side of my neck…

Look, I’ll acknowledge this is all sounding a bit weird and not at all what you signed up for, but stick with me as I tell you more about what getting a lymphatic drainage massage is really like.

Speaking of massages, here’s a few quick and easy neck and shoulder exercises you can do at work courtesy of Sam Wood. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

Lymphatic, who? Drainage… what?

Here’s everything you need to know about lymphatic drainage massage and if you should get one.

What is lymphatic drainage massage and how much does it cost?

On a basic level, lymphatic drainage massage is a very specific massage technique designed to, as I mentioned before with zero context, stimulate your lymph nodes and lymphatic system.

What are lymph nodes and the lymphatic system? Let’s quickly rewind.

Think of the lymphatic system as your body’s waterway and lymph nodes as filters. Their job is to get rid of any toxins in the ‘water’ flowing through your system called lymph fluid. Our lymphatic system usually does a pretty good job of circulating lymph fluid around the body and filtering out the gunk, but some circumstances like illness, taking certain medications and not living your best life can cause it to build up and remain stagnant in the body. This is where lymphatic drainage massage can help.

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Without getting too technical, lymphatic drainage massage wakes up your lymph nodes to filter the crap hanging out in your lymph fluid so you can pee them out.

The massage technique is very light and relaxing, and uses a combination of little, gentle strokes and a deeper ‘pumping’ action over the main parts of the lymphatic system – the neck, armpits, chest, abdomen and the upper legs.

Lymphatic drainage massage can be performed by a massage therapist trained in the correct technique and is commonly available at physiotherapy, remedial massage and complementary medicine clinics. Some spas may offer lymphatic drainage massage depending on the qualifications of their staff.

You can get shorter lymphatic drainage massages on specific areas (e.g. the legs or face), but a full body treatment takes up to 90 minutes and costs upwards of $120-$145.

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Here's me making the massage therapist wait while I take a selfie. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

Lymphatic drainage massage benefits.

For the average Joe, sluggishness, congestion, acne, stiffness, headaches, feeling run down, puffiness and lymphoedema (excessive swelling) are all signs your lymphatic system could do with some draining. Like me, you can thank your sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, increased stress and poor nutrition for that.

Lymphatic drainage massage benefits will differ depending on each individual, but may include:

  • Better circulation.
  • Higher immunity.
  • More energy.
  • Less swelling.
  • Better skin, particularly in regards to acne, congestion and puffiness.
  • Alleviated pain associated with swelling and joint inflammation.
  • Can aid swelling after injury or surgery.

There are some people who cannot have lymphatic drainage, so always consult your GP before making a massage appointment.

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What does lymphatic drainage massage feel like?

So, what is a lymphatic drainage massage actually like?

If you're a fan of hardcore massages where someone basically elbows you in the back for an hour, a lymphatic drainage massage feels like being stroked by a fluttery cloud in comparison. It's not painful at all and very, very relaxing. Accidentally farting while dozing off relaxing.

The massage covers the whole body from your feet right up to your scalp. And if you don't like being touched, this isn't for you because I'd describe the massage technique as feeling like you're being stroked in a non-creepy way by more than one set of hands.

After my lymphatic drainage massage.

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I don't mean to alarm you, but.... my eyes post-drainage are... hectic. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

How you'll feel after your lymphatic drainage massage is entirely individual and will be different for everyone. Personally, I felt like shit afterwards.

The most noticeable thing following my session was just how badly I needed to pee. I opted to get a facial tacked onto the end of my massage. I would not recommend this unless you enjoy the feeling of your kidneys bursting.

My session finished around 4pm in the afternoon and by the time dinner came around, I was completely exhausted and dehydrated, which is why they'll tell you to drink up and get some rest after a lymphatic drainage treatment.

I went to bed expecting to wake up as the best version of myself. Instead, I opened my eyes and felt like I'd been hit by a truck – fever, sore throat, raised glands, the whole shebang. That said, I reckon this was because the massage got my lymphatic system (which is linked to the immune system) moving, bringing a stubborn, lingering sickness to the surface.

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Another fun fact: your skin can get worse after a lymphatic drainage massage before it gets better. I certainly experienced this. I did notice my skin looked quite glowy about a week after my massage. Only my lymph nodes know whether this was related or not.

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This glow might have nothing to do with lymphatic drainage but I'll take it. Image: Supplied/Amy Clark.

Lymphatic drainage massage verdict.

Honestly, it's really hard (and plain irresponsible) to definitively say whether one 90-minute lymphatic drainage massage cured all my minor life problems.

We all know nothing beats doing the fun things consistently: regular exercise, a healthy diet, staying away from booze and ciggies, maintaining relationships and looking after your mental health.

But as someone who quite enjoys getting a monthly massage, I'd definitely consider making one of those a lymphatic drainage massage a couple of times a year.

Even if it is just for the nap.

This is one woman's experience and should not be substituted for professional, personalised advice. If you're thinking about trying lymphatic drainage massage, please consult your GP or medical professional. The writer was gifted this treatment courtesy of Spa Bannisters Port Stephens.

Have you tried a lymphatic drainage massage? Tell us what you thought below!

Mamamia's Tried and Tested series drops every Monday. Want us to trial and review a product or treatment you've seen everywhere? Easy, just send an email to [email protected] 

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