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How to Perform Lymphatic Drainage Massage

“Patient compliance is the hardest part of self-care, especially for women, who are so used to taking care of others,” says Patel.

She advises patients to set aside at least 20 minutes a day for lymphatic drainage massage. “If you only have a brief amount of time, perform the clearing stage of massage.”

To begin reabsorption on the legs, you will use a “pumping” motion behind the knee:

  1. Place both hands behind your knees.
  2. “Pump” the back of the knee with a rolling, upward motion 10 to 15 times.

Your knee is now ready to take in fluid from the lower leg, so you can proceed to massaging the lower legs:

  1. Put one hand on the top of the shin and the other behind the leg.
  2. Stretch the skin in an upward motion, then release it.
  3. Continue down toward the ankle area.
  4. Repeat down through the ankle and feet, always stroking upward.
  5. End the massage by gently pushing fluid in the toes upward with your fingers.
Measuring effectiveness

How do you know if lymphatic drainage massage is effective? “This is a maintenance technique,” says Patel. “Your lymphedema should not get worse if you regularly practice lymphatic massage.”

Drink water. Well-hydrated tissue help moves out waste material and

Managing your lymphedema can also include:

  • using a compression sleeve to prevent fluid buildup
  • seeing a qualified therapist for in-office drainage massage

When choosing a therapist, learn as much about their education as possible. “Massage is very good for you, but deep tissue massage can be too heavy for someone with lymphedema, so don’t assume you can just go to a massage therapist.”

Look for someone who is a certified lymphedema therapist (CLT) and preferably a physical or occupational therapist with oncology and pathology training.






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