In my last post, I talked about 6 Signs That Your Body Isn't Detoxing and the six major detoxification organs or systems.
One of my favorites detox systems is the lymphatic system, which we are going to continue talking about today. The lymph system is super important for us to get toxins out of our body.
With that in mind, today I will focus on the 5 types of massage that actually help us detox through our lymphatic systems.
I will cover the following 5 types of massages:
One of the MindBody tricks I use for detoxification is receiving a lot of bodywork for maintenance health.
Bodywork helps keep ourselves strong and healthy. It is a fantastic thing to do if you start to feel a little rundown or tired or had a tough week or are experiencing an autoimmune flare up. Just go and get body work!
One of my favorite, most enjoyable types of bodywork is massage.
With massage, there can be a wide range of types. Today, I want to focus on five different types of massage and why you should get them. I'll also discuss when you should opt for one over the other.
The first one I will be discussing today is a type of massage that is generally called a lymphatic drainage massage. This is generally a really light touch massage.
It is very surface-based. We have lymph nodes and lymph vessels that travel all through our body and there's lymph nodes that collect around our head and in our armpits, then down our entire spine, and into our groin. As they travel, they then go into the lymph vessels. Resulting in travel throughout our whole body.
So the lymphatic drainage type of massage will be really light surface and it focuses on pumping the fluid, from all of our lymph nodes and into the vessels towards the heart so it can flush out.
This is a really fantastic massage, especially for people who are particularly sensitive or for those that have a really low pain threshold. Also a fantastic option for those that are uncomfortable or sore after they get massages.
If you get a lymphatic drainage massage, you usually won't have those post-massage side effects. This type of massage will help boost your immune system and get everything flowing and flushed out of your body through your lymph. It's super light touch, usually available at spas or higher end massage places.
Next, I am going to share four additional types of massages that also help drain the lymphatic systems, but it's not necessarily specifically a lymph massage.
When you sign up for a massage at any run of the mill massage place, you'll probably be receiving a relaxation massage. Now, the most common one that you might see on a spa menu or at a massage place, would be called a Swedish massage, aromatherapy massage or an oil massage. Sometimes you can even add hot stones to the massage at some places. (A technique which they warm up smooth, round stones and use them during the massage instead of hands. The heat helps calm down chronic pain and break up old scar tissue in the muscles.)
This type of massage promotes a flushing of the body tissues using a technique called Effleurage. They go a bit deeper than a lymphatic massage, but they are still really great and do well at getting lymph fluids moving in your body. The relaxation massage is a really easy one to find at any place that offers massage.
The relaxation massage is not very deep, but rather has more flowy movement. Its main function is getting the body to relax, but at the same time it's going to push fluids through your lymph system and help you drain- making this massage another fantastic way for your body to detox while enjoying a standard relaxation massage.
One thing you want to keep in mind is if you do have any chemical sensitivities or you have a high chemical burden and you're trying to detox, you want to make sure that the place that you're getting a massage is using high-quality oils. If they are using any scented oils, be sure that they are using pure, high-grade essential oils. You do not want them using some sort of synthetic oil because that's actually going to do the opposite of what you're trying to do, which is detox all of these chemicals out of your body.
The third one is a large group of various types of massages called trigger points, or trigger point release massages. There's a lot of different specifications between these different techniques, but in general, these tend to be a little bit deeper than the relaxation massage. You might see it labeled on a spa menu as a deep tissue massage or a sports massage.
Basically it involves getting deeper into the body tissues, not hitting the surface drainage of the skin or just a relaxation technique. This type of massage is getting in deeper and releasing some tension in tightly held muscles and releasing knots that you may have. A sports massage is really helpful. It still drains the lymphatics, but rather than focusing on that, it actually goes deeper and starts to break up scar tissue that we might be holding in our muscle or in our fascia. (This is generally the type of massage that I personally prefer.)
There are a couple other specialized names that you might see this as on a spa menu. You could see it listed as a Shiatsu style massage, which is a Japanese technique. This one is often done on the floor. You are laying on the floor and the practitioner would use their hands and maybe even their feet to get really deep into trigger points. I've really enjoyed, Shiatsu style massages.
IMPORTANT TIP: One thing I do want to caution you on is if you're getting a floor-type massage in which you're laying on the floor and you're laying on your stomach, you want to be sure that your neck is supported in certain ways.
Sometimes the practitioners will just have you turn your head flat and lay on the floor. However, if they are applying pressure on your back, that might actually cause a bit more stress on your neck or your posture in that way. So be sure to look for a place that has good pillows or cradles that are even on the floor that will help support your neck as you're laying face down.
Another form of the trigger point release massage, as well as our preferred massage that Dr. Chiu and I look for, is a type of massage called Tuina. It is a Chinese medicine based technique in which they use meridians and trigger points. It is very similar to deep tissue, but they are following a flow that comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine.
They often still use oil, so you're getting the relaxation, but they're also working with the meridian system with this type of massage. This one is a bit harder to find by name. However, if you look for anywhere that offers foot reflexology massage, they usually offer full body massage. If you ask for a Body Massage, then they are going to pretty much be doing the Tuina massage technique.
