The Benefits of Therapeutic Breast Massage!
Breast health is too often ignored until after a problem arises. It’s an area of the body with powerful associations that sometimes makes women hesitant to seek care, despite the fact that the vast majority of them experience breast discomfort at some point. Whether it’s breast congestion, abnormalities such as lumps or cysts, diagnostic tests, or surgical procedures, any breast problem can create heightened anxiety and stress that can diminish overall health.
Although scientific studies are limited so far, anecdotal evidence suggests that these problems can be improved and possibly prevented with regular breast massage. Whether you massage yourself or seek out a certified therapist, breast massage can result in:
- Increased circulation of blood and lymph
- Reduced congestion in breast tissue
- Relief from mastalgia (breast pain)
- Improved posture
- Restored range of motion in the upper body
These physical improvements may provide huge psychological and emotional benefits, especially for those recovering from breast disease and the aftermath of invasive treatments.
Getting the Lymph Moving
Breasts are often compressed with sports bras, constrained by underwire, or enhanced with padding. This can restrict the flow of lymph, a clear liquid derived from blood that contains disease-fighting cells called lymphocytes. According to Debra Curties, RMT, a renowned expert in breast massage, the lymphatic system “is considered the most important factor in breast tissue drainage. It is widely speculated that chronic impairment of lymph drainage may be implicated in many breast health problems, including cancer.” (1)
Unlike blood, which is pumped by the heart, lymph doesn’t have a pump of its own and must be moved by either muscle contractions or manual pressure. Curties points out that breasts have no musculature of their own, “so the primary physiological aims of breast massage relate to enhancing circulation and drainage.” (2) Gentle massage helps clear lymphatic channels, increases circulation, and reduces uncomfortable congestion.
Improving Posture and Range of Motion
Therapeutic breast massage also loosens the tissues of the chest, shoulders, and neck, using a combination of deep-tissue massage techniques, movement and stretching. Whether your breasts are healthy or compromised, every woman can benefit from this work, and it can be a powerful aid to healing after surgery or radiation therapy.
These procedures can leave uncomfortable scar tissue, adhesions, and muscle imbalances. Restricted movement, altered posture, and chronic pain often result. After medical clearance is given, a skilled therapist can release restrictions, which in turn can reduce or eliminate pain and improve range of motion.
WHATto Expect in a Treatment
Depending on local laws, you may need to get a doctor’s referral (even if you have healthy breasts) and sign a consent form before receiving breast massage treatments. Breast massage is not advisable in certain circumstances, especially during treatments that make breast tissues more delicate, such as tissue expansion or radiation. It is also contraindicated in any case of infection or for direct contact on any undiagnosed lump. (3) For this reason, medical clearance is vital in the presence of any breast disease or trauma.
The therapist will take time to go over your health history and goals for the session, assess your posture and range of motion, and answer any questions you may have. If you are not comfortable being treated with your breasts exposed, you can opt to wear a loose T-shirt or be fully draped with a sheet.
Many women are surprised to find that therapeutic breast massage involves very little direct contact with breast tissue, and none at all with the nipple or areola. It requires active participation at times, as the therapist guides you through breathing and assisted stretching. Gentle pressure and movement are used to release tight connective tissue, adhesions, and contracted muscles in the chest and shoulder areas.