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Edema Massage

Edema Massage: Best Massage for Swelling During Pregnancy

Question:

I’m six months pregnant, and I’m having a serious problem with swelling, particularly my feet, ankles, and lower legs. Sometimes I have a hard time finding shoes to wear comfortably, and it’s difficult to walk up and down the stairs. When I was talking to my sister about it, she went on and on about how I needed a massage. What’s the best massage to combat swelling during pregnancy?

Answer:

Congratulations on your new addition! As you may know, edema – the swelling in your lower legs, ankles, and feet – is caused by the retention of fluids. To relieve edema, you have to get fluid moving through and out of the body, and massage is good at this.[1]

Swedish massage is the best massage for you. This gentle, soothing massage relaxes muscle tension and also improves lymphatic and blood circulation. This is crucial for reducing swelling, because edema is caused by reduced circulation. Improving your circulation decreases the collection of fluids in your lower extremities, as well as improving the removal of tissue waste carried by the lymph system.[2] In fact, Swedish massage comes recommended by the American Pregnancy Association because it address many common discomforts associated with pregnancy.[3]

A study published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice found that pregnant women who were given 20-minute foot massages daily for five days had significantly smaller relative lower leg circumferences than those who didn’t. Massage therapy is particularly effective in late pregnancy.[4]

Look for a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage, and ask about their qualifications. Massage therapy is generally considered safe at any stage of pregnancy, but you want to keep your massage therapist informed about your health status and communicate any concerns clearly.[5] You can have a full-body massage if you prefer, but if you don’t feel comfortable with that you can also get a massage that focuses exclusively on your lower legs and feet. A full-body massage isn’t necessary to treat edema. As your due date draws near, foot massages can be especially beneficial.[6]

To benefit from cumulative effects, try to book a massage session at least once a week for the remainder of your pregnancy. Of course, you can have them more often if you wish. Massage is generally safe and has no adverse side effects, so feel free to indulge as often as you like.

References:

[1] Women’s Health Open Journal: “Treatment of Leg and Foot Edema in Women,” https://openventio.org/Volume3-Issue2/Treatment-of-Leg-and-Foot-Edema-in-Women-WHOJ-3-124.pdf

[2] American Pregnancy Association: “Massage and Pregnancy – Prenatal Massage,” http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/prenatal-massage/

[3] Id.

[4] International Journal of Nursing Practice: “Effect of foot massage to decrease physiological lower leg oedema in late pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial in Turkey,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20854342

[5] American Pregnancy Association: “Massage and Pregnancy – Prenatal Massage,” http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/prenatal-massage/

[6] Women’s Health Open Journal: “Treatment of Leg and Foot Edema in Women,” https://openventio.org/Volume3-Issue2/Treatment-of-Leg-and-Foot-Edema-in-Women-WHOJ-3-124.pdf

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