MASSAGE FOR WOMEN - BREAST WELLNESS IN
Articles below give quite an exhaustive list of protocols and strokes for breast massage.
I think maybe I can simplify. The direction I give is this - move fluid through tissue.
I should mention the book, "Dressed To Kill" about the research done on bras and breast cancer.
(Finding -- more hours per day of wearing a bra equals more chance of breast cancer.)
Since bras tend to slow or stop movement of fluid through breast tissue, then take off the bra
and massage the breast in a way that gets fluid to move!
Women can practice this on their own breasts while in the shower and all soaped up and slippery. It should:
- not hurt
- feel pleasant
- stay off the nipple
Massage Deserves Attention
Breasts are body tissues with their own health needs. At some point
in time, most women will experience breast congestion, breast pain,
discomforts of diagnostic or surgical procedures, and anxieties
about lumps or other changes in their breast tissues.
breastfeeding have their set of associated breast tissue needs.
Unfortunately, many women experience physical and psychological
trauma related to their breasts. And then there is breast cancer -
impacting directly on the lives of many women, and indirectly on all
Conditions and occurrences affecting breasts lead women to seek
medical help and to self-medicate. Statistics indicate many women
complain of breast pain to their doctors.
At the same time, most sources reporting these stats believe women
underreport breast problems, presumably for similar reasons to those
h lead us to be uncomfortable about breast massage.
The fact that breasts
are strongly associated with sexual touching and attractiveness does
not mean they cannot or should not receive health care. In fact,
this symbolism adds a set of psycho-emotional concerns many women
need help with in order to feel more at ease about doing routine
self-examination and seeking the therapies they need in a
Massage Indications and Contraindications
congestion, oedemas, lymphodema
discomforts of pregnancy, breastfeeding, weaning
general drainage problems (family tendency, large breasts,
tenderness and congestion related to benign conditions and
changes associated with involution
following diagnostic procedures and recent surgeries,
relief and promotion of good quality scarring
restrictive, adhered, poorly oriented scars
reduction of pectoralis major tone following submuscular
discomforts related to cancer treatment*
integration of post-surgical changes, helping the client
become comfortable with her body
education in self examination, self massage
client request for breast massage
client has a personal goal of becoming more comfortable
with her breasts and having them touched
client wants assistance in breast monitoring
lactational mastitis, post-surgical infection, current
active infection for any reason
specific on-site work at the location of an undiagnosed
specific on-site work at the location of an abscess
use of closed capsulotomy, or any other forceful technique
attempting to reduce implant-related contracture direct
pressure on an implanted breast manifesting a distorted
implanted breast with submuscular placement manifesting
lateral breast and subscapular pain (possible serratus
client cannot clarify her wishes or comfortable boundaries
therapist cannot establish professional neutrality
client and therapist cannot establish open communication
client does not give consent, or withdraws consent
* When treating a client with breast cancer, the therapist
must have a body of knowledge about cancer, cancer therapies,
and implications for massage treatment planning, as well as
referral from the client's physician.
We cannot ascribe to
the thinking that by examining or treating a breast (with consent),
a trained health care practitioner is by definition doing something
sexual. A therapist with sexual or abusive intent can convey this in
the way he or she touches any body part, and with all manner of
other verbal and non-verbal cues.
therapist will be especially conscious of avoiding any such possible
interpretations when treating body parts known to be more
emotionally charged. We assume doctors, nurses, lab technicians and
others can appropriately handle the necessities of working with
breast tissues. Are massage therapists so different?
Massage therapy is an
effective "wellness" treatment for breasts, as breasts
particularly need good circulation and tissue mobilization for
optimum health. Poor circulation can produce various uncomfortable
symptoms. Breast scarring (surgically and traumatically induced),
which is more common than we often realize, can cause painful
syndromes and obstruct blood and lymph flow.
Some believe there
may be a correlation between chronic poor breast drainage and
susceptibility to malignancy. Massage techniques and hydrotherapy
may in fact turn out to be some of the most effective modalities for
addressing such problems and promoting breast health.
Many women need more
help becoming comfortable with breast self-examination than they
receive in their doctors' offices. Some have traumatic histories and
need assistance achieving a sense of normalcy about their breasts
and the types of touch involved in seeing to their care. As well, a
skilled palpator may be more successful in picking up early-stage
breast tissue changes needing medical follow-up than a client would
herself. Given the time spent, the regular treatment intervals, the
privacy of the circumstances, and the trained empathy and physical
skill of the practitioner, massage therapists really have something
There are some very
important safety concerns, both for the client and the practitioner.
