What are the benefits of dry brushing in Lymphoedema management?
If you have recently had a surgical procedure, especially one that removed lymph nodes, this question should be of interest to you and here’s why.
Such surgeries can often disrupt the lymphatic system, slow down or restrict the flow of lymphatic fluid causing swelling known as lymphoedema. This collected fluid must be drained from the body; however this is easier said than done.
Dealing with Lymphoedema
There is no heart-like pump for the lymphatic system. Instead, as you breathe and move your muscles, the lymph is continuously pushed towards the heart from the outer reaches of your body. (It’s very much like how blood depleted of oxygen moves back towards your heart through the veins). So to move the lymphatic fluid you need to move your muscles, have manual lymphatic drainage, use compression bandages or a compression pump. Dry brushing can aid the effectiveness of these techniques.
What is Dry Brushing?
Dry brushing is the practice of gently sweeping a dry, soft brush against the skin to stimulate the lymph nodes underneath it. The brushes’ natural-fibre bristles help to increase circulation and soothe your skin without damaging it.
Other Benefits of Dry Brushing
There are many benefits of Dry Brushing, including:-
1. Skin Exfoliation
Despite its soft bristles, the brush effectively removes any dead skin cells it encounters. As a result, dry brushing unclogs pores, leaving you with a smoother, brighter skin.
2. Cellulite Reduction
Let’s make one thing clear. Dry brushing never removes cellulite as some may claim. Instead, it drains lymphatic fluid, rebuilds skin tissue, and redistributes fat stores. This, in turn, reduces the dimpling responsible for cellulite.
3. Nerve Rejuvenation
When you brush the skin, nerve endings embedded in it fire at this new impulse. And the more you stimulate them, the more new ones form. Also, they get better at reading input and giving feedback.
4. Muscle Stimulation
Close to its surface, the skin has many peripheral muscles, such as those around hair follicles or capillaries and those responsible for the shivering reflex. To properly function, they also need stimulation, which dry brushing provides.
5. Stress Reduction
The feeling of smooth, soft, bristles rubbing against your skin soothes both your skin and your spirit. So at the end of a dry-brushing session, your stress levels will be lower than they were when you started.
6. Improved Circulation
Like with muscles, nerves and lymph nodes, blood capillaries function better when stimulated. In particular, the blood flows unrestricted, giving you a healthier skin.
Benefits of Dry Brushing in Lymphoedema Management
After looking at other benefits of dry brushing, we get back to how it affects lymphoedema. As just mentioned above, the brushing also improves the circulation of the blood, not just of the lymphatic fluid.
This dual-action, then, drains the skin better, reducing any swelling related to lymphoedema. Similarly, the rebuilt skin and stimulated skin muscles we’ve also just looked at also improve the draining process.
How to Dry Brush
How do you dry brush? Fortunately, this is a simple process.
The best time to dry brush is before your morning shower. Dry brushing has a stimulative effect and you might find it difficult to get to sleep if you do it close to bed time.
Before starting, think of your body as two halves, that below the belly button and that above it. You will start with the lower half before proceeding to the upper one. Also remember to brush towards, not away from, your heart.
- Undress before your shower. Then, start with the sensitive skin on the soles of your feet.
- Next, focus on the ankle and, then, the shins, remembering to make long brushing motions towards the groin.
- After that, do the same for both the front and the back of the thighs as well as for the buttocks. And be thorough, for the lymph nodes in the groin are the largest in the body.
- Then, move to the abdomen where you will use horizontal strokes from right to left. After this, finish off the lower body by brushing the lower back.
- Now that you are on the upper half, begin with your the left arm, making long strokes towards the neck. About the left breast, make circular motions towards the heart.
- Finally, do likewise for the right upper half of your body. With your dry brushing complete, take a rejuvenating bath or shower.
Things to Note
When dry brushing, always ensure your brush has firm natural fibres, not synthetic ones. Also, always clean the brush before storing it. Pressure should be light strokes, DO NOT SCRUB. At the end of the brushing, it should leave your skin pink and smooth, not red and painful.
And if you have dry skin, first lubricate it with oil before brushing. About the time a typical brushing takes, this would be anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. The choice is up to you.
Finally, never dry brush the face, broken, red or inflamed skin or genitalia.
As a lymphoedema sufferer, include dry brushing in your therapies. It is simple to do and has many benefits, both related and not related to the condition.