Reflexology and the Lymphatic System

By Melissa Beeck, Reflexologist

We’re all familiar with the blood circulatory system, that system of pipes carrying blood around the body and back again, pumped by the heart.  Did you know there is another circulatory system, called the lymphatic system?  This is a slower, more passive system of tubes carrying the fluid that bathes the cells and tissues, “lymph”, back towards the thoracic region.

The lymph is actually the fluid from the bloodstream which passes through the capillary walls, surrounding the cells and bringing with it nutrients for the cells.  The cells take these up and release waste products back into the lymph.  The lymph then begins a slow journey back to the thoracic duct, where it is dumped back into the blood stream.  Wastes are then filtered out by the kidneys.  To get the lymph back into the thoracic region, the body uses negative pressure created by the diaphragm every time you breathe in and out, calf and other muscle compressions on the lymph vessels when you walk, and one-way valves within the lymphatic vessels which prevent the lymph from slipping down again.

Do you suffer from swollen ankles, puffy lower legs, puffy fingers?  This may occur frequently or periodically, for example, after a flight or on a hot day.  It may also be due to pregnancy (during or post) or medical treatment or medication.  It is a sign that the lymphatic system is not moving optimally and the swelling can be quite uncomfortable.  This is where Reflexology may be used to help shift the lymph not only in the feet/ankles/lower legs, but throughout the whole body.

Ingham Reflexology uses specific pressure points on the feet to massage the lymph system.  We move up the sides of the feet and into these points in a sweeping motion, with our intent to move the lymph.  Maternity Reflexology uses a complete lymphatic drainage technique developed by Lyndall Mollart (RN, RM, Dip.Mid. Studies, Dip. Reflexology), to massage lymphatic routes represented on the feet.  Any bodywork will shift lymph back towards the thoracic region of the body, and Reflexology offers a gentle, yet effective, approach.

The lymphatic “pitting” test, done before and after a Reflexology session, shows a visible difference in the swelling, puffiness and turgidity of the feet, ankles and lower legs, bringing great relief to Reflexology clients.  A reflexology session which includes the specific lymphatic system pressure points and moves, results in greater range of movement for toes, ankles and feet due to lymph having moved up the leg vessels and into the thoracic region.  This means walking and moving is easier, less painful and far more joyful.

“Happy feet!  I’ve got those hap-hap-happy feet!
Give them a low-down beat…
and they begin dancing!” – Cab Calloway