Simple Detox Series – Massage

For those who enjoy massage, you already know it feels good.  The pressure from a massage actually signals your brain to release endorphins which make you feel good and help pain fade away.  The aromas, music and peaceful environment usually help you to let go of worries and detach from emotions and stress.  Massage can provide a unique opportunity to focus on the present moment and connect deeper to your body.

But in addition to all this, it actually detoxes the body.  Therefore it could also make you feel a little ill afterwards.  The pressure from the massage actually squeezes out the toxins that are tucked into muscles, tissues and organs.  From here, toxins enter into the circulatory system where the body begins to eliminate them.

The lymphatic system is like a sewer system that runs along the circulatory system and collects all the toxins and waste.  It also carries the immune cells that attack invading organisms and fight against infections.  However the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump (like the blood does with the heart), and it needs help to get things moving.  It relies only on gravity, body movement and exercise and breathing.

Massage is an excellent way to move the lymph system, especially if you haven’t been active or taking good care of yourself.  But regardless of your situation, massage is a great option to fit into your lifestyle on a regular basis.  Always be sure to drink extra water after a massage to help flush the toxins that are released.

Lymph Drainage Massage

It is a specific form of massage that drains the lymph system.  It’s very gentle and the massage therapist uses very light pressure.  Since the lymph is just below the skin layer, you can think of it more like stretching the skin.  The therapist will first massage the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, abdomen and groin, then move on to the rest of the body to move the lymph fluid toward the lymph nodes.  Focusing on these areas stimulates lymph flow for the entire body.  It also stimulates production of white blood cells and forces toxins from the tissues into the lymph nodes so they can be eliminated.

It can be effective in a variety of situations including for injured and swollen areas, sinus congestion and head colds or just as a form of relaxation.

Do It Yourself

A great thing about Lymph Drainage Massage is that it’s easy enough to do by yourself!  But before you do, be sure to educate yourself on the proper technique and sequence.  You can find some great tutorials here:

Foam Rolling

Foam Roller
Foam Roller

Another easy, do it yourself option, it’s my go-to option whenever I’m feeling sore and lazy!  All you need is a foam roller and a little motivation!  You can pretty much take care of your whole body in about 10-15 minutes.  I find it effective for relieving muscle tension and working out any soreness.  I also like to just lay on it length-wise along the length of my spine and do some deep breathing.

Other Massage Types

All massages have an aspect of detoxification, however they are usually more specific in their goals.  They range from treating pain and specific conditions to providing stress relief and relaxation or general body maintenance and rejuvenation.

Here is a run down of some of the best known therapies:

  • Swedish Massage – probably the most common massage and best for anyone who is new to massage.
  • Hot Stone Massage – using smooth, “hot stones,” it’s best for relaxing very tense muscles.
  • Deep Tissue Massage – might actually leave you feeling sore afterwards, good for treating stiff spots and specific trouble spots.
  • Trigger Point Massage – focuses on very specific spots due to chronic pain and tension.
  • Neuromuscular Therapy – a form of Trigger Point massage, it treats injuries due to underlying body problems like back pain.
  • Shiatsu Massage – best for restoring energy and treating headaches and back pain by using gentle stretching and manipulating pressure points.
  • Thai Massage – more invigorating and active, it’s used to relax and energize while increasing flexibility.
  • Sports Massage – best for athletes and very active people, it combines multiple massage techniques to focus on specific needs.

Whatever form you use, be sure to discuss any pain or existing conditions you might have.  Get to know the therapist well and seek to develop a long-term relationship.  Hopefully they can help guide you to better health and understanding of your body’s needs.

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