In our fast-paced modern lifestyles, we often neglect the crucial systems that keep our bodies in optimal health. One such system is the lymphatic system, an intricate network of vessels and nodes that plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
In this article, we will delve into the practical tips and techniques to promote better lymphatic flow in your lower limbs.
Whether you’re seeking relief from persistent leg swelling, seeking ways to enhance your exercise recovery, or simply aiming to boost your overall well-being, this guide will equip you with valuable insights and actionable steps to optimize lymphatic function and unleash the full potential of your legs.
How to Manually Drain Your Legs at Home?
Below is a step-by-step guide I give my clients to help drain their legs at home between their lymphatic drainage sessions.
Remember that you want to have light pressure and keep your hands relaxed. You also want to ensure that you can stretch the skin as far as it can go. If you feel the muscle, you are pushing too hard.
- Perform a gentle massage to promote lymphatic drainage in your legs by starting from the inside and moving outward. Begin at the top of your affected leg, softly touching your inner thigh. Using a sweeping, circular motion, press your hands outward and then back towards yourself, gently moving the skin as you go. Repeat this motion ten times at each position, gradually moving down your leg until you reach your foot. If getting your calf becomes challenging, you can bend your leg for easier access to massage it.
- Enhance lymphatic flow by massaging the skin from outside your leg to the inside. Start at the top of your leg once again, but place your hands on the outside of your thigh this time. Glide your hands towards your inner thigh, slightly moving the skin as you go. Repeat each motion ten times and continue moving down your leg until you reach your foot. It’s important to note that manual drainage can cause dehydration, so remember to drink plenty of water afterward to rehydrate your body.
- Shift your focus to your calves and ankles, moving your hands downward and repeating the motions. Remember to incorporate a stretching movement as you massage, pulling your skin upwards toward your knee. This action aids in facilitating the drainage of excess fluid in your lower legs, utilizing the lymph node located near your knee. Keep in mind the stretch and release technique as you work on your calves and ankles, promoting improved lymphatic circulation in these areas.
- Do not forget about your toes. Your toes tend to swell as well. Place your index finger and thumb on the base of your toe. Apply pressure towards your foot and repeat this on each toe three times.
- When you are in the bath or shower, you want to take your luffa in circulator motions starting from your ankles and moving your way up to your hip. You want to make sure that you apply more pressure towards your heart. This will help increase your circulation and reduce the swelling caused by the stuck lymph in your legs.
- If the skin goes red after the massage, it just means that the muscle has warmed up, which is normal. Apply less pressure next time. If the skin is red before you start massaging, do not do the self-massage. This can be a sign of an infection.
- This message should not cause you any pain or discomfort
- If you have an infection, do not do self-massage.
What Tools Can You Use for Manual Lymph Drainage of Your Legs?
Below are a few tools that you can use at home to help reduce the swelling in your legs. I tell my clients to use these tools between their sessions with me so that they can get the most out of their treatment journey.
Incorporate the rejuvenating effects of a trampoline into your routine to enhance blood flow and promote lymphatic drainage.
Spend approximately 10 minutes engaging in light, slow jumping on the trampoline. This low-impact exercise method minimizes joint strain while strengthening your tissues, supporting a healthy lymphatic system.
2. Infrared Sauna
Harness the benefits of infrared saunas to elevate your body’s temperature and improve blood and lymph flow.
By visiting an infrared sauna once a week, you can experience the relaxing effects on your muscles while facilitating the movement of toxins throughout your body. This increase in circulation aids in optimizing lymphatic drainage and promotes overall well-being.
3. Pneumatic Compression Device
Utilize a pneumatic compression device to encourage lymphatic fluid movement in your affected leg(s).
This device has a sleeve that fits over your leg and connects to a pump. The intermittent compression provided by the sleeve gently squeezes the affected limb, aiding in the displacement of lymphatic fluids and directing them toward your torso for improved drainage.
Employ bandaging techniques to stimulate lymphatic flow back towards your trunk. Securely wrap a bandage around your affected leg, starting from your toes and gradually progressing upwards to your thigh.
The bandage should be snug around your toes and gradually loosen as it ascends. This method helps facilitate the return of lymph to your trunk, supporting efficient lymphatic drainage.
I always show my clients how to bandage their legs in their session before they go home and do it themselves. You must ask your therapist how to bandage your legs properly so that the flow increases, and you do not cause further blockages in your legs.
When is the Best Time To Do Manual Lymphatic Drainage On Your Legs?
This is a tricky question to answer because it depends on the person and their condition. The rule of thumb is as follows:
The mornings are best to help reduce the swelling in your legs that is caused during the night.
Late afternoon and evenings are best for those who struggle to fall asleep.
If you are boarding a plane, you should have a lymphatic drainage massage the day before or the morning you will take your flight. The day after you get off the plane, you should book your next lymphatic drainage session so that the therapist can reduce the swelling caused by the plane ride.
Things to Avoid to Improve Lymphatic Drainage in Your Legs
- Opt for clothing that allows unrestricted blood flow and supports healthy circulation in your legs by avoiding tight-fitting garments. Clothes that are too snug can negatively impact the flow of blood, potentially leading to circulatory issues. Instead, choose loose-fitting pants and underwear that do not dig into your skin. Opt for clothing that provides ample room for movement and allows you to sit comfortably without constriction. Prioritizing comfortable and non-restrictive attire will help maintain optimal blood flow and promote overall leg health.
- Avoid foods that make you retain water, such as lots of salt, nightshade foods, and lots of sugar.
- For my clients that have severe swelling, I tell my clients to avoid wearing socks. If your feet are cold, wear loose socks, but if possible, avoid them, as the socks create a blockage in your feet.
Aftercare for Manual Lymphatic Drainage in Your Legs
- Loosen tight clothing.
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily and an extra glass on the days you do lymphatic drainage.
- Do not drink coffee or alcohol when you have your professional treatment.
- Avoid hot baths for 24 hours.
- Reduce the amount you smoke.
- Consume lighter foods for 48 hours after your lymphatic drainage treatment.
Our lymphatic system plays a crucial role in maintaining your overall health. Optimizing the lymphatic drainage in your legs will benefit your health in the long run.
By implementing the above guide and sticking with the aftercare advice I have given in this article, your legs will drain better, you will feel healthier, and the swelling will go down. Lymphatic drainage in your legs can also help reduce the appearance of cellulite.