How-to: lymphatic drainage techniques.
If you suspect your lymph might be stagnant or simply want to show your nodes some love, here are several ways to help move it along.
Mhm, we’re biased. We know! But we stand by it. One reason gua sha works is because it moves the lymph! Check out our full tutorial and be sure to avoid these very common gua sha mistakes.
This isn’t just any old massage. When it comes to lymph, gentle touch is the way. Since lymph collects superficially under the skin, a deep tissue massage bypasses it (for the most part) in favor of the muscles. A lymphatic drainage massage doesn’t feel particularly intense and that’s on purpose. It’s designed to follow the pathways of the lymph, lymph nodes, and uses a soft touch to assist the body in draining and detoxifying. Always talk to your care provider before getting one, especially if you have any medical conditions, as stimulating the lymphatic system may put undue strain on the body.
Lymphatic drainage machine.
Yes. You read that right. There now exists a machine whose sole purpose is to help move our lymph. The “LPG machine,” also known as the lymphatic drainage machine made modern and popular by Los Angeles lymph whisperer Anna Zahn, works like a vacuum on the skin. It moves the lymph with gentle suction. Leave this to the professionals and put your Dysons down, folks!
Dry body brushing.
Dry body brushing is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to help move lymph on your own. To start, purchase a brush with relatively stiff bristles. You don’t want them too firm, otherwise they’ll hurt! Test the brush on the inside of your wrist to see what you can tolerate. It should feel slightly abrasive, but completely bearable. Following the pathway of your lymph, you’ll use light, firm, brisk strokes toward your heart.
Start on the insides of your feet, move up your calves and your thigh. Then brush upwards on the backs of your legs, making sure to cover the behind the knees well—lymph nodes are concentrated there. Moving up toward the hip and groin, be sure to go over your hip creases and inner thighs, where another concentration of lymph nodes lives. Work your way up to your belly and move the dry brush around your belly button in circles. Then, starting at your inner wrist and working your way toward your core, brush up the inner arm, spending a few extra strokes near the armpit, you guessed it, where lymph nodes are concentrated, as you move it in toward your heart. Then you’re done! The process takes just a few minutes and can be done a few times a week.
Perhaps the sexiest option (joking, but kind of not, see below), wearing compression garments, particularly if you’re traveling, stuck sick in bed, or otherwise immobile for long periods of time can help keep the lymph from pooling in the limbs. Thankfully, a few inventive companies have released compression wear that doesn’t look like it came from the pharmacy.
- We Are Figs women’s compression socks
- COMRAD companion compression socks
- Spanx active compression knee socks
Walking, jogging, jumping on a trampoline, jumping rope, yoga, swimming—anything that gets you moving will get your lymph moving, too. We prefer the trampoline because… have you ever tried it? Jumping on a trampoline is like a fast track to feeling joy.
Using your diaphragm with breathwork massages the innermost organs like the spleen and the liver that help filter the lymph and blood. The diaphragm rises and falls with the breath, acting like a pump. Getting your diaphragm moving with some deep belly breathing through your nose can help calm your nervous system and may help you move inner lymph, too.
If you wanna try it, we got you. Try this. Find a comfortable seat, whatever that means for you. Inhale and send your breath to your belly, feeling it soften and expand (focusing on your belly expanding, rather than your chest). Inhale even more and fill the lungs wide, and then high. As you exhale, let the breath fall out of you as the belly softens. Continue like this for a few minutes.
Staying hydrated and eating well.
This should probably go without saying, but staying hydrated is key to keeping the lymph mobile! Without adequate water, the body doesn’t have the ingredients it needs to make enough lymph. The same goes for vitamins and nutrients. Without sufficient nutrient intake, particularly fats, as they play a pivotal role in the production and transport of immune system cells, we’re putting our lymph at risk. Be sure to stay hydrated and eat a nutrient-dense diet.
What happens after lymphatic drainage, and how do you know it’s working?
After successful lymphatic drainage of any kind, it’s important to drink a lot of water, stick to eating unprocessed foods, and support your body in the detoxification process. You’ll know it’s working because you’ll start to notice subtle shifts in how you feel. It’s all quite personal and depends on the techniques you’re implementing, how often, as well as your lifestyle. In general, clearer skin, getting sick less often, fewer body aches and headaches, decreased facial puffiness, increased energy, and regular elimination are all signs that your lymphatic system is feeling the love.