Most athletes are interested in reducing recovery time after intense exercise or sporting events. The ability to operate at peak efficiency and produce winning results is exhilarating and rewarding, but it is also very demanding on the body.
Injuries, post-exercise pain, chronic pain and tension decrease performance and, consequently, results. The competitive advantage athletes need is optimizing peak performance in competition and recovering quickly so they can participate in the next competition at the height of their physical capability.
Manual lymphatic drainage is a chiromassage technique developed to promote lymph circulation, thus improving edematous symptoms, inflammation and body fluid retention. Lymphatic drainage is then responsible for recanalizing the interstitial fluid back into the bloodstream for evacuation. The techniques to achieve this objective are carried out through gentle, superficial and rhythmic manual movements, which are characterized by the intense work carried out in the lymph node areas. These maneuvers act by activating and improving the circulatory system, through natural pathways, thus favouring the elimination of lymph and intercellular fluids.
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Lymphatic system function
The lymphatic system's main function is to filter toxins, dead cells, viruses and other body waste, returning proteins and fluids to the cardiovascular system and producing antibodies, thus actively participating in the body's immune system.
Thanks to this function of removing products resulting from cell metabolism and energy expenditure, lymphatic drainage can help muscle recovery in order to prevent injuries and reduce the consequences of fatigue. Likewise, sport helps the lymphatic system to flow more easily, as muscle contractions put pressure on the lymphatic vessels, helping them to drain lymph from all over the body, a process called the “muscle pump”.
The muscles, after having endured a physical effort, need to recover to avoid injury, inflammation and stiffness. For this, we must have good nutrition and hydration, rest, vitamins and minerals and a manual lymphatic drainage session.
Benefits of lymphatic drainage in sport
Lymphatic Drainage improves the responsiveness and muscle recovery to the athletes' efforts, in addition, due to its immunological, healing and anti-inflammatory effect, it allows a faster recovery from injuries such as post-fractures, sprains, contusions, tendonitis, among others.
We must also consider a therapeutic effect, because when performing this type of massage, circulatory function improves, restricted mobility between the injured tissues is restored, pain is relieved or reduced, and sensory awareness is optimized. On the other hand, manual lymphatic drainage provides relaxation and well-being, helping to recover and maintain health.
Why does manual lymphatic drainage work for sports injuries?
Athletes regularly suffer from injuries, developing stiffness when they do intensive training. When tissues are damaged, lymph accumulates in the small spaces between cells and causes swelling. In the event of an injury or surgery, the total recovery time can be drastically reduced if the stagnant lymph can be removed more efficiently.
The body can and does this on its own, however, when done correctly, manual lymphatic drainage helps carry out this process much more quickly and efficiently. Also, if an athlete undergoes surgery, the damage done to the lymph tissue in that region is high, so the application of a manual lymphatic drainage session helps the entire lymphatic system to recover and overcome this damage.
By Ricardo Rodrigues, Massage Therapist
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