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Massage/Two Concerns Post-Massage


Lauren32063 wrote at 2012-07-04 01:21:26
Hello. I am going through the same exact thing right now! Did you happen to find any more information on it or find a good remedy? I've become really upset because my feet have never swollen like this before and it's a bit unnerving. They swelled up almost immediately following my 1 hour massage, and are getting worse every day. It has now been 4 days. I'm going to elevate and ice them tonight and drink plenty of water. If that doesn't work, I'm going to see my primary doctor next week to rule out other issues. Please advise if you have any updates. I appreciate it.


Fellowtraveler wrote at 2013-02-10 15:31:18
After my first few weeks in Thailand in which I received almost daily massages I also developed significant swelling in the ankles which was somewhat asymmetrical with left being more swollen.  I have spent a LOT of time and money to learn an answer including many trips to doctors, medical tests and study including a book on Lymphadema management.  Bottom line: the lymphatic system can be vulnerable to a number of things and when some of these overlap it can be damaged.  However, don't despair as the lymph vessels and circulation can improve if the things that damage it are discontinued. Of course, at this point in my own case I can not say the damage has been completely reversed, but on most days no swelling is observed.

To stop the damage, consider that the usual oil for massage in Thailand is mineral oil, a petroleum derivative.  Imagine that you have a delicate tubule made of plastic that has a tendency to absorb oil and soften.  Then squeeze the tube and perhaps the pressure glues the tubule shut and permanently  deforms it and blocks it off.  This could be happening with your massage.  Even plant based like oils like coconut etc could have this effect.  Much of the tiny lymphatic veins are near the surface and subject to absorb fluids in the nearby tissues including oil which we know is readily absorbed through the skin.  I realize now I certainly don't want petroleum in my skin and lymphatic system.  I am not sure I really want any oils in there that are not supplied from the vascular system.  Not everyone may suffer from this problem. Age, previous or current infection or certain medical conditions could affect the resilience of the lymph veins.  Don't forget that a LOT of pressure is often put on the lymph veins during all but the softest massage.  As a matter of fact, except for those specially trained to do a special gently, undulating and directional lymphatic massage other massages are probably unhelpful or counter productive in draining lymph from the legs.  Also be aware that certain drugs could play a role in making the lymph veins and capillaries and small veins in the legs more vulnerable to damage.  Many men use drugs regularly for ED that are designed to modify the blood flow which in turn could actually soften those tissues or dilate them making them more vulnerable.  Probably many drugs have the same effect as a side effect so be mindful that drugs could be part of the problem.  Overall vascular health is also a key factor.  Body fat is another factor although perhaps in this case the more fat the more the lymph veins would be protected up to the point that the lymph absorption and return is compromised due to poor circulation.  Finally, in Thai massage there is a technique in which pressure is applied to areas of the groin that are the cross roads of the lymphatic system and vascular system where blood and lymph are returned to the trunk.  The masseuse will cut off the flow for a short time with the result that the customer will feel a rush of blood returning to the limbs which provides sort of a "rush."  My masseuse who was poorly trained leaned her 200 lb body on these pressure points for up to 2 minutes which potentially pinched off major lymph vessels at a crucial spot and perhaps damaged them permanently.  Anyone getting massage should be aware of this technique and stop the masseuse from doing it immediately.  The well trained masseuse usually does it for under a minute, but the risk is not worth any dubious benefit from this technique.  Also, if you are thin and older then you should caution the masseuse to lighten up a little when doing the lower extremities and avoid oil massages, period.  Dry massage feels plenty good and avoids several problems.   It is best if you can train a massage partner or masseuse to use the special manual lymph drainage massage techniques on the lower extremities without oil, or do them yourself after studying the proper technique.  Perhaps the rest of the body can be done a little more firmly.  Just be mindful of the damage already done.  I have found that a healthy lifestyle with SIGNIFICANT leg exercise will help drain the fluid from the ankles.  I walk an hour a day.  I do a strength training routine (not too heavy necessarily) that includes working the calves and legs, and I do stairs or cycling about 30 minutes 4 days a week.  Eating right (I eat mostly plants and low fat now.) also helps circulation.  It is really hard to get good medical attention on this subject, but unless you have a disease of some kind then your own study and therapy can manage the situation.   Good luck and don't despair or spend a fortune testing for every disease imaginable.  It could be purely mechanical due to injury or poor health habits.  Of course, check with your doctor too.  


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Kathryn Merrow


I can respond to questions about migraines and headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, hand-wrist-arm pain, upper back pain, and other assorted and miscellaneous pain symptoms. I can also respond to general questions about massage and how to select a massage therapist.


I have been a massage therapist since 1992 specializing primarily in pain relief techniques. I utilize the St. John Method of Neuromuscular Massage Therapy (NMT) and other bodywork modalities. I'm The Pain Relief Coach online.

Professional Member of American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCTMB)


My initial training in massage was at Health Enrichment Center in Lapeer, Michigan. I have had advanced training or workshops with Kurashova Institute for Studies in Physical Medicine, St. John Neuromuscular Institute of Pain Relief, Center for Self-Healing and many others. I now share my education and experience as a Massage Instructor and Pain Relief Coach.

Awards and Honors
The highest honor I receive is when someone tells me that they finally understand why they had pain, that they took action and that their pain is either less or is totally gone.

Past/Present Clients
I have done well over 20,000 therapeutic massage sessions, primarily with clients with various types of pain or painful syndromes.

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