Lymphatic Drainage Therapy
Just over a year ago, I started working at a clinic in Calgary, AB, CAN, called the Lymph Balance Centre. I wanted to begin the transition away from deep tissue massage work and toward light touch manual therapies such as Lymph Drainage Therapy. Part of the training to become a lymphatic drainage therapist is to learn what lymph is, what your lymphatic system does for you, and how Lymph Drainage Therapy can help keep you healthy.
Lymph is a clear liquid that is 96% water. It is the most common fluid in the human body. Anywhere that you have blood, you have lymph. It is transported throughout the body in lymphatic vessels and has both a circulatory and immune system function.
One job of the lymphatic system is to transport large protein molecules that fail to get collected by your blood vessels back towards your heart. The movement of lymph fluid is what prevents your tissues from becoming swollen. If your lymphatic system is damaged, then you will likely end up with an accumulation of fluid, or swelling.
Another function of the lymphatic system is to transport immune cells throughout the body and destroy foreign pathogens. It can be helpful to think of lymph nodes as mini water treatment plants, where substances that do not serve the organism are transported by lymph to either be filtered and purified or, captured and destroyed.
Most people find lymphatic work to be quite relaxing. The pressure is light and rhythmic, like ocean waves. Aside from feelings of increased relaxation or sleepiness, one of the most common side effects of treatment is a change in the frequency, smell or colour of urination. This is a sign of the therapy working! Be sure to drink lots of water after your treatment to mitigate any potential side effects.