Lymphatic drainage is used to stimulate lymphatic drainage and reduce swelling in the arms and legs. Meanwhile, some manufacturers also advertise that you can perform lymphatic drainage with their massage gun. Whether and to what extent this is actually possible, you will learn from me in the following article.
There are many tools for lymphatic drainage. Massage guns are also among them. They support certain parts of a lymphatic drainage, even if they cannot take over the entire massage. For example, massage guns with a wedge attachment or a D-shaped attachment are very suitable for performing scooping movements and thus moving the lymph fluid in a certain direction. Other steps of lymphatic drainage, such as activation of the terminus, must still be performed manually.
You have now learned in brief that massage guns can be used for lymphatic drainage. Now I would like to deepen this information. To do this, I will first explain what lymphatic drainage is and how to perform it. Then I will go into how the massage gun can be used for lymphatic drainage.
What is Lymphatic Drainage?
Lymphatic drainage is a special medical-massage. It is used for lymphatic and lipedema patients. It can also reduce pain and swelling after (orthopedic) surgery. As the name suggests, the massage stimulates the transport of lymphatic fluid. Gentle grip techniques are used for this purpose.
What are the Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage?
As already explained, lymphatic drainage is primarily intended to stimulate the transport of lymphatic fluid and thus relieve swelling. In addition, this type of massage has numerous other advantages. I have listed the most important ones here:
- Stimulate the transport of lymphatic fluid
- Alleviate swelling
- Reduce pain
- Bring relaxation
- Accelerate wound healing
- Reduce pregnancy edema
How do I perform Lymphatic Drainage?
In principle, lymphatic drainage should only be performed by an expert. This person needs special training for this medical-massage. However, if you want to perform the massage yourself, you should follow the following steps:
- Stimulate the terminus – The first step is to prepare the main stations of the lymphatic channels, i.e. the lymph nodes on the neck. For this purpose, the lymph nodes are stimulated with circular movements.
- Activate central lymph nodes – The next step is to activate the lymph nodes in the areas that are not directly affected by fluid accumulation. These often include the areas around the collarbone, the groin, and the upper abdomen. As a result, you open up the lymphatic channels and allow for better drainage of lymphatic fluid.
- Work on fluid accumulation – Now, you massage the affected areas or work your way into these areas of the body. You usually start at the bottom and massage upward toward the root of the extremities. For example, with the arms, you start at the forearm and massage toward the lymph nodes in the armpits. Areas of the body that are more affected by fluid retention need to be worked on more intensively.
- Conclude manual lymphatic drainage – To conclude the lymphatic drainage, the terminus is again stimulated by circular movements. As a rule, compression is also used after the massage to reduce the renewed fluid retention in the limbs.
Important: lymphatic drainage must not be performed for the following complaints:
- Heart failure
- Acute inflammations
- Very low blood pressure
I can only strongly advise you to have the massage performed by an expert. Lymphatic drainage is not recommended as a self-massage!
How does a Massage Gun work?
Now you know how lymphatic drainage works. In order to be able to assess whether a massage gun can help with this, I would also like to talk about how such a device works:
The way a massage gun works is basically quite simple. A motor inside the gun drives an arm. At the end of this arm is a replaceable attachment. This is quickly moved back and forth by the movement of the motor. This causes the gun to thrust about 1,200 to 3,200 times per minute (depending on the power level set).
The massage gun is moved over the areas to be massaged on the body without pressing on. By adjusting the shock frequency, it is possible to set whether the massage gun is to be used for superficial relaxation to deep trigger point massage. The different attachments, in turn, can be selected to suit the body region to be worked on (see: Massage Gun Attachment Guide – which Attachment to use for each Muscle).
So I can use a Massage Gun for Lymphatic Drainage?
The clear answer is: it depends!
You cannot use massage guns for the entire lymphatic drainage. So you should stimulate the terminus with circular movements. This is not possible with a massage gun. The gun works only with shocks and vibrations.
However, the massage gun can very well be used to move the lymphatic fluid in certain directions. For this purpose, a wedge attachment is preferably used on the massage gun. However, a D-shaped attachment can also be used under certain circumstances. Massage with the gun should be performed in a scooping motion.
Note: Wedge attachments are only included with a few massage guns. These include, for example, the expensive Theragun Pro, the Flow PRO or the less expensive addsfit MAX massage gun.
It is important during use that a low impact frequency is set and the massage gun is only lightly guided over the body. After all, lymphatic drainage is a very gentle type of massage that is only meant to stimulate lymphatic flow, not to increase circulation.
Furthermore, you must keep in mind that a massage gun may not be used in every case. Thus, you should refrain from using a massage gun in the following medical conditions:
- Illness (fever, cold, etc.)
- Varicose veins
- Placental diseases
- Growth disorders
- (Pregnancy) Diabetes
- Autoimmune diseases
- Premature labor
- Hip and knee implants
- Acute diseases and herniated discs
- Arterial occlusive diseases
Conclusion – Can I use a Massage Gun for Lymphatic Drainage?
As you learned in the article, you can use a massage gun to support lymphatic drainage. However, most of the time, you will have to massage with your hands. After all, the massage gun works exclusively with shocks and vibrations. However, lymphatic drainage also requires other movements, as you learned in the article. I hope that I could answer your questions and help you!