Massage Yourself: Self Lymphatic Drainage for the Legs

When I walk in crowds, or people watch at a concert, I inevitably find myself watching the way people move and what their bodies look like. In summer, when it’s hot and everyone wears shorts or skirts, I notice swelling in the legs/ankles and foot. This time of year, in the heat, many people have swollen ankles and feet, especially.

Swelling and edema in the legs can be incredibly uncomfortable and I’ve had a lot of requests for a lymphatic drainage routine for the legs. I’ve put together a video that demonstrates how to work on the legs, but there’s an important piece of information you’ll need to understand. In order to move fluid in the body, you must make space for that fluid further up the line. Because the lymphatic system is a dynamic fluid system, you need to open up areas close to the drains so that fluid can siphon up higher in the system toward the main drains. For legs, that means you must get movement in the neck and throughout the abdomen.

So, to perform this drainage technique on yourself, you’ll need to work on the neck first, then the lymphatic breathing, then abdomen/torso, and finally this leg routine. If you have severe edema, lipodema, or long-standing swelling issues from an unknown cause, you’ll want to work with your physician before trying this on yourself. Keep in mind that you will be using extremely light pressure, and very slow movements. This is light massage, but can make powerful changes throughout the body.

There are important contraindications to lymphatic drainage massage:

As with all lymphatic drainage massage, there are contraindications. While it is a light form of massage, it is very powerful and can have a broad effect on the body. Note that if you are pregnant, you can safely perform the lymphatic breathing routine, but should not perform the routine in the second abdominal video where there is manipulation of and pressing down on the abdomen.

While it doesn’t feel invasive or deep, LDM can have a profound effect on the body because of its function within the immune system and its use of the circulatory system. If you have any of these conditions or problems, consult your physician before performing this on yourself:

  1. Fever, acute infection, early onset inlammatory disease. You need to wait until the acute phase is over and the fever is broken.
  2. Circulatory system problems, especially thrombosis. If there is any risk of embolism of phlebitis, do not use LDM and see your physician immediately
  3. Cardiac issues such as heart disease, acute angina pectoris or coronary thrombosis (heart attack). Using LDM increases the fluid load on the heart, and compromised cardiac systems should not be subjected to LDM.
  4. Active bleeding, internal or external.
  5. Active malignant cancers, undiagnosed lumps, or tumors whose origins have not been determined by your physician.
  6. High risk pregnancy or late term pregnancy with complications

Contraindications specific to the abdominal and leg routine are abdominal aneurism or thrombosis/phlebitis.

1 Comment »

  1. Sigrid Wilson said,

    August 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I would just like to say thank You, I have a rare disease called Dercums Disease & I am in the process of trying to get our Gov. to add Deep Lymphatic massage on their medical care list, since it helps me. Dercums consists of multiple lipomas all over the body ,pressing against the nerves. The pain can be excruciating & I have found deep lymphatic maggage rather helpful, so thank u for this advise & demo on the video.
    I have been doing a similar proceeddure for some time, but it’s good to know how to do it correctly!!!!
    Kind Regards
    Sigrid Wilson
    NSW Australia!

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