For the majority of spa therapists, job satisfaction centres around the joy of making people “feel good”. The ‘feel good’ range of body work treatments extends from just inducing a state of pure relaxation to providing therapeutic benefits to reduce temporary or chronic pain.
By becoming a qualified Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage specialist (also known as Lymphatic Massage therapist) you are enabled to uniquely fulfill both ends of the goal posts, specifically healthy clients who just want a rejuvenating massage and those facing medical issues.
However, it is the health aspects that persuade most people to seek-out this massage modality as it helps resolve a number of potential or current ailments in a non-invasive manner. For example, it relieves pain and swelling for people suffering from lymphedema, fibromyalgia and women having trouble breastfeeding. Since the massage stimulates lymph flow, it helps enhance the immune system by cleansing out unwanted products.
With so much value to over-all health, it is understandable why lymphatic drainage massage is becoming more widely known. As a result, demand for therapists holding valid accreditation, such as CIBTAC or BISA, is on the rise in hospitals, health care facilities, medical spas and day spas.
The Basics: What is the lymphatic system all about
The lymphatic body system is not one that is on the tip of most people’s tongue. Most do not even realize that the tonsils and spleen are part of the lymphatic system, both working hard to collect excess fluid from the tissues, purify it and return it to the blood stream.
It essentially picks up viruses, bacteria, excess fluid and waste products through its vessels and transports it to the lymph nodes located in key places such as the neck, armpits, groin and tailbone. The abundance of white blood cells found in these nodes cleans ‘the lymph’ before it rejoins the blood stream in a healthier version.
Many people do not realize that if the lymph system is not working properly it has far-reaching health effects, even as simple as causing swelling, infection, sluggish immunity and susceptibility to colds and flues. Without this little talked about system, our bodies would swell up with stagnant fluid, leaving us looking like a human balloon. So it is well worthwhile to ensure that it functions properly.
Problems helped with Lymphatic Drainage Treatments
One of the primary beneficiaries are those with lymphedema, an accumulation of fluid (lymph), which is characterized by swelling and discomfort on or near the affected areas. It frequently occurs after lymph nodes are surgically removed. Around 25% of women suffer from painful lymphedema after a mastectomy.
Furthermore, lymphedema in the legs can happened following prostrate, bladder, colon or melanoma surgery, or develop after an infection or radiation treatments.
For unknown reasons, it can also occur at any time of life and can affect up to all four limbs and / or other body parts.
It is also been proven to help women with breastfeeding problems by opening up plugged ducts. This makes for healthier babies and happier mothers.
Similarly, lymphatic drainage can reduce fluid retention through a better functioning circulatory system, especially if you have swollen joints. A few claim it as a method to lose weight, but obviously it is not sufficient solely on its own merits in the long term. It is better utilized when there are specific problem areas such as a swollen ankle caused by a sprain or just excess water.
As the immune system is also closely linked with the lymphatic system, an efficient functioning lymph system equates to the production of antibodies that fight off infections.
Tissue Regeneration after Injury or Surgery
Lymphatic drainage massage can also complement sports massage by cleaning the tissue of debris after the tissue is deeply massaged. Regular sessions during the healing process accelerate tissue regeneration.
Similarly, using lymph system massage techniques can help surgical scars heal by drawing away toxins, restoring circulation, and speeding up tissue and cell regeneration.
The Flow of Lymphatic Massage
Only light pressure needs to be applied in order to push the fluids into the nodes. The concept is to stimulate lymphatic openings by manually assisting the movement of lymphatic fluid with gentle and rhythmic pumping movements. Too much pressure is counter-productive.
Generally, a skilled practitioner starts at the neck chain to release nodes that could be overloaded with metabolic waste. This serves to move it into the lymphatic system to step up drainage.
Next the auxiliary lymph nodes located just under the armpits are gently massaged in order to move lymph to the heart and liver where it will use what is needed and get rid of the rest. Light pressure around the lymph nodes along the body’s trunk and abdomen increases the pace of drainage.
Starting at the inside of the thighs with long strokes the flow of lymph is further accelerated. For post-surgical clients, the knee caps are particularly worked on as anesthesia is often left in the body’s cells.
How to Train to Become a Lymphatic Massage Professional
Looking for a rewarding career? Opportunities are abundant for qualified lymphatic drainage therapists – work alongside doctors at hospitals or medical spas, create a niche skill in a day spa or sustain your own freelance wellness business
Most reputable day spas, medical spas and health care facilities require accreditation from a recognized organization. The Bali International Spa Academy, commonly known as BISA, offers a CIBTAC Diploma in Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage, as well as their own 10 day BISA Certification course.
The CIBTAC course requires 50 hours of work in a spa environment and 15 days of training at BISA, plus an additional 20 hours of self- study. A CIBTAC diploma is accepted almost universally.
However if you are an American citizen, the best resource to find an accredited school is the Lymphatic Association of North America known as LANA.
Wherever you choose to train, the rewards of giving people a new lease on life —- whether it is relief from pain, stress or just a short respite from the pressures of daily life —- it will be a turning point in your life.