Some people have histories which can make it difficult for them to
distinguish present realities from past experiences, and some people
find it especially tough to talk clearly about what they accept and
cannot accept as treatment - referring to both clients and health
care workers. Our personal stories are often the same. There are no
magic answers about how to identify the situations to avoid.
Most of the confirmed
disciplinary cases I am aware of have arisen from circumstances
where the massage therapist did not communicate clearly, did not
properly obtain consent, and/or did not maintain professional
boundaries. However, there are some definite risks - there are
high-risk clients and there are high-risk circumstances. It is
important to keep in mind these circumstances are not exclusive to
Can we justify
letting our concerns about risks cause us to completely overlook the
legitimate treatment needs of breasts? Is it right that breast
health care is not getting the attention from our profession that it
should? Should women have to suffer from pain and other symptoms
which could be ameliorated if we were comfortable addressing them in
the way we would be for other body tissues? Is there any way massage
therapists can help in the fight against breast cancer?
left side demonstrates the vascular system of arteries and veins.
The right side shows the lymph nodes and direction of lymphatic
flow away from the breast
Self Care for Your
While one in eight women will
find themselves in the grasp of breast cancer during their lifetime,
you don't necessarily have to be one of them. The information
provided in this brochure will give you some insight into how your
breasts work and what you can do to keep them functioning properly.
The goal of this
brochure is to help in the prevention of breast cancer. It doesn't
make sense to leave your health to chance. Even the Self Breast Exam
is designed to help you after you get a tumour or breast cancer.
This is not to say that you shouldn't regularly check yourself for
lumps. Early detection does greatly increase your odds of surviving
cancer. However, waiting for cancer rather than actively
participating in its avoidance can be detrimental too your health.
Your breasts are
essentially structures made up of fat and gland, mounted to the
female's chest wall with a delicate system of ligaments. The
circulation in the breast is much the same as the rest of the body
consisting of arteries, veins and lymphatic vessels. In short, the
arteries bring fresh blood too the cells carrying along with it the
nutrition that the breast and its tissues need for proper health.
The veins bring the blood back from the cells along with cellular
waste and toxins. The lymphatics are designed to return the toxin
and other waste materials that lie in the intercellular fluid
between the cells.
Toxins are believed
by many to be the local beginnings of cancerous tissue. It is
imperative that these toxins be continually removed through the
body's veins and lymphatic vessels. When these toxins are unable to
exit the body properly, the possibility of cancer increases.
A recent study of
4,700 women found that women who wore brassieres had an increased
chance of acquiring breast cancer. It is very possible that the
constant pressure that the bra puts on the breast is limiting the
flow of toxins that need to be released, resulting in the increased
cancer rate. Any more than a gentle amount of pressure can flatten
the lymphatic vessel and stop the toxic flow from the breast.
The Study found the
highest rate of breast cancer in those who wore bras 24 hours a day,
and the lowest rate in those who never wore bras. The study
suggested that women should wear their bra less than 12 hours a day.
Now that you have a
better understanding of your breasts, it is important that you apply
this knowledge to your health. The four-step procedure shown on this
page will give you a simple massage technique that can be done, by
yourself, in the privacy of your own home. Although almost any
gentle massage technique will be of benefit, these four techniques
should be a part of your personal regimen.
The purpose of these
techniques is to flush fluids from the breast, (both venous and
intercellular), bring nutrition to the tissues and specifically
remove the toxins via the lymphatic system. Also, these techniques
will enhance the health and elasticity of the support ligaments,
which will in turn provide you with better breast support.
step One is a gentle draining motion designed to drain the breasts
lymphatic system and is possibly the most important of the four
steps. Steps number Two and Four are to assist in the movement of
venous fluids. Feel free to experiment with these to movements and
find what is comfortable for you. Step Three is simply to help keep
your support ligaments in good health and assist in the fight
This procedure should
be done at least twice a week. It can be done on bare skin, but you
may find that using some vegetable oil may be more comfortable. Stay
away from mineral-based or scented oils.
Step One: Use your
fingers to gently smooth away from the nipple. These movements
travel from the nipple and directly away using no more pressure than
what you would apply to your eyelid. Any more pressure would flatten
the lymphatic vessel and stop the flow of toxins and fluids. Also,
make this stroke slow, not fast, for it to be effective.
Step Two: Gently
massage the breast with a kneading-like motion, using lifting and
Step Three: Slowly
and carefully use your hands to twist the breast in a clock-wise and
anticlockwise direction, being careful not to put too much tension
on the breast.
Four: Use both hands as shown to apply several, moderate pressure,
compressions to move out more pressure fluids.