How to do Self Lymphedema massage on leg
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All the Lymphatic Drainage strokes are based on one principle motion.
Research has found that the initial lymphatics open up and the lymph angions are stimulated by a straight stretch, but even more so with a little lateral motion. After these 2 motions, we need to release completely to allow the initial lymphatics to close and the lymph to be sucked down the channels. In this zero pressure phase don’t completely disconnect from the skin, just return your pressure to nothing. Also don’t pull the skin back with you as you return, let it spring back by itself.
This basic motion may resemble a circle, and is called stationary circles. All motions are based on this principle.
In orienting this motion, we always want to push the lymph towards the correct nodes, so the last, lateral stretch motion should be going towards the nodes.
Think about moving water. Visualize those initial lymphatics just in the skin, stretch, opening them up, then release and wait for the lymph angions to pump the lymph down the vessel. Remember how superficial this is. If you are feeling muscle, or other tissue under the skin, you are pushing too hard.
Here are four points remember when performing Lymphatic Massage-
1. Correct pressure is deep enough so that you do not slide over the skin, but light enough so that you don’t feel anything below the skin. This is about 1-4 ounces. It is very common for massage therapists trained in Swedish or deep tissue to apply too much pressure with lymphatic drainage massage. Sometimes it is hard to believe that something so light could be effective. Always remember- you are working on skin. How much pressure does it take to deform the skin? Almost nothing. Remember- if you push too hard you collapse the initial lymphatic.
2. Direction of your stroke is of great importance, because we always want to push the lymph towards the correct nodes. If you push the lymph the wrong way, your work will not be effective.
3. Rhythm is very important because with the correct rhythm and speed, the initial lymphatics are opened, and then allowed to shut and then there is a little time that is given for that lymph to get sucked down along the vessel. An appropriate rhythm will also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, causing the client to relax.
4. Sequence means the order of the strokes. When we want to drain an area, we always start near the node that we are draining to. Always push the lymph toward the node. Then as we work, we move further and further away from the node, but always pushing the fluid back in the direction of the node. In this way we clear a path for the lymph to move, as well as create a suctioning effect that draws the lymph to the node.
Self MLD for the Lower Extremity
v Rules for MLD:
o The strokes should be made with arcing motions or half circle motions.
o Do not slide over your skin, but rather, keep your fingers in contact with your skin and stretch it gently over the underlying tissues.
o You should have NO PAIN.
o Each stroke should be done 10-15 times SLOWLY, taking about 2 seconds for each stroke.
o If redness occurs, you are pressing too hard.
o For lymphedema of BOTH legs, perform all moves on both sides.
o The best position to be in for this is seated reclined, or lying
down and propped up slightly.
o Make sure you can make skin-to-skin contact for all of these strokes. They won't work when done over clothing.
1. Neck: Place the flats of your fingers on your opposite shoulder, in the triangular part just above the collarbone and next to your neck. Move your hand in an arcing motion stretching the skin forward and down towards your chest. Repeat this on the other side.
2. Armpit: Raise your arm (on the same side as the leg in which you have lymphedema), bend you elbow, and place the hand behind your head. Place the flat of your opposite hand in your armpit. Stretch the skin in an arcing motion up towards the neck.
3. Above the waist: Place the flat of your opposite hand on the side of your body (on the side on which you have lymphedema) below the breast, but above the waist. Move your hand upwards in an arcing motion in the direction of your armpit, stretching your skin.
4. Below the waist: Place the flat of your opposite hand on the side of your body (on the side on which you have lymphedema) on or just below the waist, but above your hip. Move your hand upwards in an arcing motion in the direction of your armpit, stretching your skin.
5. Deep (diaphragmatic) breathing: Place both open palms on top of each other below the belly button. Take a slow breath in and feel your belly rise up into your hands as it expands to take in the air. Then breath out and feel your belly sink in as the breath leaves you. As you get better at this you can use your hands to resist your stomach slightly as you breath in, and press in slightly with your hands as you breath out. Don’t get dizzy. Start with only 2 or 3 breaths and work up to 10 as you get stronger.
6. Groin: Place the flat of your hand on the front of your groin, right where your underwear falls. Make a scooping motion in the groin, rolling your hand from the thumb to the little finger. Imagine that your hands are the bottom of a water wheel.
7. Back of knee: Place the flat fingers of both hands behind your knee. Perform a scooping motion up towards the body.
8. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 6 (waist and groin areas)
A very special Thanks to Katy from
LymphedemaTherapists · Lymphedema Therapists
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