Foot massage is an integral part of many different massage styles. Reflexology is one of the most well-known forms, based on the traditional concept of microsystems, a theory that each part of the body reflects the condition of the whole, and that massaging one area of the body, such as the feet, hands or ears, can treat imbalances of the whole body. Lymph drainage massage, on the other hand, is based on scientific research into the circulation of lymph throughout the body.
Specific areas of the foot are massaged to treat imbalances in other areas of the body. For instance, to treat the spine, the massage therapist would use her thumbs to press in a line along the edge of the foot from the big toe to the heel, spending extra time on any sore spots she finds. To stimulate lymph circulation and the immune system, she would press in a line from one ankle bone to the other across the top of the foot.
Lymph Drainage From the Foot
Although there is no scientific evidence to support the theory that massaging along the front of the ankle joint will stimulate lymph circulation, there is a band of connective tissue around the ankle in that area that can block lymph flow. When lymph circulation in the leg is blocked, from infection, surgery to remove lymph nodes, radiation or other injury, fluid can build up in the leg, causing swelling. In chronic edema of the leg, the swollen tissue will bulge out above and below this fibrous band. Massaging it will release some of the pressure and allow lymph in the foot to move up the leg.
The lymphatic system defends against disease and infection on a cellular level. It distributes white blood cells throughout the body so that they can destroy harmful micro-organisms. The lymphatic system also removes toxins from your tissues, through very small lymph vessels, a lot like blood vessels. These tiny vessels absorb tissue fluid thatwhich contains harmful micro-organisms, microscopic particles, harmful chemicals and waste products from all your cells, and carry it all through lymph nodes, where it is purified. Lymph fluid is then transported back to the venous system where it becomes part of your blood supply.
Lymph Drainage Massage
Lymph drainage massage is a light circular massage designed to move fluid along through lymph vessels to the lymph nodes. In the case of a swollen leg, the massage therapist would start by massaging the lymph nodes in the inguinal region, at the top of your leg. He would then massage slowly down the leg to the foot, moving fluid continuously up toward the nodes. He would work on stretching the band of connective tissue around the ankles and then would massage the foot last.
Foot Massage and Lymphatic Drainage
A combination of a reflexology foot massage, with detailed attention to all the areas of the foot, and lymph drainage massage starting at the lymph nodes and massaging the entire leg and foot, is not only very relaxing but also really does stimulate lymph drainage and your immune system.
- "Milady's Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage;" Ramona Moody French, 2004
- "The Complete Guide to Foot Reflexology;" Barbara Kunz and Kevin Kunz; 2005
- "Foundations of Manual Lymph Drainage;" Michael Foldi, Roman Strossenreuther; 2004