As a lymphatic massage therapist, I usually finish a massage with a stimulating, full-body dry brushing. It gets the blood flowing and increases circulation. It also stimulates the lymphatic capillary mesh to pick up fluid and begin its way into the lymphatic vessels (lymphangions) toward the lymph nodes.
When I'm brushing, I usually describe what I'm doing and encourage my client to dry brush her own body for a couple of minutes before showering. That very delicate capillary mesh passively picks up interstitial fluid. Since it has no flaps or valves or pumps, this "mesh" responds to this brushing of the surface of the skin. Goose bumps are a good sign that dry brushing is doing its job.
Even though I always suggest dry brushing, I became a true believer once I saw how a certain client's body responded. It was almost miraculous, and I repeat the story here.
Let's call my client Ann. Ann had a complete mastectomy and reconstruction of her right breast about twelve years ago. When I met her, her right breast, about 10 o'clock, was very hard, as if there was a baseball just beneath the surface of the skin. There was also a pink bruise at that location. Her oncologist had been telling her for twelve years to seek out a lymphatic massage to soften that area. She finally booked an appointment.
After an hour of focused massage, I was astonished at how much her breast tissue had softened. She exclaimed that she couldn't believe the difference. "It almost feels like my old breast," she said. I dry brushed her to finish the massage and told her to keep at it. Then she made an appointment for the following month.
When I saw her the next month, I was really surprised to see that her breast had remained very soft, and the discoloration had almost disappeared. Her breast tissue was very nearly like it was after her first lymphatic massage the previous month. Of course, I asked her what she had done differently.
"I did nothing different," she said. "I dry brushed every day, just like you told me."
A success story, indeed! Now, every individual is unique, and some bodies respond to certain protocols better than others. But after seeing the results Ann got from daily dry brushing, and its effect on her lymphatic system; I upped my own dry brushing practice!
It only takes a minute or two before jumping in the shower or bath. Bonus! It sloughs off dry skin, too. Wash those dry flakes down the drain.
You don't have to do it before bathing, though. You can also do it before getting dressed in the morning. A word of warning, though; you might not want to dry brush your skin in the evening before bed because it really is stimulating. It'll wake up your senses and possibly disturb your sweet sleep.
So what kind of brush do you need? I like those simple natural bristled brushes like the oval brush above. You can find them anywhere for about $5. If you're recovering from surgery and have limited reach, find one with a long handle. The long brush with the black bristles is an antique lint brush I found at a store in Houston last weekend. I love it because it's slightly softer and feels so lovely on the face. I tested it out on a regular client the other day, and she agreed.
You want to start at your extremities and brush up toward the center of your body. From the toes toward your bikini line, and from your fingertips toward your armpits. On the torso, you want to envision your navel as the top of the mountain, from wich fluid flows. It is also the intersection of your torso into four quadrants.
Follow the natural path of the fluid toward the appropriate lymph nodes, and you'll do great. Truth is, on the torso, you'll see a lot of differing suggestions. To me, You can't really do it wrong. You just want to wake up that lymphatic mesh to get moving.
I mentally say, "Wake up, lymphatic capillary mesh. Wake up and do your job!" But you don't have to say that, out loud or silently. Just dry brush, that's all!
You! Do it, and you'll be on your way to excellent lymphatic health.