The fourth type that we also really, really enjoy is Thai massage or Thai traditional. Sometimes it's called Thai yoga massage. This is similar to the Shiatsu massage in which you generally lay on the floor or rather like a large bed or floor mattress. The practitioner will usually use their hands and feet and assist you in doing massage and yoga-like stretches. They might also use their feet or walk on the body, but they usually have bars that they hold onto vary the weight and the pressure.
If you've never had a massage in which the practitioner actually walks on you and you're a bit afraid of it, they always use some sort of support beams so that they can lessen the amount of weight or pressure that they're placing on you. If you don't want it as deep, you can always let them know during the massage.
Thai traditional massage is a little different than some of the other massages because they give you a pair of loose Thai pajamas to wear. So you wear clothing during this one and they tend to have a flow in which you either start on your back or on your stomach and they'll work from the feet usually all the way up to the head and they'll turn you on every side and do a lot of trigger point release as well.
They will also do assisted stretching, which is one of the reasons many people love the Thai massage. In Thai Traditional or Thai yoga massage, they will be actively moving your body and stretching you. It is really wonderful because you get much deeper into the stretches then you could if you were to just stretch on your own at home.
Sometimes they offer Combination Thai Massage which is a combination of the traditional Thai and stretching style, plus added oils for massage (like a Swedish or Oil Massage). Combination Thai massage is very enjoyable and somewhat like the best of both worlds!
This Thai type of massage will also perform deep tissue release get in and break up any sort of scar tissue.
The fifth type of massage is localized massages. This is where they will focus on a specific area of massage.
One of the most common ones that you will see is foot reflexology. This generally is coming from the traditional Chinese medicine perspective in which there are acupuncture points on the bottom of our feet that access the health of our whole body and our whole system. So they will do a massage, mostly focusing on the feet and doing all the little points in the meridians. Some people who are super ticklish or don't like their feet massaged probably won't enjoy a foot reflexology massage. However, it is something you can build up the tolerance for. When you do, it helps calm your nervous system and address whole body help with the meridian points on the bottom of your feet.
My feet used to be really ticklish and I was able to overcome it with time and practice. Often in foot reflexology, they will still massage the rest of your body with your clothes on. Usually it starts with a foot soak and they spend the majority of the time doing acupressure points on the feet and then they will massage the rest of the body, including the arms, the hands, the head, other types of specialized or a localized massages.
There is one that is really not as common but is super amazing, as well as great for your immune system. Plus it really helps with your detoxification if you can find it. It is called Visceral Organ Massage. This is where a practitioner will actually mostly focus on your belly and they'll get into your organs and start moving things around.
Some reason our culture and practitioners usually don't touch the front of our body unless they're doing an occasional abdominal exam. But there is actually a lot of benefits of getting bodywork touch and massage in the front of our body, particularly our bellies where our visceral organs are. They move around all day, and if we're not breathing properly or we're just sitting around all day and we're not active and exercising, our organs are not getting the proper type of movement that they need.
You can actually look for specific people who focus on the visceral organ massage. There're practitioners (a lot of chiropractors, osteopaths and specialists) who get extra training to learn how to do visceral organ manipulation so we can make sure that our organs are also getting the movement and that they are in the proper places for highest function.
So if you've never tried any of the above massage techniques, look them up and give it a try. The great thing about massage is that there are millions of wonderful massage practitioners all around the world.
If you're on a trip, you're on a vacation or you're at home, you can always Google or Yelp, as well as get referrals from friends or other bodywork practitioners to give you a referral to somebody who's really knowledgeable. If you're working on some chronic health issues, I really recommend getting a massage once a month, even better, once a week. It can be really beneficial for keeping your immune system active and detoxifying organs as well as relaxing so that your body can switch from a sympathetic fight or flight to a parasympathetic rest and digest.
I wanted to share a trick for keeping the chemicals sensitivities at bay keep the chemicals out of the oils they use during massages.
I recommend grabbing a glass jar (NOT plastic!) and keep your favorite body oil in it. Carry it with you in your purse or leave it in the car. This way, it's always available when you go for a quick last minute massage or have one scheduled. We ALWAYS bring our own oil.
I personally really like coconut oil. However, any oil that you can find that is a really clean body oil. It smells nice and it doesn't stain my clothes. All the massage places are really happy to use your own oils if you bring it along. Don't think that they will have a problem with you bringing your own oils.
Extra bonus tip : you can upgrade your body oil by diluting just a couple of drops of your favorite essential oils into the jar. This way, you can have your own aromatherapy oil that is super high end and extra clean quality.
One of my personal favorites to use sometimes is Deep Blue by Doterra. However, there's a lot of really great blends for massages. If you are interested, comment over on my video and I can provide you with some recipes and recommendations for some of those oils.
If you're heading to your massage appointment and forgot your oil at home, head to the closest Trader Joe's or Sprouts and buy the cheapest little jar of coconut oil that you can find. Ideally an organic, extra virgin coconut oil and take it with you to your next massage.
Check out the livestream to hear more about massage and detox 👉👉👉
I'd love to hear from you in the comments- what's your favorite kind of massage?
Dr. Natasha F