With darker days and colder temperatures, staying healthy in a city like New York can feel daunting. Before you panic and enter fight, flight or flee to a warmer climate mode, fear not. As someone who has lived in New York (and dreaded winter’s arrival) for the last several years, I’ve learned that the real secret to maintaining balance in this unpredictable city is to invest in yourself. A few regular Lymphatic Drainage Massage treatments can support the body’s immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep, regulate digestion and mood— and dare I say keep your skin glowing— during the chaotic seasonal shifts. When these treatments are done consistently over time, they deliver sustained results and even allow for the occasional martini, glass of wine and/or late night french fries because #balance.
This year is no exception. After my initial winter-induced shock, I booked a few key services at Clean Market’s Noho Wellness Lab. Read on for a run down of the what and the why behind these results-driven treatment options:
Lymphatic Drainage Massage: First up was my lymphatic drainage massage, a treatment that’s been gaining recent popularity and for good reason. The lymphatic system is considered the body’s “sewage system” meaning that when our lymph nodes become congested, we may experience weakened immunity, increased stress, bloating, fatigue and other symptoms signifying internal dysbiosis. A treatment like this is designed to specifically stimulate the lymphatic system and reintroduce flow in the body, making it an efficient safeguard against winter and a holiday season abundant in rich foods, drinks and late night celebrations.
The Treatment: Whether it’s your first or 50th session, a lymphatic drainage massage is likely the treatment your body never knew it needed. A lymphatic massage differs significantly from a traditional massage and each treatment varies based on your individual needs (in my case gut support, stress reduction, immunity boost). Our lymphatic systems sit close to the skin’s surface meaning that, unlike a more traditional message, lymphatic massage involves light touch only. A little targeted pressure goes a long way.
The goal of the treatment is to manually palpitate the lymphatic nodes to stimulate drainage and flow to the lymph system, and ultimately, the entire body. My massage therapist began by gently stimulating specific areas to activate the lymph nodes that run throughout the body. She then increased the pressure, undulating from my clavicle to my digestive organs to essentially activate my entire lymphatic system. After the light massage, she followed up with support from an automatic cupping machine to further activate (re. suction) the drainage process, targeting those areas my specific areas that needed additional attention.
Going With My Gut: As someone who has been in a long term turbulent relationship with my digestive system, receiving regular lymphatic drainage massages has helped me to support my overall gastrointestinal health in an effective yet gentle way. For those of us who struggle with our digestion, It’s no surprise that our minds and our guts are inextricably linked. This means that increased stress can trigger increased digestive disturbances and vice versa. The silver lining is that addressing the gut through the lymph system can promote stress reduction and decrease inflammation throughout the body. Manual lymphatic drainage switches on the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s network of nerves that relaxes the body from stressors and also runs processes like digestion). Activating the parasympathetic nervous system via manual lymphatic drainage can increase intestinal motility and relieve pain, inflammation and discomfort in the gastrointestinal system aka all the processes where myself (and many stressed out New Yorkers) need some extra TLC.
Post Massage: if the massage is a “workout” for the lymphatic system, the post massage feeling is that of post workout bliss. As I always do, I left my treatment feeling lighter, with a renewed sense of peace, balance and ready for a deep night’s sleep.
The Aftermath: as with most treatment, the effects of lymphatic drainage are cumulative and the upkeep that happens between sessions can further enhance the benefits. My massage therapist gently reminded me to hydrate with much more water following the treatment (and always) to continue to flush toxins from my system. Throughout the treatment, she also taught me a few easy lymphatic self-massage practices that I can do everyday or whenever I’m starting to feel sluggish or rundown. Other at-home practices and tools like gua sha, dry brushing or jumping on a rebounder are useful ways to practice lymphatic health and hygiene between sessions.
This treatment is for everyone. Whether you’re looking to debloat and look and feel confident at a holiday party or you’re hoping to tackle more ongoing issues surrounding digestion, stress and immunity support, lymphatic drainage may be a positive addition to explore. While my motivating factors are my gut and my immunity, that day after glow and sculpting effect are added benefits that keep me loving my lymph system.
Interested in booking a Lymphatic Drainage Massage treatment? Book here!
About the Author: Justine is a Brooklyn-based integrative health coach and yoga instructor. She works with clients 1x1 to support them with making actionable and accessible improvements to their health while maintaining a joyful, balanced life and feeling their best.