Water Retention

person getting a massage for water retention

How Can Massage Therapy Help Water Retention?

What is edema?

Edema is water or fluid retention in your tissues.  Fluid can collect like this, particularly in your extremities (your arms, hands, feet, and legs).

What Are the Symptoms of Edema?

Water retention symptoms include:

  • Swelling or puffiness under the skin
  • Shiny or stretched out skin
  • Pitting edema, when you press on your skin, a pit or hole remains longer than normal
  • Abdominal bloating

What Causes Fluid Retention?

Swollen, fluid-filled extremities can be the result of poor circulation, aging, pregnancy, and sedentary lifestyle. Edema is sometimes the by-product or side effect of cancer treatment.

How Can Massage Therapy Help Fluid Retention?

When your body isn’t moving the fluid out of your legs or arms well, massage therapists can help you move that fluid manually.  Massage is known to help increase circulation, which can reduce edema (swelling) by circulating the fluid that may be pooling in your extremities. Massage Therapists also use lymphatic drainage techniques to help improve this condition. Following injury or surgery, this can allow you to heal more quickly.

What Does the Research Say About Massage Therapy for Fluid Retention?

  • Massage therapy for women with PMDD: The longer-term (5 weeks) effects of massage therapy included a reduction in pain and water retention and overall menstrual distress. (Hernandez-Reif et al, 2000)
  • Intermittent massage is a therapeutic option in selected cases of compartment syndrome (swelling in a compartment of the leg). (Pereira-De Godoy, JM, 2018)

Massage Therapy for Fluid Retention Research

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2000 Mar;21(1):9-15.
Premenstrual symptoms are relieved by massage therapy.
Hernandez-Reif M1, Martinez A, Field T, Quintero O, Hart S, Burman I.

Lymphology. 2009 Sep;42(3):105-11.
Where do lymph and tissue fluid accumulate in lymphedema of the lower limbs caused by obliteration of lymphatic collectors?
Olszewski WL1, Ambujam PJ, Zaleska M, Cakala M.

Case Rep Vasc Med. 2018 May 2;2018:2679358. doi: 10.1155/2018/2679358. eCollection 2018.
Intermittent Massage as a Therapeutic Option for Compartment Syndrome after Embolectomy of the Lower Limbs.
Pereira de Godoy JM1,2, de Fátima Guerreiro Godoy M3,4.

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