Lymph drainage massage for acute injury and post surgical inflammation

Surgery and injury causes an acute inflammatory response, with swelling, redness, heat and pain. This inflammatory response is your body’s natural response to injury to begin the repair and healing process. However, as your body prioritizes repair over function, the swelling and inflammation can often be more than what is necessary. There can also be a level of bruising and a slowing of drainage of excess fluid from the affected tissues.

Lymph drainage massage works directly on your lymphatic system, a secondary circulatory system responsible for waste collection and a core part of your immune system. During the acute phase of an injury or post-surgery, working on your lymphatic system can help control the level of inflammation and swelling and reduce the appearance of bruising. The treatment encourages drainage of excess fluids, including red blood cells, from the damaged tissues, allows fresh blood supply in and helps to speed up the healing process. At the same time, working your lymphatic system in this way will boost your immune system, helping you to fight off any secondary infections that you may be more susceptible to.

At Dublin Therapeutic Massage Clinic, we use lymph drainage massage post-surgically and in the acute phase of an injury. We begin treatment once any stitches have been removed and medical advice has been sought for injuries. When we are satisfied that these conditions have been met and there is no other reason that treatment would be unadvisable, we do an assessment and follow through with appropriate treatment. We often recommend and teach self-treatment or we can show a family member simple techniques for daily treatment between visits.

Once you have moved passed the acute phase of response, therapeutic deep tissue massage can help to align scar tissue with the aim of restoring normal function, range of movement, strength and elasticity and to avoid developing musculoskeletal or post-surgical pain. This early intervention and treatment ensures optimal recovery in the shortest possible time with significantly reduced risk of future issues such as postural pulls due to scar tissue, compensatory postural patterns, re-injury and pain. (see ‘Therapeutic deep tissue massage for musculoskeletal pain’ for more details.)

5 steps for dealing with injuries

Spring has well and truly arrived and with it a fresh training season. Many of you are already out training for your next big marathon or event. You have joined clubs, done your research. You know the best ways of training. You know how long to train for, how often, what way to eat and how much rest you need.

But despite your best efforts, sometimes you over train or under sleep or life gets in the way. Small niggles start to surface. As much as we would like to believe, these niggles don’t always go away on their own. The ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy ignores the fact that pain is a warning sign. It is best to look at the signs before they develop into something more serious.

Injuries do happen and as much as possible you want to avoid them, so you can continue to train and participate in events and daily life. Common sense, correct footwear, good techniques all play a central role in avoiding injury. Addressing those niggling aches and pains early will identify any issues that could lead to injury and usually prevent any injury happening.

If you do an injury to yourself, early treatment will work in your favour to improve speed of healing and also aid a return to normal function. Your body does prioritize repair over function and it is only with correct intervention in the form of treatments, like massage and exercise working together, that correct function can be restored to the injured tissues and any future injuries avoided.


Prevention is the quickest, easiest and most cost effective, not to mention least painful way, of dealing with injuries. Sports massage is designed to maintain muscle balance and function at its optimal, keeping injuries at bay. Early treatment of injuries when they do happen is the next best thing. Lymph drainage massage can be used after 36-72 hours when there is still swelling and inflammation and will help reduce these and speed up the healing process. Once out of the acute phase of swelling and inflammation, sports massage will help restore correct function and range of movement to the injured site.

5 steps for dealing with injuries.

    1. Use correct training equipment, techniques and methods of training to minimise impact on your body and risk of injury.
    2. Listen to your body. Rest when you need to. Push when you can.
    3. Address any small pains or niggles early to prevent them developing into an injury.
    4. RICE – rest, ice, compression, elevation. When you have done an injury to yourself, follow RICE as soon as possible and seek attention to assess the damage.
    5. Seek early treatment of any injury to speed up recovery and maximize range of motion and function of the injured site going forward.