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Lymphatic Drainage Massage At Home: What Is It & How Does It Work?

The Ultimate Guide - All You Need to KNOW

December 24, 2020 0 comments
guide to lymphatic drainage at home

What are the main purposes of lymphatic drainage massage at home? If you are not sure then anti aging and weight loss biohacking are on the top of the list.

People are quickly resorting to lymphatic drainage at home. But why is it so? With the coronavirus threatening the human race, spending more time indoors is ideal. Besides, because getting a lymphatic drainage massage done professionally on a regular basis is pretty expensive.

Have you been wondering how to eliminate the puffiness in your lymph nodes by yourself? The puffiness can be annoying, and going the DIY way could just be the ideal move for you.

But before we get to the details, what is the lymphatic system, and how does it work?

What Is the Lymphatic System?

The human body has two main circulatory systems; the blood circulation system and the lymphatic system. The blood circulatory system carries blood, which contains all the nutrients and minerals, while the lymphatic system transports lymph, which is a clear fluid through the arteries (1).

It is not normal that we need to get our blood circulatory system back on track because we have a heart that pushes the blood. However, we do not have the same for the lymphatic system. This is one of the reasons why the system gets sluggish sometimes.

If the lymphatic system gets a bit sluggish, there will be an accumulation of the lymph fluid. The fluid doesn’t accumulate rapidly. The process is gradual, and you most likely will not notice until when the accumulation is getting out of hand.

In the case of accumulation, a lymphatic drainage massage would help eliminate fluid accumulation in the cells. The massage entails smooth pressing of the skin, which gets the fluid moving.

How Does the Lymphatic System Work

The role of the lymphatic system is to manage fluids in the body. It also helps in the elimination of waste in the body. Very important in keeping the digestive system, the blood, and the immune system in a proper functional condition.

Natural movements are essential for the proper functioning of the lymphatic system.

Therefore, with minimal muscle movement, there tends to be an accumulation of lymph fluid, which may eventually lead to lymphedema.

what is lymphedema

When people get lymphedema, many misinterpret it for the fat build-up and start looking for biohacking weight tips. The thing is, work-outs will not free accumulated lymph nodes. Therefore, before you get into any program, ensure you have been rightfully (2) diagnosed.

What are The Signs of Lymphedema?

signs of lymphedema

Are you suspecting that you could be having lymphedema? Here are some possible signs and symptoms for lymphedema to look out for:

  • Swelling in your legs or arms
  • Discomfort and pain
  • Infections that keep recurring
  • Difficulties in moving
  • A skin and feels thicker and harder
  • A feeling of tightness

Are you experiencing any of these signs? This could imply that you need to get a lymphatic drainage massage.

Lymphatic Drainage at Home

What idea crosses your mind when you hear of lymphatic drainage? My guess would be a complex spa treatment or possibly some surgery crosses your mind, right? Fortunately, it can be a lot simpler than spa massages or surgeries.

what is lymphatic drainage

You can eliminate fluids from your lymph nodes from the comfort of your house.

There are a lot of benefits of lymphatic drainage massage at home. Here are some of the top reasons why you should prepare for your first lymphatic drainage massage at home.

11 Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage at Home

When many people hear ‘manual lymphatic drainage benefits,’ the only benefit that crosses their minds is #1 keeping the lymphatic system in check. Yes, this is the main benefit, but there is more to a manual lymphatic drainage massage than just enhancing the lymphatic operations.

These are some of the other benefits of the lymphatic drainage massage your body probably needs: –

benefits of lymphatic drainage massage

  1. Keeping the lymphatic system in check
  2. Quickens the lymphatic system
  3. Improves blood circulation
  4. Aids the elimination of excess interstitial fluid
  5. Good for tissue regeneration
  6. Helps in water retention
  7. Lightens the body
  8. Energizes your body
  9. Good for the elimination of toxins
  10. Boosts the immune system
  11. Speeds up the lymphatic flow

Of course, the lymphatic system is the primary beneficiary of the lymphatic drainage massage, but the entire body will have a piece of this cake.

