Common Misconceptions About Lymph Massage

September 12, 2018 BY Rochelle Clark

I’ve been a practicing lymph drainage massage therapist for almost 20 years, and during that time I’ve run into some interesting theories about what I do.

I have an intense passion for lymph massage and all the wonderful things it can do for the body.

I know it works.

To reap the benefits of this time-tested and proven technique, you first have to overcome any misconceptions about it.

First, it helps to understand what lymph drainage massage is.

In short, lymph massage focuses on the lymphatic system and is a gentle touch massage therapy that stimulates the lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels throughout the body. For a more in-depth explanation, head over to my blog post “What Do Lymphatic Massage Therapist Do?”

But if you’re ready to be surprised, let’s jump right into these common misconceptions about lymph drainage massage.

Misconception #1. Lymph Drainage Massage Hurts

Quite to the contrary.

Lymph drainage massage gently guides the lymph fluid throughout the body. As it does, it supports your body with detoxification and rejuvenation.

I use a gentle touch with each of my clients and always listen to their preferences. You do not have to use a rough touch to experience all the benefits from lymph massage. Quite the contrary. If the touch is rough or deep, it is NOT lymphatic massage.

Despite the gentle touch, it offers profound results when done by a professional.

Misconception #2. Lymphatic Drainage Massage involves EXTERNAL Drainage

One of the first questions new clients asked me is, “Where are the fluids drained into?”

Fortunately, there is no external drainage to lymph drainage massage, so you don’t have to worry about being hooked up to funny tubes and other weird devices.

But because the lymphatic system is an open system, which means it doesn’t have a massive muscle/pump to move fluids around like the heart and blood system, you need a massage to maximize lymphatic flow.

That’s where drainage massage plays a role. It moves those fluids around for the body so it can naturally detox.

Misconception #3. You will get sick from lymphatic massage therapy.

Once again, there is no guarantee you will get sick from a lymph drainage massage.

I always tell my clients that the lymphatic system is like a silent sewer system.

If it’s congested, you may feel tired for the few days following a session. It simply takes time to break down those toxins getting in the way of a healthy system.

And it is extremely rare to feel sick to the point of nausea. If you do, it won’t take long to subside.

Don’t fret too much about being or getting sick. It is far from an expected side effect.

Most of my client’s report feeling lighter, more energetic, and in general healthier than before their session.

Misconception #4. Lymph massage is great for losing weight.

I would say yes and no on this one.

Weight loss is complex, and while one person might just want to budge the scale another person might focus on actual fat loss.

If you’re trying to lose fat, lymph drainage massage can be helpful but won’t necessarily lead to weight loss.

If you want to lose water weight, lymph massage can be a powerful tool. Especially if you’re trying to get rid of stubborn cellulite.

However, I wouldn’t expect lymphatic massage alone to help you take lbs. off the scale.

If lymph drainage massage is something you’re interested in or if you simply want to explore the many benefits of this unique massage technique, then please contact me. I would love to discuss your goals and set up an appointment to meet you in person.

15 Responses

  1. Thank you for clarifying the misconceptions about Lymph massage! More power!

  2. Cindy Sanders says:

    The gal who has been giving me lymphatic drainage massage uses a bit more pressure than previous therapists. This time it really left me thoroughly drained. Can you tell me if there are medical issues if too much pressure is used? Thank you for your time.

    • Rochelle Clark says:

      Since I was not there, I cannot speak as to whether or not too much pressure was used. Unless there are severe health issues that are contraindicated for receiving lymphatic massage, there are no adverse effects if more pressure was used. It just may not have been “focused” on the lymph system.

  3. Leslie says:

    I received a Lymph Drainage Massage yesterday that lasted the duration of an entire 60-minute session.

    Today I am feeling extremely sick – achy, nauseated, incredibly fatigued – and have had several loose bowel movements throughout today (no fever or elevated temperature to speak of). These symptoms hit hard not even 24 hours following the session; immediately following the session and as of this morning I simply felt a little achy and tired.

