Lately, you may have seen a lot about the fantastic benefits of Lymphatic Drainage. What is it, how can it help you, and where can you get it done?
Lymphatic Drainage has become widely popular in recent years because it speeds up and supports the body’s natural detoxification process and relieves congested lymph fluid. Your practitioner uses light stretching and pressure to move stagnant lymph fluid to your lymph nodes. Symptoms such as brain fog, frequent illnesses, bloating, and swollen glands are all signs your lymph vessels may be congested. Congested lymph fluid may be the reason why you are feeling sluggish and burnt out!
Meet Helen Husak
Helen Husak is Linden & Arc Vitality Institute’s Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). Helen’s extensive background in movement reflects her passion for the human body’s intelligence. She brings this passion to Linden & Arc, helping patients become aware, in balance, and connected to their bodies.
Helen Husak is fascinated with the body for its potential for creative expression and its ability to move, heal, and transform. She has always been drawn to the physicality of the human body and the body as a vehicle for expression. She loves problem-solving and connecting to something greater than herself. Along with Therapeutic Massage, Dynamic Cupping and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, Helen has found a passion for Lymphatic Drainage to help eliminate toxic overload and strengthen the immune response.
Helen, Can You Tell Us About Your Educational Background?
“I went through a Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Calgary and graduated in 2002. I learned a lot about the human body because I was partnered with the Kinesiology department. My degree was based on movement, anatomy, physiology, and the biomechanics of dance.
After my university degree in dance, I took on some extra education at the School for Participatory Arts and Somatic Research in Oakland, California. My studies there were based a lot on somatic principles, and I learned about the body as a whole and how to work with a person as a whole being – spiritually, physically, and mentally. There was a lot of emphasis on community building and somatic modalities like Body-Mind Centering, developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. It also included massage and learning how to work with patients’ bodies.
I also took my yoga teacher certification in 2002 and started teaching in Calgary because yoga was so on par with what I was doing. After a 20-year dance and yoga career, I transitioned to massage therapy fully and became a Registered Massage Therapist in 2020. I went to Mount Royal University and did a 2-year massage therapy diploma there. I intermingled a 2–year diploma in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) as well.
I’m still learning; it’s continuous. That is why massage therapy is so interesting – I never stop learning. I’m always taking courses that get me thinking differently about the body, such as Myofascial Release courses and Trigger Point Therapy. I learned about cupping and Lymphatic Drainage so that I could help clients even more.
Lymphatic Drainage is amazing and so needed since there are not a lot of practitioners who know Lymphatic Drainage well. I am certified in Vodder Manual Lymphatic Drainage Levels 1 and 2 and I am now taking further courses on The Chickly method. The Chickly method is more precise and geared toward the unique needs of the individual. I’m looking forward to learning more about that because I love getting into the precision of these practices and techniques.”
The Lymphatic System: Let’s Get Technical
The lymphatic system is a system of the body consisting of nodes, vessels, and ducts that accumulate and circulate fluids in the body. This network significantly affects the body’s ability to detoxify, filter toxins, drain stagnant fluids, regenerate tissues, and maintain a healthy immune system.
This network consists of myriad parts in your body including:
- lymph, also called lymphatic fluid
- lymph nodes, which are bean-shaped glands that monitor and cleanse the lymph as it filters through them
- lymphatic vessels
- collecting ducts
- the spleen
- the thymus
- your tonsils and adenoids
- your bone marrow
- Peyer’s patches
- and yes, the appendix!
Every region of the body has a group of lymph nodes that can be described as biological filter stations. The human body contains 500-600 lymph nodes. Each lymph node houses special white blood cells which break down and filter anything that may be harmful to the body, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and cancer cells. Lymph fluid is pumped and propelled through the lymph vessels by hundreds of small muscular units called lymphangions.
Substances picked up in the lymph fluid such as proteins, toxins, hormones, fatty acids, and immune cells are sent to the regional lymph nodes to be processed. When lymphangions are compromised due to surgery, trauma, burns, infections, substantial swelling, fatigue, stress or age, the lymph fluid becomes stagnant, and these substances accumulate in the tissue. This eventually alters proper cellular function, which may result in various health challenges.
What is Lymphatic Drainage?
The two primary therapies for Lymphatic Drainage are Lymphatic Drainage Therapy (LDT)/ The Vodder Method and Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)/ The Chikly Method. Lymphatic techniques have been used widely in Europe for the past century and are swiftly gaining popularity in North America due to their many health benefits. The gentle manual techniques work on the lymphatic system by encouraging lymph fluid circulation, which, in turn, activates the function of the immune system and parasympathetic nervous system.
