lymphatic drainage massage

The Science Behind Lymphatic Drainage Massage: How It Works and Why It’s Effective

Looking for a way to reduce stress, swelling, or acne while promoting healing and your immune system? Lymphatic drainage massage is gaining more popularity among the health community for its many benefits and simple, gentle treatment style. 

Many people associate getting a massage with a day at the spa and having it geared exclusively toward relaxation and stress relief. But the potential health benefits of lymph drainage massage have made it a favored form of massage therapy. This specialized technique concentrates on the lymphatic system, which is an essential component of the immune system.

The objective of lymphatic drainage massage is to aid the body in maintaining appropriate blood circulation, fluid balance, and immune functions. Many people have utilized lymphatic drainage massage to aid in injury recovery, reduce swelling, and more. To determine if you could benefit from a lymphatic draining massage, keep reading to learn about the science behind it and what you can expect from treatment. 

The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system operates in tandem with the cardiovascular system, playing a crucial role in maintaining overall wellness. It bolsters the immune system by eliminating toxins, dead blood cells, pathogens, and other forms of waste. It also facilitates the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system, distributing these essential nutrients to cells for energy. The system rids the body of surplus fluid, referred to as lymph, and waste materials from the interstitial spaces between organs and cells.

The lymphatic system comprises vessels and nodes that contain lymph, a fluid mixture of proteins, water, waste products, and immune system components. Lymph nodes are dispersed throughout the body and filter the lymphatic fluid.

The most prominent lymph nodes are found in the neck, groin, and armpits. They work in unison to ensure that “pure” lymph is transported back to the veins that carry blood toward the heart.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage Details

Lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle massage that aims to activate the lymphatic system, eliminating waste and toxins from the body. This massage employs delicate, rhythmic strokes to enhance the lymphatic fluid flow and minimize swelling and inflammation. As the lymphatic system plays a critical role in our immune system, this massage technique can stimulate our body’s natural defenses.

The massage focuses on the delicate lymph vessels and nodes located just beneath the skin, requiring only a slight amount of pressure to propel the fluid. It may feel like a traditional massage and could result in some soreness. But it is gentle and should not result in pain or discomfort.

Massage Types

Massage therapists, physical therapists, and doctors typically use four types of lymphatic drainage massage. These include:

  • Vodder: This foundational technique involves various sweeping motions around the treated area.
  • Foldi: An extension of the Vodder technique, Foldi requires the massage therapist to alternate between circular hand motions and moments of relaxation.
  • Casley-Smith: This approach to lymphatic massage also involves circular hand motions, mainly using the sides and palms of the hands.
  • Leduc: This technique relies on hand motions to collect lymph fluid before redirecting it for reabsorption into the larger lymphatic system.

These techniques operate on the same principle, using gentle movements to stretch the skin in the direction of lymph flow. The methods start at the part of the limb nearest to the torso and move outward. A typical session lasts between 15 to 60 minutes.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage Process

When considering lymphatic drainage therapy, seek out a licensed and experienced professional who can treat you and understand your physical needs and desired results. Choosing a competent practitioner ensures the best possible treatment experience and results. If you are susceptible to bruising, you may be asked to refrain from taking blood-thinning substances, such as ibuprofen, before your scheduled appointment.

If you receive a lymphatic drainage massage, expect a deep massage. However, you will also feel lighter and notice more defined contours afterward. The pinkish hue of your skin after the massage is directly linked to increased blood flow. 

It is not uncommon to experience soreness in the following two days from the pressure exerted by the therapist during the massage. Additionally, you may notice an improvement in muscle mobility, an invigorated sensation within your body, and increased urination. These outcomes arise from proper lymphatic movement. Be sure to stay hydrated post-massage to maintain the benefits.


Receiving a lymphatic drainage massage can help you achieve better health in numerous ways. It’s also a suitable treatment option for many different people. Some of the main benefits include: 

  • promoting healing and recovery post-surgery or injury
  • enhancing skin health by minimizing acne and other blemishes
  • decreasing swelling and edema
  • alleviating symptoms of lymphedema and other medical conditions
  • reducing stress levels
  • raised relaxation
  • boosting immune function

Who Benefits

Lymphatic drainage massage has gained popularity due to its potential health benefits beyond treating lymphedema. Those who may benefit from lymphatic drainage massage include: 

  • Individuals who are experiencing stress, anxiety, or tension.
  • Those who are suffering from lymphedema or other lymphatic conditions.
  • People who are looking to enhance their immune system function.
  • Individuals with swelling or edema resulting from surgery or injury.
  • People who are interested in natural and holistic wellness practices.
  • Those who want to improve the appearance and health of their skin.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage As Treatment

Although some conditions can benefit more from this massage technique than others, studies have shown that it may help treat the following health problems:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: People with rheumatoid arthritis may experience poor lymph flow as the disease progresses, which can lead to tissue swelling, joint pain, loss of joint function, and skin discoloration. Lymph drainage massage can help alleviate these later-stage symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI): CVI is a condition where the valves or walls of the leg veins don’t work correctly, making it difficult for blood to flow back to the heart from the legs. Lymphatic drainage massage can help increase blood flow speed in people with CVI and immediately improve the performance of the femoral artery (the large artery in the thigh) after the session. More research is needed to determine the long-term effects of lymphatic drainage massage on CVI.
  • Fibromyalgia: This condition causes skin nerve inflammation, tissue swelling, and skin discoloration. Studies have shown that lymph drainage massage may be better than connective tissue massage in treating depression, stiffness, and improving the quality of life for people with fibromyalgia.

Of course, receiving a lymphatic drainage massage does not require any of the above conditions. You could benefit if you’re dealing with higher stress and are looking to help your skin and immune system. 

Better Body, Better Health

Lymphatic drainage massage helps the body do what it was designed to do in a more expeditious and cohesive way. It is especially helpful to those suffering from lymphedema, but also provides great benefits to others. The lymphatic system is crucial in distributing necessary nutrients and eliminating toxins in the body. 

This massage technique can help reduce swelling, inflammation, and fluid retention by promoting lymphatic flow. It can also improve immune function, enhance circulation, and promote relaxation. Overall, lymphatic draining massage can be beneficial for those looking to support their body’s natural detoxification process and promote overall wellness. 
When you are looking to optimize your health with any procedure or treatment, it is crucial to seek out experts in the field. CORR is designed to help you feel your best. Our exclusive services offer access to cutting-edge therapies that are based on the latest research and medical breakthroughs. At CORR, individuals can find relief and healing for a wide range of recovery requirements. Ready to take your health and recovery to the next level? Reach out today to learn more about all CORR has to offer.