    This has never happened after such a session before. Is it possible the session lasted too long? Could the lymph drainage have caused this?

    I should note, I am, myself an LMT of two years who provides such sessions, and have never heard of such an extreme “side effect” before, but cannot imagine what else this could be.

    • Rochelle Clark says:

      Hi Leslie,

      I’m sorry you experienced such an extreme response from your session. As you know, true lymphatic drainage massage is gentle yet profound. This gentle technique is very effective in moving toxins out of the body, and sometimes very rapidly, as in your case.

      A response such as yours is not common, but it does happen. I’ve had clients experience similar symptoms after their first session within a few hours, and sometimes immediately. The most common response is extreme fatigue, increased urination and/or bowel movements, and in more rare cases, nausea.

      I hope you explored options to support your detoxification pathways. Your next lymphatic session will most likely be more pleasant.

      Thank you for your comment. I wish you all the best.

  4. Rose says:

    My lymphedema makes the massage hurt so much that sometimes I tell her to stop. Should I continue?

    • Rochelle Clark says:

      Hi Rose,

      I’m sorry you are experiencing pain during your sessions. I’ve never had a client complain of pain while receiving treatment. Since I am not present during your sessions, I cannot say whether or not your therapist is correctly performing lymphatic drainage massage. I recommend trying another Certified Lymphatic Therapist to compare. Your sessions should not be painful.

  5. It’s good that you point out that lymphatic drainage massage is great for helping to detoxify your body. I’ve been looking for a good way to detoxify myself, so I’m considering trying lymphatic drainage massage. I’m going to look for a good business in my area that offers lymphatic drainage massage.

  6. Maggz says:

    Had a lymph massage and day after I had problems breathing constipated and feeling extremely nauseous for almost 3 weeks now.

    • Rochelle Clark says:

      Thank you for sharing. Sometimes clients can experience a detox response that may last one or two days. Your body’s reaction the the “lymphatic massage” seems extreme. I’m sorry that was your experience. I have no knowledge of your health history and was not a part of your session. Therefore, I cannot be sure of what was actually performed during your session. Did you reach out to the practitioner you were working with to receive some feedback or guidance? Did you contact your doctor? I do hope you are feeling better now.

  7. Chris says:

    Hey there. I enjoyed this read, so thanks. 👍😉 i have been getting random swelling in all parts, but mostly right leg/knee and arms. I’ll save you the long story, but after a bunch of searching around, i came to find i might have some blocked lymph channels. Do you think a good Lymph massage would help release this potentially, and if so, on average how long does it take for some of your patients to start feeling some relief? I know you aren’t my doctor 😜 but your opinion would still be valuable to me. Thanks! 😊

    • Rochelle Clark says:

      Lymphatic massage “may” be suitable and beneficial for you. I recommend finding a specialist in your area who can sit down with you and go over your complete health history and find out more about what may be happening in your body. Since I have never worked with you I cannot provide any specific recommendations. Some of my clients find relief quickly, and others take longer. It really depends on each individual situation.

  8. Gina says:

    I’ve been getting lymphatic drainage massages for the past 4 weeks twice a week for “puffiness” throughout my body from being chronically dehydrated (unknowingly). However, my puffiness is getting worse after I leave treatment.

    • Rochelle Clark says:

      Hi Gina,
      I am sorry you are having that type of an experience. It sounds like your body may be having a challenging time expelling toxins after your sessions. Many of my clients who are going through a detox process see me in conjunction with a colon hydrotherapist to help the body expel toxins more efficiently and avoid some of the discomforts that may occur after lymphatic drainage massage. Lymphatic massage does accelerate the flow of lymph fluid and toxins, and if you are constipated or dehydrated, the toxins cannot move out of your body efficiently.

  9. Great article that I’ve ever read about “Common Misconceptions About Lymph Massage”. It has become knowledge for me. This really helps me.

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