A self massage is basically used for improvement in the flow and drainage of lymph. This is done by stimulating the lymphatic vessels by massage. Self massage is also known as lymphatic massage.
Usually a lymphedema therapist instructs patients on carrying out self massage or lymphatic massage. One should understand that this is not a thing to let go but is an important part of managing lymphedema and should be carried out regularly as and when directed.
The self massage is skipped when a person finds out that there is an infection in the affected area or there are symptoms or indications that an infection is developing. If this is the case then the self massage can be modified as need be or skipped completely until the infection is under control.
Also self massage is not recommended by doctors to people that have certain medical conditions. These conditions include certain malignant tumors.
One needs to clearly understand the self massage strokes. This is why you need to pay attention to the therapist that is giving you training on how to carry out self massage.
This process and the strokes used and their sequence are quite similar to the ones as used in manual lymph drainage.
Self massage is considered to be a technique that is gentle and carrying it out on the affected area should not result in the skin becoming red and/or the area where the massage is done starts to hurt.
Even though similar to lymph massage this self massage is not the same as a conventional muscle massage. Self massage basically encourages lymph drainage. This is the reason why only a qualified lymphedema therapist should be allowed to massage the lymphedema affected area using deep strokes and not anyone else who does not have the knowledge or the experience.
Strokes in a self massage routine do not use a lot of pressure and the hands are not made to slide over the skin of the affected area. In lieu of this while massaging hands are used to move and stretch the skin so as to stimulate flow of lymph through the lymphatic capillaries. These capillaries are located right under the skin.
It is not common to use any oils and lotions during a self massage therapy treatment as they result in making the skin slippery. Only when the skin appears to be very dry should lotion be applied before self massaging. The lotion should be allowed to be absorbed before carrying out the massage.