Tara Kachroo

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

I recently worked on an inner thigh scar on a woman in her 60s which she got from an accident when she was 8 years old. She had hip pain and her legs were always very painful in the morning when she woke. Around the scar was a series of varicose veins, which are a sign of obstructed circulation of fluids. Some of the pain and swelling in this woman’s lower legs were caused by the buildup of fluids in the superficial fascia. Because of this, releasing the scar doesn’t just have an effect on her reflexive stability and joint mobility, but also on venous and lymphatic drainage. With this in mind, we ended the session with 10 minutes of lymphatic drainage massage using a soft brush like the one pictured here.

These brushes are commonly found in pharmacies. I advised her to get a brush and use it lightly and rhythmically, always drawing it toward her heart. Here’s another article on the benefits of lymphatic drainage massage. Here in KW, there are several massage therapists that are trained in this technique. I focus more on reducing obstructions such as scar tissue. Release of built-up lymphatic fluids reduces pain Two weeks later this same client reported to me that she got a brush that day after our session and had been using it daily after her shower on her legs. She was excited to report a great reduction in the pain in her legs when she woke up in the morning. The build-up of lymphatic fluid is commonly called edema. Edema can be caused by dietary issues, as well as tissue injury and obstructions such as scar tissue. This client is enthusiastically dedicated to using the brush for lymphatic drainage regularly in the future as she has experienced how much pain relief it offers her. Lymphatic Drainage Massage is only part of the solution While I am also a proponent of lymphatic drainage massage, more primary than this is the proper functioning of the major lymphatic organs and pathways. These organs include the spleen (which is on the L side of your abdomen near the 9th rib), and the thymus (behind the sternum and just above the heart). It is also really important to make sure that the pathways of drainage are clear of major obstructions such as matted fascia around scar tissue and obstruction of the thoracic duct (which starts from the level of the twelfth thoracic vertebrae (T12) and extends to the root of the neck). Two places I have commonly seen obstructions here are at the level of the first rib and in the aortic hiatus of the diaphragm. When these pathways are blocked symptoms include fatigue, tenderness or soreness through the body, swelling everywhere, but more obviously around the face, neck, ankles and wrists. If you feel “puffy” all the time, this might be a blockage of the lymphatic drainage pathways. For several reasons, dysfunctional breathing patterns can cause issues with the lymphatic system. The first reason is that the thoracic duct passes through the diaphragm and can get pinched when it is tight or not functioning properly. Secondly, lymph does not much itself through the body, breathing and muscular movement pushes it through a series of one-way valves that allow it to continue to flow in the correct direction. For more information on how the diaphragm might affect lymphatic drainage, you can look at this article on the respiratory diaphragm by my mentor Dr. Kathy Dooley.

These brushes are commonly found in pharmacies. I advised her to get a brush and use it lightly and rhythmically, always drawing it toward her heart.  Here’s another article on the benefits of lymphatic drainage massage. Here in KW, there are several massage therapists that are trained in this technique.  I focus more on reducing obstructions such as scar tissue.

Release of built-up lymphatic fluids reduces pain

Two weeks later this same client reported to me that she got a brush that day after our session and had been using it daily after her shower on her legs.  She was excited to report a great reduction in the pain in her legs when she woke up in the morning. The build-up of lymphatic fluid is commonly called edema.  Edema can be caused by dietary issues, as well as tissue injury and obstructions such as scar tissue.  This client is enthusiastically dedicated to using the brush for lymphatic drainage regularly in the future as she has experienced how much pain relief it offers her. 

Lymphatic Drainage Massage is only part of the solution

While I am also a proponent of lymphatic drainage massage, more primary than this is the proper functioning of the major lymphatic organs and pathways. These organs include the spleen (which is on the L side of your abdomen near the 9th rib), and the thymus (behind the sternum and just above the heart).  

It is also really important to make sure that the pathways of drainage are clear of major obstructions such as matted fascia around scar tissue and obstruction of the thoracic duct (which starts from the level of the twelfth thoracic vertebrae (T12) and extends to the root of the neck).  Two places I have commonly seen obstructions here are at the level of the first rib and in the aortic hiatus of the diaphragm. When these pathways are blocked symptoms include fatigue, tenderness or soreness through the body, swelling everywhere, but more obviously around the face, neck, ankles and wrists. If you feel “puffy” all the time, this might be a blockage of the lymphatic drainage pathways.

For several reasons, dysfunctional breathing patterns can cause issues with the lymphatic system.  The first reason is that the thoracic duct passes through the diaphragm and can get pinched when it is tight or not functioning properly. Secondly, lymph does not much itself through the body, breathing and muscular movement pushes it through a series of one-way valves that allow it to continue to flow in the correct direction.  For more information on how the diaphragm might affect lymphatic drainage, you can look at this article on the respiratory diaphragm by my mentor Dr. Kathy Dooley.