How to Prepare for the Lymphatic Drainage at Home

how to get ready for lymphatic drainage at home

Before you get to the lymphatic drainage massage, you need to get your environment and the body in the right condition.

Below are the best ways to get you ready for a home lymphatic drainage massage.

Get hydrated

You should be well hydrated before any massage, not just a lymphatic drainage massage. Hydration boosts your body’s ability to detox itself. So, before your manual massage, takes lots of water.

A day or two before your massage, drink at least eight glasses of water per day. How will you know you are well-hydrated? Clear urine is the best sign.

Chances of increasing the post-massage illness when you are dehydrated are high. You want to feel good and energized after the massage, so take lots of water as you prepare.

Get the Items Needed for the Massage Ready

If you have slippery skin, you need to get oil or lotion for the lymphatic drainage massage.

Also, ensure you get a dry brush for the process. If you are shopping for a brush, the perfect bristles will be something gentle against your skin yet firm enough to dislodge the lymph nodes. Get a lymphatic drainage tool ready too.

Warm-Up both Your Body and Your Room

When it is cool, the lymphatic vessels shrink. It becomes difficult for the liquid to flow out of the system in this shrunken state. Therefore, ensure you warm up your body by taking a hot shower and have your room heated. This makes the vessels larger hence enhancing a better flow of the liquid.

Also, varying temperatures in the shower may help squeeze the fluid out of the lymphatic vessels.

The Actual Lymphatic Drainage Massage

It is time to get down to the real business, now that you are ready and well aware of the benefits of the lymphatic drainage massage.

Here is how to perform a simple yet effective 2-step lymphatic drainage massage:

Dry Brushing

dry bushing for lymphatic massage

Start brushing from your feet moving upwards. Use circular motions moving upwards. Each particular point should have at least 3-5 circular motions. Continue with the upward movement until you have covered the entire lower limb.

Repeat the circular and upward motion process on your groin, buttock muscles, and hamstring.

Once you have brushed both legs’ lower limbs, it’s time to get to the upper limb. Position your hands at around 60 degrees, with your palms flat on a surface. Brush from your armpits towards your heart. Pass the brush down your neck, collar bone and abdomen regions, and armpits. These regions host lymph nodes too.

Insert some pressure while still being gentle enough not to hurt your skin.

Drainage Paddling

paddling for lymphatic drainage massage at home

Now, using the drainage paddle, start from your feet again. Keep in the same direction and motion. The soft pumping of the paddle should steer the fluid towards the lymph nodes.

This is more time-consuming than brushing. However, it is gentler on your skin. Ensure every particular spot gets at least 5-7 rotations.

What to Expect from Your Home Lymphatic Drainage Massage


Before anything else, ensure you get the best from your lymphatic drainage massage and ensure you are relaxed. Do not rush anything.

Once you are done with your massage, your skin will have a pinkish tint. The pinkish tint signifies the enhanced blood in your body. Also, you may feel exhausted and thirsty after the process. This is why you need to rest well and be well hydrated before you start the massage.

Daily Methods to Stimulate the Lymphatic System

You do not have to get the massages daily to have your lymphatic system in check. Simple and gentle activities could help stimulate the proper function of your lymphatic system.

Here are some of the daily activities that guarantee you a happy lymphatic system:

Dry Brushing

Use a dry and bristle brush to brush the skin. Ensure it is not too bristle to hurt your skin. Keep the movements circular and towards the heart. Apply some little pressure to have the fluid moving. Also, pay attention to areas with lymph nodes.

Contrast Showers and Baths

Your lymphatic system loves the sudden shift in your body temperature. When you get to the shower, use the normal water temperatures you use, then after a few moments, switch it to higher than usual.

Keep it warmer than usual for a few moments, just enough to expand your lymphatic muscles. The next step is to switch to cooler water. The cold water will constrict your lymphatic vessels and hence squeezing the fluid out of the vessels.

