Learning to massage your own breasts is a vital component of personal health and hygiene. It is easy, effective, safe, and a powerful way to enhance not only the health of breast tissue, but your overall health as well.
Breast tissue is comprised of fat, glands, blood vessels, milk ducts, connective tissue, nerves and a lacy network of lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic fluid leaves the breast through this network of lymphatic vessels that empty into a system of kidney-shaped glands which filter lymph fluid called lymph nodes. These lymph nodes are linked throughout the body and act as a major line of defense against the spread of disease in the body. When lymphatic vessels and nodes become restricted through lack of physical movement, or clothing that is too tight, the body’s defense system begins to break down and disease can set in.
Our breast tissue and physiology and anatomy must be respected. There's a lot of fat and a lot of lymph glands in our breasts and if we don't take care of them through gentle massage and daily "maintenance" then problems can begin. Wearing a bra and not massaging our breasts daily set us up for Cancer. Who needs it? You don't. And here's what you can do to stop it before it starts.
Behind the breast itself is the chest wall comprised of the pectoralis muscles and the rib cage muscles, called intercostals, which assist in breathing. With tension and stress, these muscles become quite tender to the touch.
There has been much research recently supporting the correlation between underwire bras and increases in breast cancer in women. The premise for this work is that the underwire, as well as a bra that fits too tight, impedes the body’s ability to move lymph through the breast tissue, as well as diminishes blood flow and nerve function. Other problems occur with breast tissue that has been held tightly within the confines of a bra for many hours per day, such as fibroids, cysts, nursing problems, pain and discomfort, and yeast infections.
Massage therapy has been proven to assist in promoting healthy breast tissue, reduce fibroids and cysts, relieve the pain and discomfort associated with PMS or from compression from bras, relieving the pain and tension from stress in the muscles of the chest wall, assist in healthy tissue regeneration and scar reduction following surgery, and as a logical proactive step against cancer and other diseases. The goal of this article is to provide accurate, easy to use information about maintaining personal breast health through self-massage.
Here is where all our lymph nodes and the major "stations" are located at in our breasts. As you can see, it's a busy place and even MORE reason to massage them on a regular basis to keep the lymph moving. Better out than in, is our maxim.
Here is an enlargement of a lymph node. These stations cannot be under rated or taken advantage of. Imagine, wearing a tight-fitting bra for 16 hours a day and what THAT does to the lymph that is trying to get out of there to be eliminated by the body--but can't! Another reason NOT to wear a bra, ladies.
The level of touch should be only a few ounces of pressure at most, delivered with full "palm-of-the-hand" contact, or broad contact with the underside of the fingers. Do not use very deep pressure (unless you have had reconstruction done) as the breast is rather sensitive to deep touch, and it may be uncomfortable. For lymphatic drainage, it takes very little pressure (like a soft tickling) to move lymph through the breast tissue. Do not use the tips of your fingers as that would provide a more probing, painful touch. Always work only within your comfort zone.
Some of the massage techniques which can be used include small circular strokes, moderate compressions, kneading-like motions, lifting and pressing, and light lymph compression.
Self massage can be done in the shower, lying down, or sitting… what ever is most comfortable for you, and appropriate.
Using the hand opposite the breast to be massaged, begin by gently applying moderate pressure circular strokes radiating out from the nipple and working into the underarm area as well as the center of the chest (sternum). You can spread your oil/lotion in this manner.
Move your fingers around your breast in a gentle motion. You can do this in the shower or bath by just lubricating your fingers with a little bit of soap to make gliding a bit easier. One could also do this with a mild lotion if they did not want to attempt this in their bath or shower. You are limited only by your own creativeness as to when you do it--just do it, however.
Use the flat underside of your fingers with a broad contact to gently, but firmly, scoop and lift the tissues beginning from the underarm area and moving in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, with medium pressure directed toward the nipple. Massage the whole circumference of each breast in this manner.
Starting with your right hand, using your fingers spread apart, follow the grooves of your ribs from the sternum, beginning just below your collar bone, and move outward toward your right breast for one or two inches. Gradually shift your position working your way down the sternum, following the rib grooves out as far as is comfortable. Repeat on the left side.
Your fingers will easily locate the "indents" between your breasts. In the middle is our sternum or breast bone. On either side of it you can feel the ribs and then the "valleys" between them. Place your fingertips in these valleys.
You may repeat any or all of these massage therapy movements during your self-massage session, up to two or three times each, if you wish.
Close by applying very, very light touch to the breast, smoothing the tissue away from the nipple. Breath fully. Relax. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Moving the lymph from the center of our breasts outward to those all important "stations" located along the sides of our breast and underarm, makes this a very necessary movement. You might want to visualize all the lymph fluid moving from your breasts, outward, to these stations, while you do this technique.
Robin Cunningham is a licensed massage therapist and holistic health practitioner. She can be reached at:
These wonderful illustrations that accompany this article are the work of Lyn De La Motte. She can be reached at email@example.com. Other examples of her work can be seen at http//:ramconsulting.co.za/lyn_de_la_motte.html. Be sure to check them out. She is very talented.
This article was originally written for a web site called www.medicinegarden.com. They share our concerns about women's health and the maintaining of quality lymphatic circulation. Medicinegarden.com has a lot of material on health and well-being that you may find to be of interest to you. It is certainly worth your time to check out the site.
We want to thank Eileen Nauman of medicinegarden, as well as Robin and Lyn, for allowing us to use this important article on this site.