Our website is supported by our readers. We sometimes earn a commission when you click through the affiliate links on our website at no extra cost to you.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re interested in using a massage gun for lymphatic drainage.
First off, let me just say that I am a huge fan of massage guns. I use mine almost every day and have noticed a huge difference in my muscle recovery and overall well-being. But, I know that not everyone is convinced of their benefits.
So in this post, I’ll be diving into the topic of massage guns for lymphatic drainage and answering questions you might have regarding their efficacy.
What Is The Lymphatic System?
Before we dive into the specifics, let’s first define lymphatic drainage and why it’s important.
The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and nodes that help to filter and remove excess fluid, waste, and toxins from the body.
According to Dr. Gerry Lemole a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon:
“A healthy lymphatic system can fight off 80% of chronic disease such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis…”
In other words, assuring that your lymphatic system is working at its best is a critical component of overall health and well-being.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
On its own, a fully functional lymphatic shouldn’t require any extra intervention on our part. Under normal conditions, our body has the remarkable ability to clear waste and toxins all on its own.
That said, our bodies have never been exposed to as much pollution as they are now. From the air to the food we ingest, it seems just about everything is tainted with some degree of foreign chemicals. It’s a sad reality, but one of the main reasons why a lymphatic drainage massage might be necessary.
Lymphatic drainage massage is a technique that aims to stimulate the lymphatic system and improve its function. It can be helpful for a variety of issues such as swelling and even fatigue.
Typically a lymphatic massage is done by a qualified massage therapist by hand. However, more recently, therapists have been turning to massage guns to facilitate the process.
But a word of caution, lymphatic massage is not recommended for people with the following conditions:
- Congestive heart failure
- History of blood clots or stroke
- Current infection
- Liver problems
- Kidney problems
Related: Why You Feel Sick After A Massage
The Benefits of Massage Guns for Lymphatic Drainage
People use massage guns for a lot of things. Helping to clear the lymphatic system is one of them. One study found that percussive therapy improved lymphatic flow and reduced swelling in participants with lymphedema (a condition characterized by swelling due to a damaged or blocked lymphatic system) (1).
Another study found that percussive therapy improved lymphatic drainage and reduced cellulite in participants (2).
While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of massage guns on the lymphatic system, these studies suggest that they may be useful tools for improving lymphatic function.
In addition to the potential benefits of lymphatic drainage, massage guns have also been shown to improve muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness (3).
So, if you’re looking to improve your lymphatic function and recover faster from workouts, a massage gun may be worth considering.
Choosing the Right Massage Gun
With so many massage gun options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a massage gun:
- Intensity level: Look for a massage gun with adjustable intensity levels so you can customize the pressure to your preference.
- Attachments: Some massage guns come with a variety of attachments to target different muscle groups and areas of the body. Consider what attachments are important to you and choose a massage gun that offers them.
- Battery life: If you plan on using your massage gun frequently, it’s important to consider the battery life. Look for a massage gun with a long-lasting battery to ensure you don’t run out of power mid-massage.
- Price: Massage guns can range in price from $50 to over $600. Consider your budget and choose a massage gun that fits your needs and price range.
The Ekrin 365: Our #1 Massage Gun Pick for Lymphatic Drainage
With everything we just mentioned above, the Ekrin 365 checks all the boxes. It’s powerful enough for anything, yet gentle enough to use around more sensitive areas. It comes with all the attachments you’ll ever need. Best of all, the battery life is incredible!
In our hands-on review, there just wasn’t much we could fault it with. Interested? Get 20% off with our promo code “RT20” applied at checkout.
How to Use a Massage Gun for Lymphatic Drainage
Now that you’ve chosen the perfect massage gun, it’s time to learn how to use it for lymphatic drainage. The entire process will be broken down into steps from the upper body to the lower body.
Before you begin, understand this principle: all toxins are processed and excreted by your organs. So as you’re massaging, you want to do slow, gentle strokes toward your center core, not away from it. You don’t want to force fluids back into the extremities.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage for the Neck, Arms, and Legs
Start with the neck:
Whichever side of the neck you’re working on first, slightly tilt the head to expose the lymph nodes. The cervical lymph nodes are located just below the jawline and at the base of the neck.
