Dry body brushing has existed in cultures for centuries. It has been used in ancients times to keep the body healthy and has now made its way back into popularity. Dry body brushing as a skin therapy for beauty and health has been used by almost all historical civilisations including the ancient Egyptians, Indians, Greeks and Romans, Chinese, Japanese, Scandinavians, Russians, Turks and Native Americans — because the health benefits are so extensive.
It can improve venous blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, release toxins, exfoliate dead skin, reduce ingrown hairs and many other health benefits. Many people use dry brushing successfully to assist with the relief of arthritis, improve poor circulation and smooth skin from the backs of leg and buttocks.Dry Body Brushing has been developed to aid the body's lymphatic drainage and for that reason all brush strokes are toward the major lymph nodes in the body.
Before Dry Body Brushing please take note of the following precautions:
- Never skin brush over active inflammation or during an active cancer state or over enlarged lymph nodes.
- Do not brush on sunburnt skin.
- Avoid face, neck, breasts and the genital area as the skin is different in these areas.
- If pregnant seek doctors advise first before skin brushing.
- If an allergic reaction appears stop brushing.
- Dry brushing does exfoliate skin, therefore regular washing of the brush is essential to remove dead skin from the bristles. Wash weekly and dry with the bristles facing down.
- A slight reddening of the skin (erythema) is normal, it is the blood circulation responding to the skin brushing.
General Rules of Dry Skin Brushing
- Always use a natural bristle skin brush, for optimum results use a plant bristle.
- Perform on dry skin only, this is not a bath brush.
- Generally stroke upward in one movement.
- Light strokes repeated 7 times.
- Adjust pressure to your comfort levels.
- It is best to follow brushing with some form of hydrotherapy i.e. shower or bath
- Don't brush more than you need to. Over doing it does not mean better results.
- Work from left to right side of body.
Arrows indicate brush stroke direction, toward the lymphatic nodes.
Steps to Dry Body Brushing
When brushing feet start on left side.
- Start at soles of feet, stroking brush from toes to heel follow each brush stroke with a soothing sweep of the other hand.
- Continue on top of foot from toes to ankles and ending at Achilles tendon behind ankle. Cover both sides of foot.
Continue upward brush strokes up the leg, moving from ankle to calf and shin, up to hamstrings and quadriceps, ensuring to cover entire leg, up toward the lymph groin area (see diagram, arrows are pointing in the direction of brush stroke)
Buttocks and Back
- Move to buttocks, starting at top of buttock, brush down to the gluteal fold (where buttock joins the leg) and sweep back again to top.
- Then from base of buttock sweep upward to outside of hip.
- Once reaching the lower back, start your brush stroke from spine and sweep brush stroke up and out to side of torso, all the way up to the shoulder blades and finishing from spine to over the shoulder.
- Repeat on right side
Lower abdominal: Starting left side, hold brush at navel and brush stroke downward and toward the lymph groin area, and then from navel outward to hip joint and side of torso. Repeat on right side.
Upper abdominal: Starting on left side, hold brush at navel and brush stroke upward and outward from mid to outer torso, under the breast line. Repeat this on right side.
Complete abdominal area with the concentric circular brush stroke. Starting at navel move in small circular clockwise strokes, not leaving the skin, gradually increase the circular strokes until reaching the outer abdomen. Then work in anti-clockwise brush strokes from large to small until back at the navel.
Hands and Arms
Brush from wrists to fingertips. Turn hand over and brush from fingertips (and in between fingers) to wrist and continue up the arm to the shoulder, working from inner to mid and to outer arm. Finish brush strokes over the armpit, with light strokes in small circular, clockwise direction.
Décolletage, Neck and Face
When brushing décolletage, neck and face it is recommended to use a softer brush for this area, due to the sensitivity of most skin around this region. Avoid brushing over breasts.
What to Expect
In completion to the dry body brush a slight reddening of the skin (erythema) is normal, it is the blood circulation responding to the skin brushing.
As so much dead skin cells sloughs off while dry brushing and works its way into the brush bristles, it's important to clean your dry skin brush regularly. Wash in hot soapy water with a Tea Tree Oil Soap and leave in the sun to dry or well ventilated area, with bristles facing down.
Dr Bruce Berkowsky: The Journal of Nature-cure: west/east fusion, Vital Chi Skin-brushing System. Vol.4 No.1.
Gunther Wittlinger: Textbook of Dr.Vodder's Manual Lymph Drainage. 7th Edition 2004.
Diagram: Tappan F 1988, "Healing Massage Techniques: Holistic, Classic and Emerging Methods" 2nd Edition Publisher: Appleton & Lange: Norwalk Pg 295-296
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