Lymphatic treatment with local massage therapist Miriam Janove
The mind/body connection that inspired this blog series becomes all too real to me when a stressful workweek results in a persistent headache or unbearable neck and shoulder tension. There are many ways I cope with this strain—exercise, baths, yoga, wine (the latter of which might not be doctor approved…)—but the ultimate solution is a session with Miriam Janove, the certified massage therapist behind Santa Cruz Bodywork and a guaranteed muscle melter.
Janove’s deep tissue work is addictively therapeutic, and she tailors her treatments to individuals and their needs—a process that starts at the first intake session.
“Part of what I do with my intake is to really get clear about what the individual person wants out of our session and what their body will benefit from most,” she says. “Some people respond to deep pressure, and I can feel the knot untangling. Others respond better to lighter work.”
As for me? Janove says I fall someplace in between. “Your muscles like the deep work, but they like to be soothed at the end, which allows the deep work to settle in,” she says.
This sounds about right. I recently partook in Janove’s other specialty, a light touch modality called lymphatic massage, and was blown away by the results.
The lymph system moves waste products out of the body’s tissues much like the circulatory system pumps blood through the veins, says Janove.
“The one difference is that the lymph system doesn’t have the heart to pump the fluid,” Janove explains. “It needs gravity, muscle movement, and manual drainage to move it.” She is specially trained in this manual drainage to help flush the lymph system via gentle, stimulating massage.
Aside from being intensely relaxing, lymphatic massage has several health benefits: it boosts immunity by breaking down and flushing out cellular waste, decreases inflammation and swelling, helps in detoxing, and even promotes digestive regularity. The method is also effective at relieving pain, which it achieves by interrupting pain signals. “The rhythm of [the massage] triggers the nervous system sensory neurons to fire so you’re getting sensation instead of pain,” explains Janove. It’s a good option for those with fresh injuries too sensitive for harder pressures because the afflicted area will benefit from lymphatic work elsewhere on the body.
In my introduction to lymphatic massage, Janove concentrated on the face and neck, pressing gently with her fingertips as she did repetitive swiping motions around my nose, glands, and upper chest. “It’s really good when you’re first feeling that tickle in your throat to get that to go way,” she says. “Or, if you’ve had a cold or allergies, it can help you drain some of that mucus.”
While all massage methods aid in relaxation, the rhythmic lymphatic technique is powerfully hypnotic and soothes at an even deeper level. I left feeling more Zenned out than I ever had been from a massage—which is to be expected from a lymphatic massage, says Janove.
“We’re often so stressed out that we’re really living more of our life in the fight or flight response, even though we’re not being attacked by a lion,” says Janove. “And that’s not healthy. Our body needs that rest time to sustain its regular function. All massage brings you down from that high level response, but the lymphatic really brings that stress level so much further down.”
Photo by Kwai Lam Photography.
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