Lymph drainage massage will drain the fluid from the connective tissue just beneath the skin and move it toward your lymph nodes using light pressure and specific rhythm.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage is a light pressure massage directed along the paths of the lymph vessels, using special strokes derived from the work of Dr. Vodder. Lymphatic Drainage is designed to help alleviate edema, accumulations of interstitial fluid in the tissues.
The lymphatic system is a secondary part of the circulatory system. Lymphatic vessels carry "overflow" fluid from the bloodstream, as well as lymphocytes and other white blood cells which make up a substantial part of the immune response.
The lymphatic system is one of your body's filtering systems, like the kidneys. Once the lymph has been filtered through the lymph nodes it re-enters the bloodstream.
The lymphatic system is a big part of your immune system. The lymph (blood plasma and white blood cells) circulate through the body tissues transporting debris and toxins from tissue to the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes enable the body to rid itself of these toxins. The lymphatic system is key in triggering the immune response when the body is exposed to viruses or other invaders.
If you find that you are catching colds easily every time the seasons change, your immune system may be sluggish. This style of massage will assist your body to detox. Improved flow of lymph can help your body fight allergies, viral and bacterial infection and other common sinus problems.
The lymphatic system is referred to as our second circulatory system. You have much more lymph than blood. But unlike the blood system, which has a pump (the heart) to ensure that the blood and oxygen flows properly, the lymph system has no pump of its own.
One way it gets pumped is through the contraction of the skeletal muscles against the lymph vessels. This is why when an otherwise healthy person sits all day, or stands in one place for several hours, her ankles may swell. The lack of movement makes the system slow down. In the torso, the motion of deep breathing is similarly helpful in helping the lymph to move.
Because of the very light pressure and the constant rhythmic pace of the massage, lymphatic drainage is one of the most profoundly relaxing styles of massage.
Lymphatics and the Immune System (a nice overview of the anatomy and physiology appropriate for the layman
Lymph Drainage for Detoxification (PDF) This article is from a therapists perspective.
Swelling could be a sign of something serious, so see your doctor first to rule out serious medical causes (including congestive heart failure, deep vein thrombosis, or preeclampsia in pregnancy). Once you've been checked out and you know your swollen ankles are just due to long periods of standing or sitting, lymph drainage massage will help you find relief.
Note: My training is in Practical Lymphatic Drainage, which is targeted to essentially healthy individuals. I have not been through the 135 hour course of training to become certified by the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA). If you are experiencing severe clinical lymphedema, it would be more appropriate for you to see a therapist certified to that level in Manual Lymph Drainage or Complete Decongestive Therapy, as these exceed my own scope of practice. Such therapists are listed at the National Lymphedema Network site or at the LANA site.