The lymphatic system is a network of vessels throughout the body, much like the veins and arteries of the circulatory system. The lymph vessels pick up any fluid and macromolecules that the veins cannot reabsorb. They are transported through the lymphatic system to key areas in the body where they will re-enter circulation. When the lymph vessels are compromised through illness or trauma, there may be congestion or a build-up of lymph fluid (also known as lymphedema). LDT and MLD techniques are used to relieve congestion or swelling and assist in moving the lymph fluid back into circulation.
Lymphatic Drainage has two steps. The first step is to release stagnant lymph fluid in the body. The second step is encouraging the movement of lymph fluid to the lymph nodes.
Benefits of Lymph Drainage:
- Reduce swelling and water retention (edema and lymphedema)
- Improve blood circulation
- Strengthen immune function
- Flush toxins
- Resolve sinus issues
- Reduce bloating
- Reduce acne, eczema, and allergies
- Stimulate healing
- Relief of chronic pain
- Detoxify the body
- Management of autoimmune disease symptoms
- Regeneration of tissues from burns, scars (post-surgery), and anti-aging effects
- Deep relaxation to help with insomnia, depression, stress, vitality, and memory
- Anti-aging effects
- Reduced symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
- Alleviation of adipose and cellulite tissue
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) – The Vodder Method
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) was developed in 1932 by Emil and Estrid Vodder. It has become a well-known technique to assist lymph flow and aid in the drainage of tissues.
The Vodder Method of MLD is unlike a therapeutic massage that works on the muscular system and often uses moderate to deep pressure. The vessels of the lymphatic system reside just beneath the skin, so for a practitioner to move lymph fluid, the skin is rhythmically stretched and released using light pressure. With MLD, specific sequences are used for every region of the body, starting at the neck and moving out towards the extremities. The gentle, rhythmic pressure of MLD has a pain-relieving effect for clients and often induces deep rest and relaxation.
MLD techniques assist in re-circulating congested lymph fluid, stimulating the immune system, providing pain relief, reducing inflammation, and balancing the autonomic nervous system.
Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) – The Chikly Method
Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) was developed by Bruno Chikly MD, DO, LMT. The Chikly Method uses lymph drainage techniques and adds Manual Lymphatic Mapping (MLM) of the lymphatic vessels and Lympho-Fascia Release (LFR).
LDT enables practitioners to identify in greater detail the quality of the lymph flow anywhere in the body. Lymph drainage therapists use flat hands and wave-like movements to improve circulation, specify the location of stagnant fluid, and map the best drainage pathways. This activates the circulation of interstitial and lymph fluid and enhances the functioning of the immune and nervous systems. Lymph drainage techniques are often used on ligaments, tendons, viscera, trigger points, and fascia.
Lymph Drainage Therapy aims to enhance the body’s healing process.
Helen, What Excites You About the Varying Treatments We Offer at Linden & Arc Vitality Institute?
“Every individual has their own personal stories about what is going on in their bodies, where they hold tension and emotion, what their life story has been, and how it has been expressed through the body. What is excellent about having different modalities to work from at Linden & Arc is I can pull them out when necessary.
If someone is coming in with a specific illness or injury, I can choose from 4 different techniques that I think would be useful. Some people do not like a lot of pressure, so Lymphatic Drainage or Craniosacral Therapy can be used to help them. Other people love the deep pressure, so techniques like Trigger Point Release and Myofascial Release work can be helpful for them. A session can intermingle all my techniques. It is up to the client and I to figure out what is most compatible for their systems. It is an exchange of dialogue, experiment, and intuition that helps me develop the right combination for each patient. I enjoy connecting with patients and helping create a safe place for them to find their healing strength.”
What is Your Favorite Lifestyle Hack for Stress Reduction?
“Moving is key! I will always put movement as number one. Whatever way you want to move is up to you, but it needs to be a way of moving that makes you happy. It’s one thing to go for a run on a paved road and think, well, I have to do this; it’s another thing to be in someone’s living room dancing around with them, laughing, enjoying yourself, and getting the same benefits. You need to find enjoyment in moving. I like to walk in nature and connect to the trees and earth. I also like to participate in slower paced, mindful movement modalities such as Chi Kung, which allows me to be in more of a meditative state where I can find calm in the body and build my energy reserves. It is a really personal choice how you want to move. Do what moves you!
Connecting to others and finding a like-minded community would be my number two. More than ever, through COVID times, we are all really understanding the importance of community in a more profound way.
Finding creative expression is another stress-relieving hack. Mine has always been movement – it brings me joy and helps me connect to deeper parts of myself.”
Massage Therapy and Lymphatic Drainage in Functional Medicine
At Linden & Arc Vitality Institute, Massage Therapy and Lymphatic Drainage play an integral and substantial role in our Functional Medicine approach. By combining advanced quantitative testing with our massage treatments’ precision and delicate care, we can target and unshackle the dysfunctional biological systems causing you severe, chronic pain. Our Lymphatic Drainage and Massage Therapy in SW Calgary will address the root cause of problems, empowering you to experience complete vitality and better overall health.