Get Salt of Coffee Scrubs


Massaging salt or coffee scrub on your skin allows your skin to permeate well. When using these kinds of scrubs, make circular motions towards the heart just like you do during the lymphatic drainage massage.

Also, ensure you pay keen attention to areas that host the lymph nodes.

Use Lymph Massage Tools

Your dry brush and your lymph drainage paddle are the best tools for lymphatic drainage massage. While using them, always work from the ankles moving towards the groin, and later the heart. Always apply a considerable amount of pressure; strong enough to keep the fluids moving but gentle enough not to hurt your skin.

100 Morning Jumps

As soon as your wake-up, do 100 jumps. While at it, keep your toes on the floor and just touching the floor with your heels. Try doing it faster as you concentrate on deeper breathing.


When one of the limbs is swollen, chances are it is lymphedema. Mostly, the swelling occurs on a single limb, but sometimes both limbs can swell from lymph fluid accumulation.

Sometimes, the swelling affects the neck, belly and face.

Who is the most vulnerable to lymphedema? Cancer patient that has undergone cancer treatment have high chances of developing lymphedema. This is because the lymph nodes are sometimes removed as part of cancer treatment. Sometimes, even when not removed, the cancer treatment damage lymph nodes.

Destroyed lymph nodes will result in a sluggish flow of the lymphatic fluid. This means the fluid will accumulate over time, which will show on the outside as swelling.

There is no particular medication for lymphedema. However, the two-step lymphatic drainage massage procedure can help get the flow back on track.

The clearing and reabsorption technique works excellently in the treatment of lymphedema.

Clearing and Reabsorption


Try doing this, press your thumb hard against your palm or heel. Watch as the blood disperses and later rushes back. This is precisely how the clearing of the lymph nodes will work. When you clear the lymph nodes, you create a void space, and the lymph fluid will flow right back.

The clearing and reabsorption technique works in:

  • Lymph inside the elbows
  • Lymph nodes in the armpits
  • The area under the collar bones

How do you clear the lymphatic drainage at home? Read below to find the details of clearing specific areas.

 Clearing the Lymph Area under the Collar Bones

Here is the procedure to clear the lymph area under the collar bones:

  • Lay flat and ensure you are comfortable
  • Cross your hands over your chest. While still having your hands diagonally over your chest, let your palms rest over your collarbones
  • Raise your elbows slowly, without uncrossing your arms
  • Repeat this ten times

These simple movements will create a vacuum in your lymph area in your collarbone.

Clearing the Lymph Area under the Arms

Here is how to clear the lymph area under your arms:

  • Put one of your hands on your head
  • Scoop your underarm with the other hand
  • Repeat the process with the other arm

Apply some pressure to move the skin in a scooping force from top to bottom.

Clearing the Lymph Area Inside the Elbow

To clear the lymph nodes in the inside of your elbow;

  • Stand straight
  • straighten your forearms and make them parallel to the ground
  • Use one hand and pull the skin on your inner elbow and stretch it out. Repeat this with the other hand

How to Drain the Lymph Fluid from the Legs

Draining the excess and stagnant lymph fluids from your legs will keep the fluids moving and help you eliminate toxins from the body.

Here is how to drain the lymphatic areas in the legs from the comfort of your house:

  • Start by massaging your upper body. It is ideal to massage the upper body before draining the lymphatic areas in the lower body.
  • As you massage, the pressure you exert should be gentle enough not to get to the muscles below the skin
  • Start by massaging from the farthest point of your swelling. For example, if the swelling is more prominent around the ankle, start massaging from the groin.
  • While still being gentle, stretch the inside skin of your leg towards your hip. Continue with this downward motion until you get to your knees.
  • From here, stretch the skin towards the skin. For a more stimulating session, use alternating hands.
  • Keep repeating this process 15 times

This process will clear up both your upper and lower body.

