Massage therapists differ in their opinions on how to go about treating a swelling. Some say that a massage should not be performed if a swelling is present since massage blocks the lymphatic vessels. Others would only perform a modality of massage that has been designed specifically for the lymphatic system - the lymphatic drainage. Many state that a massage does help to reduce swelling but some are not quite sure how to address that specific symptom with a particular technique, leaving it on the generic list of global massage benefits.

As a matter of fact a technique exists that addresses swellings. In fact, it's not a technique as much (it's not a new move for example), it is simply a sequence in which you would do a massage with the techniques that you already know, and that is what takes care of the swelling for you.

First of all, however, it is important to remember that not all swellings should be treated with massage therapy. They can even be a symptom of a complete contraindications to massage therapy. Contra indications normally include conditions that can be aggravated by an increased blood circulation that massage gives, for example thrombosis, disease or blood, gangrene or cancer. Any acute inflammation due to infection is also a no-no for a massage since it spreads the infection further around the body. In quite a few of these cases you will have a swelling, especially in parts of the lymphatic system, and you should not touch these.

As for the swellings that don't present a danger for a massage, or did not carry infection, you still don't have to work on the swelling site itself to reduce the swelling. In fact, the technique consists of working elsewhere. Let's take a simple example of an ankle sprain. The first few days you should not touch the ankle itself. However, you can still help to reduce the swelling of the ankle through massage. This is called a suction method.

The idea is you massage the areas above the swelling in a certain sequence and in a certain direction. Basically, you start from the furthest section of the body in the direction of the lymph flow you are going in and you massage it towards the nearest superior lymph node. The next section you do is the second furthest, etc.

In the case of an ankle, for example, we first massage the thigh in the direction from the knee to the groin (along the lymph flow and towards the lymph node), then we massage the lower leg from the ankle to the knee. If we take an example of a wrist swelling, then we would massage the upper back first, then the upper arm, then the lower arm.

This would clear the route for the lymph in the swelling to follow, as well as induce a sort of connected vessels difference between the different sections to encourage that flow in the equalising movement. At the end, we can work on the swelling itself as well, but ever so gently. The effect of reducing the swelling would come from the suction technique anyway, and the swelling needs only a few strokes, and even that not in the acute phase of the trauma.

Naturally, when we are talking about the massage of different sections of a limb, we're talking about some decent petrissage (kneading and squishing) that works all of the tissues globally, rather than applying specific strokes on specific muscles. What we want to do is just shake up the total body mass there to clear the way rather than worry about anatomical specifics.

Author's Bio: 

Alexey Kuzmin is a therapeutic massage therapist who has been specialising in a unique modality of professional Tantric Massage over the last 6 years. He works in London and Spain.