Grab your massage gun
To massage the lymph nodes, you will want to exercise extra caution. Excessive force from a massage gun can further inflame the glands and tissues.
To prevent any risk of injury, be sure to use the softest massage gun tip you have available. The flat head attachment or the ball attachment are generally your best options. Before contacting the skin, turn the massage gun on first and set it on the lowest setting. The idea is to gently massage the affected area but pummel it.
Applying very light pressure, gently sweep the massage gun across the neck. Work from the back of the neck downwards toward the front. Again, you’re trying to force the fluid toward the center of your body. Be very cautious not to contact bone.
This entire process only requires 5-10 passes along the neck with a duration lasting no more than 20-30 seconds.
Repeat on the other side of the neck.
Lymphatic massage on the arms
You can do this on your own or ask someone to help you. To start, raise one arm at a time. The epitrochlear and axillary lymph nodes are located just behind the elbows and in the armpits.
Following the same guidelines as before, slowly and gently guide the massage gun from the back of the elbow downwards to slightly below the armpit. Hard pressure is not necessary.
Continue sweeping down the arm 5-10 times per side and then move on to the next step.
Supraclavicular Lymphatic Massage Instructions
Next, locate your collarbone. To do so, use your first two fingers and gently move down the anterior part of your neck until you find your trachea. It’s the area that sinks in a bit.
From there, move your fingers to the left or right and follow that bone along to the shoulder. That bony prominence is the clavicle. Just above the clavicle, closer to the shoulder area lie the supraclavicular lymph nodes.
With your two fingers following along the clavicle, sweep the massage gun just above the bone, moving from the shoulder back toward the trachea.
There’s not much room here, so you will want to exercise extra precautions and move slowly to avoid hitting any bone.
Use a slow sweeping motion and repeat this 5-10 times per side.
Tip: Laterally tilting your head to the opposite shoulder can help expose the soft tissues, making it easier to massage.
How to perform lymphatic massage on the legs
The inguinal lymph nodes are located in the groin area. While we don’t recommend using the massage gun on or near the groin, you can influence the fluid in your legs to move in that direction.
If you are able, slightly elevate your legs by either placing a towel underneath them or perhaps using a wall.
Tip: Although you can perform a lymphatic drainage massage on your legs on your own, asking a partner for help will make it easier.
Using long, gentle strokes, start by massaging along the belly of the muscles of the calves and move toward the quads and hamstrings. Once more, the idea is to move the massage gun toward your center mass to flush the excess fluid out.
Repeat this process 5-10 times per leg.
Is it Better to do Lymphatic Drainage in the Morning or Night?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as it can depend on your individual needs and preferences. However, some people may find it more beneficial to do lymphatic drainage in the morning as it can help to energize and revive the body after a night of rest.
On the other hand, others may find it more relaxing to do lymphatic drainage at night as it can help to wind down and prepare for sleep. Ultimately, the best time to do lymphatic drainage is whatever works best for you and fits into your daily routine.
Related Reading: Is It Better To Work Out In The Morning Or Evening?
If used correctly, massage guns can be an effective adjunct tool for improving lymphatic function and reducing temporary swelling. Although I’ve seen great results myself, they’re not for everyone. In fact, my best advice is to first seek treatment from a qualified practitioner, one who is familiar with lymphatic drainage.
Under their guidance, they will be able to individualize your massage treatment and make informed recommendations based on what you need.
*Disclaimer: Although lymphatic drainage massage has its benefits, it’s not for everyone. Always consult with your healthcare provider, BEFORE trying any new modality. This article is for educational purposes only.
- Ahn, H., et al. (2017). The effect of percussive therapy on lymphatic flow in patients with lymphedema. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(6), 981-985.
- Cheung, K., et al. (2018). The effectiveness of percussive therapy on muscle soreness and muscle function: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 48(12), 2855-2865.
Editor-In-Chief at Recovatech. Dr. Ben is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic with over 10 years of clinical experience. He specializes in structural and neurological imbalances with an emphasis on functional movement patterns, exercise performance, and muscle recovery. He has been the team chiropractor for professional baseball and soccer organizations, as well as collegiate athletes. In his personal life, he’s always been driven when it comes to athletics and personal performance.