Reabsorption of the Lymphatic Fluid

Reabsorption is the second crucial step in a lymphatic massage. Now that you have the lymphatic areas cleared in both the upper and lower body, how do we have the fluid reabsorbed back, or rather, to keep the flow consistent?

Here, look at how to initiate a reabsorption process in both the upper and lower body.

Initiating Reabsorption in the Upper Body

Glide up on the skin surface affected by lymphedema. Exert just enough pressure. Start from the farthest point of the swelling. If it is more prominent on your lower arm, start from your shoulder.

Follow this when you glide over the affected hands:

Fingertips to hand–> hand to elbow –> elbow to shoulder.

Initiating Reabsorption in the Legs


To initiate reabsorption in your legs, follow these simple steps:

  • Place your palms flat at the back of your knees
  • Press the back of the knee with an upward motion
  • Repeat this process 15 times

Measuring the Effectiveness of Lymphatic Drainage Massage at Home

measuring-effectiveness for lymphatic drainage massage at home

How will you know that your lymphatic drainage massages are working? When the swelling doesn’t get any bigger, that’s a good sign. Do not expect overnight success with the swelling. As long as it is not getting any bigger, you are doing well. The swelling will disappear gradually.

The massage is more focused on preventing the lymphedema from worsening.

Side Effects of the Lymphatic Drainage Massage

The lymphatic massage helps the body function as it should. This means that it has no severe side effects when you do it yourself.

Its side effects largely depend on how you perform it. This is why you have to follow the steps of the procedures keenly.

Have these tips close to your heart if you want to evade the side effects of lymphatic drainage massage:

  • Always work your lymph massages towards the heart
  • The movement downwards should be from the belly to the groin

Who is more at Risk of Lymphatic Drainage System?

If you have any of the following, you may want to keep massages because you may end up with some severe side effects.

These make you vulnerable to lymphatic massage side effects:

  • Pregnancy
  • Infections
  • Kidney and liver problems
  • Stroke problems
  • Blood clotting failure
  • Congestive heart failure

Always consult your doctor before a lymphatic drainage massage.

Lymphatic Drainage at Home vs. by Professional


Lymphatic massages by a professional will help you relax better, and you will enjoy the benefits better. A lymphatic drainage massage involves both deep strokes and gentle exertions. An expert knows how much pressure to react to, so the results will be better.

However, the professional massages are ridiculously expensive, especially now with the pandemic. The super-cheap aspect makes the home massages a more attractive option.

The thing, however, is they have a less contoured effect compared to a professional massage.

However, to achieve something similar or closer to what a professional does once a week, you will need to do it ideally thrice a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you do lymphatic drainage on yourself?

Do-it-yourself lymphatic drainage is so simple. You can have it three times a week at home to get your lymphatic system in check.

Is lymphatic drainage a real thing?

The benefits of lymphatic drainage are real. It is a necessary procedure in fighting lymphedema and getting rid of toxins and wastes from the body.

How often should you have a lymphatic drainage massage?

This will depend on whether you get it professionally done or whether you opt for do-it-yourself. Once per week, the therapist will work correctly. However, if you choose to do-it-yourself, thrice a week should be a perfect match, or something closer to what a therapist will achieve once a week.

Can you lose weight with lymphatic drainage?

can you lose weight with lymphatic drainage

There is no direct link between lymphatic massages and biohacking weight. However, there could be a possibility of shedding some weight through the lymphatic drainage massages. This is because the lymphatic drainage system stimulates the heart’s proper function and the immune system. A healthy heart and cardiovascular system and a strong immune system have a link to reversing weight gain.

How long does lymphatic drainage take to work?

With the best relaxing conditions, you will enjoy the benefits of the massage immediately after. After the massage, you will immediately feel lightness from the heavy swelling and a calming effect. However, the fluid drainage will take place 24-48 hours. So, as the lymphatic drainage process is still up to 2 days later, ensure you stay hydrated two days after your massage.

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