Lymphatic Drainage: What Is It and How Can You Do It At-home?

June 29, 2020

Confused about lymphatic drainage? Join the club. The term is thrown around in skin and body care a lot, and whilst it’s widely accepted as being a “good” thing to do – many don’t really understand why.

From gua sha’ing your cheekbones to dry brushing your bum, we’re all ready to get on board with aiding our lymphatic drainage – but if you’d like to really understand why and how, keep reading…

What is the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system, helping to protect us from infection and disease.

We all have a collection of lymph nodes (in our neck, armpits and groin) that act as a filter. These lymph nodes contain lymphocytes (white blood cells) that attack and break down bacteria, viruses or any other toxins and waste our body doesn’t need. The lymph fluid then passes along our lymphatic system – a network of vessels – carrying the waste products and destroyed bacteria back into the bloodstream where the liver or kidneys can then remove these from the blood.

Why should we manually practice lymphatic drainage techniques?

While the heart continuously pumps blood, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump to help the lymph fluid pass along. Instead, it relies on the movement of muscles and pressure from blood vessels to transport fluid through the lymph vessels. This can be done by exercise – or with manual help, i.e. a lymphatic drainage massage or dry body brushing.

What is lymphatic drainage good for?

How to help lymphatic drainage at home?

There are ways that you can boost your lymphatic drainage system at home. The easiest way is by dry body brushing. It’s simple, affordable and very effective when regularly and routinely carried out. Use a dry body brush before getting in the shower to brush your skin in long, sweeping motions. Start at your feet and brush upwards towards your groin. Brush up your arms towards your armpits. Use circular motions on your torso and back.

Goop G Tox Ultimate Dry Brush,£18

To further aid your lymphatic drainage, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water – this will keep your tissue well-hydrated, helping move out waste materials easier.

What lymphatic drainage treatments are available?

Lymphatic drainage massages can be carried out by a trained practitioner and are one of the best ways to boost your lymphatic drainage system.

Compression garments can also help mimic massage techniques, kick-starting your lymphatic drainage and boosting circulation.

The Body Balancer 505

One of the most popular lymphatic drainage treatments is from The Body Ballancer. This space-age suit acts as a compression garment— squeezing your limbs in upward motions, helping to move lymph fluid along the vessels towards your lymph nodes.

I was kindly gifted a Body Balancer 505 system for an at-home 2-week trial. There are two different machines: a leg and torso garment (which I trialled) and a jacket, which is good for your arms and back.

The Body Ballancer 505 that I trialled is a contraption that looks a bit like Wallace & Gromit’s ‘The Wrong Trousers.’ You basically slip yourself into them, lie back and let the machine that they’re plugged into do all the hard work. There are different settings available – depending on what you want to achieve. There’s post-surgery programmes, body contouring and weight-loss programmes and relaxation settings.

How does The Body Ballancer work?

The Body Ballancer uses inflating compression garments to apply a gentle or firm massage. Each garment contains 24 individual air chambers that overlap to apply fluent compression strokes that target every inch of the treated area. Imagine the chambers of an inflatable lilo, slowly filling with air and wrapped around your limbs.

The best way to describe how it feels is to imagine yourself being slowly squeezed by a boa-constrictor from the toes up. Sounds unpleasant, but it’s actually very relaxing. You choose the pressure, timing and programme you want— and let The Body Ballancer do all the hard work.

The Body Ballancer helps with the removal of waste products and excess fluid via the lymphatic system, reducing the appearance of cellulite, improving skin tone, and reducing volume in areas affected by excess fluid retention. It’s often used by athletes because of the way it improves blood flow around the body, aiding muscle recovery.

The results?

Whilst The Body Ballancer promises big results, during my two-week trial the visible results were minimal. I definitely felt super relaxed after each session and was arguably less bloated— however the dimples on my bum are definitely still there.

Whilst I don’t doubt that The Body Ballancer works, I don’t think two-weeks is long enough to see visible results… so for now at least, it’s back to the dry body brushing for me!

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