Effects of massage on the lymphatic system

® The flow of lymph in the lymphatic vessels is speeded up. As the hands move along in the direction of lymph drainage to the nearest group of lymphatic nodes, the speed of lymph flow is increased. Massage strokes should always be directed towards the nearest set of lymphatic nodes.

Pressure on the tissues will facilitate the transfer of fluid across vessel walls. Fluid from the tissues will pass into the lymphatic vessels and will drain away more quickly; this will prevent or reduce oedema (swelling of the tissues).

Larger particles of waste that are able to pass through the lymphatic vessel walls are removed more quickly.

The pressure and squeezing movements of petrissage are the most effective in reducing oedema, followed by effleurage. This effect is assisted if the part is elevated while being massaged, as gravity will assist drainage. Treatment of oedema using massage is described in Chapter 8.

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