A beginner’s guide to lymphatic drainage

Woman getting a lymphatic drainage massage

Have you thanked your body recently? It works tirelessly on a daily basis to keep you healthy. From making sure we’re absorbing all the nutrients from the foods we eat to eliminating toxins and waste products, the human body does a lot for us. However, there are times when our bodies could benefit from a helping hand.

That’s where lymphatic drainage massages come in. This form of massage can help support the body’s process of eliminating fluid build-up to help us improve immunity, skin health, and more. Let’s dive deeper into what lymphatic drainage is and how it can help your body.

Your lymphatic system

Our bodies are made up of many intricate systems. One of them is the lymphatic system, which is made of a network of organs, vessels, and tissues that manage and regulate fluid levels within our bodies. Essentially, it works to drain fluid from our blood vessels into our tissues and empties it back into the bloodstream through the lymph nodes. This helps support the removal of toxins and waste products from the body.

What is lymphatic drainage?

Lymphatic drainage involves a set of massages done on the body to help improve the flow of lymph fluids. Gently massaging specific areas of the body can help the body move any build-up of fluids to an area with working lymph vessels. This ultimately helps reduce swelling in those areas.

There are two main types of lymphatic drainage:

  • Manual – This type of lymphatic drainage is done by a qualified therapist.
  • Simple – This technique can be used at home.

The benefits of lymphatic drainage

Apart from the removal of stagnant fluids in the body, lymphatic drainage has many other benefits as well. This type of massage can help stimulate blood circulation, support tissue regeneration and reduce water retention. Additionally, it can help improve the immune system as a result of promoting the elimination of any toxins that the body has been holding on to. Lymphatic drainage can also minimize the appearance of cellulite and provide your skin with a glow or shine. It does this by reducing the amount of fluid that is pressing up under the surface of your skin. This massage can also leave you with a soothed mind and a relaxed mental state, since it is a massage, after all!

Should you get a lymphatic drainage massage?

You may be thinking, “Wow! This sounds great, should I get one?” Well, that depends. Certain health conditions can leave us with a buildup of lymphatic fluid. Performing a lymphatic drainage can help in these situations, and can be especially beneficial for those with lymphedema, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic venous insufficiency, and lipedema.

Although lymphatic drainage has its benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone. For example, lymphatic drainage is not recommended for those with cellulitis, a heart condition, or kidney failure. So, be sure to consult a trusted healthcare practitioner before getting a lymphatic drainage massage or doing it at home.

Steps for a successful at-home lymphatic drainage

There are a variety of exercises that you can do for a successful lymphatic drainage at home. We’ve included a few below to get you started. These exercises can help move any buildup of fluid from one area to another, helping support your lymphatic system in working efficiently.

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, and always remember to start with your head and neck and work your way down.

Head & neck

To stimulate the lymph nodes in your head and neck area, place your hand on the base of your neck, right above your collarbone. Move your hands gently in a circular motion and complete around 8-10 circles on each side of your neck.

Woman doing lymphatic drainage massage

Move to place your hands on your neck and jaw area, with fingers on either side of your ears. Gently make 8-10 circles on each side.

Woman doing lymphatic drainage massage

You can do this one side at a time or both sides at the same time depending on your comfort level.

Upper body

Place your hand on the right side of your chest.

Woman doing lymphatic drainage massage

Gently move your hand across your chest towards the left shoulder. Do this motion around 5-8 times.

Repeat this motion on the other side of your chest.


Place one hand on the back of your leg and another hand on the inside of your leg on your upper thigh. Work in a gentle stretch-and-release motion from your inner thigh toward the hip side of your leg.

Woman doing lymphatic drainage massage

Move your hands lower on your thigh and repeat the same movements. Repeat this 5 times in 3 lines to make sure you cover your entire thigh.

Once you’ve reached your knee, place both hands on the sides of your knee. Start just below your knee and gently stretch the skin up toward your hip and waist area and release. Repeat this motion 5 times in 3 sets.

Woman doing lymphatic drainage massage

Did you try this at home? Let us know by connecting with others at CanPrev Community’s Healthy Habits group.

Simply click here to join – we’re excited to hear your story!

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