Benefits of facial rolling and gua sha (gentle lymphatic drainage)
Why does a lymphatic massage require a soft touch? — & the reason why I love the gentle act of face rolling combined with Gua Sha. To me it’s the perfect skincare ritual.
The soft touch question is a great question and one about which many people are confused.
The answer has to do with the lymph vessels themselves. Unlike your blood vessels, they don’t have a large pump (the heart) that forces the lymph fluid through the vessels, nor do they have any musculature to lend their walls support. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In addition to helping maintain fluid balance within the body, the lymphatic system actually acts as a major part of the filtration system for your blood and tissues. Fluid from said blood and tissues is filtered into the lymph vessels, and this lymph fluid is carried to the lymph nodes.
The lymph nodes destroy bacteria and assist in cleaning out other waste products, and the cleaned fluid is then circulated back through the lymph vessels into the right lymphatic duct and thoracic duct, which then drain into the right and left subclavian veins, respectively. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
From there, since it has entered the bloodstream, the lymph fluid can be pumped through the blood stream to rehydrate the blood and the tissues that need it. (This is another reason why drinking the appropriate amount of water per day is important. It’s hard for any of your systems to work properly if you’re dehydrated, but it is especially difficult for your blood and lymph circulatory systems!) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Unlike your arteries and veins, which have some degree of musculature and can hold themselves open fairly well, even when placed under some pressure, lymph vessels simply cannot stay open if almost any amount of pressure is placed upon them. They lack the strength in their vessel walls to do so. Rather, they temporarily collapse and will only re-open once the pressure has been removed. Normally, the natural movements of your muscles encourage the lymph fluid to move through the vessels on its own.
You can probably see now why a deep tissue massage, or even a regular Swedish massage, would be less effective at moving lymph around the body & face. It’s not that it wouldn’t work at all. There would still be some movement of the lymphatic fluid (Gua Sha), as the manipulation of the tissues themselves would encourage some lymph flow. But if you are looking for a massage that specifically targets the lymph system, a much lighter touch is needed. (The pressure of no more than the weight of a dime on the skin can be effectively used in lymphatic drainage massage hence why the face roller is a perfect tool, invented a very long time ago.) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This way, the massage ensures that the lymph vessels themselves remain open and that the fluid can be gently pushed through the open lymph vessels in the direction of lymph flow, towards the lymph nodes. That’s why a face roller combined with a Gua Sha and a facial dry brush is my absolute favorite tools for the skin. The results speaks for themselves and I use these tools every single day. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I created this picture for you guys as so many have written about a guide — so follow the arrows with a gentle touch as directed. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I hope this guide seems simple and helps you get through your facial rolling ritual, as for the guide for Gua Sha that one comes with your Gua Sha package as it’s more detailed.