Updated: Jul 19
How can you tell if Lymph Drainage or Massage is working?
This is a very valid and basic question, specially if you haven't received much bodywork in the past. All the pictures and ads you see are of someone lying on their stomach, smiling blissfully surrounded by flowers and candles. All of that looks like pampering, but will it actually help you or is it just money spent to help you relax for an hour or two?
Much like exercise, it all depends on how you approach it. You wouldn't expect to get defined abs by doing planks once a month or just on vacation or if you focus all your gym time on building your glutes and biceps. It depends what your goals are and what strategy you use.
I ask my clients what their goals are in the beginning and then again every session. The problem is that often there are many different goals and desires and we only have an hour or two once or twice a month to accomplish them. That's just not realistic for specific areas of concern. With massage and most bodywork modalities you soon find out that everything is connected and the pain in your shoulder is now causing your opposite hip to tighten up.
But what if you also have a lot of stress and just want to unwind and relax for a while? Massage can definitely help you with all those things and so much more but if you're looking for specific results, then you need to approach it in a systematic way. Your therapist will likely tell you what they find, which areas need deep tissue or cupping, which areas are inflamed and how they all contribute to your area of concern. They can then work out a game plan on how to approach it. Ideally, you should commit to seeing them weekly or twice a week for 4-6 visits targeting this concern and then assess to see if it is actually helping. If after that time there is no improvement, it is time to change tactics or refer out. For this to work, the therapist and client need to be consistent and focused on their goal. It also helps to have measurements of range of motion or pain levels, how it is affecting activities in daily life etc. You need to have a way of measuring progress quantifiably.
With Lymphatic Drainage this is specially true. One session a year or every few month is just a novelty experience but not likely to cause any long lasting changes. This is true if you are receiving lymph drainage post operatively, to manage an inflammatory condition or to help you detox. I usually recommend 5 sessions over the course of 3-5 weeks. A lot depends on how congested your system is and if you have scar tissue impeding lymphatic flow, among other things.
Typically, if a person is just curious to experience lymph drainage and doesn't have a particular concern in mind, they will just find it very relaxing and may get sleepy, much like you feel after a relaxation massage.
How do I get the best results?
The best way to know if it is working is to be clear about what your goals are, communicate this clearly with your therapist. Have them formulate a game plan on how to target your sessions to address that specific concern. Take some form of measurements on every visit and be consistent about coming regularly for 4-5 visits in order to assess if this is indeed working for you or not.
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