If it's good enough for my horse. . .Dry brushing - it sounds like an oil painting technique. It can look downright laughable.
Now, depending on whom you ask, you'll get explanations on dry brushing that involve increased circulation and improved draining of the lymphatic system. There's a fairly concise and easy-peasy explanation over at Birchbox.
I take it down to basics.
"Here's a face brush; now, pretend I'm a horse."
Yes, I have a soft face brush purchased from the tack store that I have my husband use to brush my feet, legs, shoulders - anywhere that is experiencing pain or swelling. (Stiff bristle brushes leave me feeling like I have a sunburn.) It looks bizarre, feels wonderful, and the most ridiculous part of all is -
It works. Just five minutes or so of brushing, and the swelling in my legs will be gone in thirty minutes, maybe less. The process, which places less pressure on my body that even stroking with an open hand, even gets deep knots in my back to release. Something only a TENS unit could achieve before.
Now, that's not to say I'm pain-free. I have never been pain-free, despite everything I've tried, in the past three years, or so. But it does reduce the pain dramatically. For me, dramatically means going from a 9/10 down to 6/10.
Using my TENS will take me from 9/10 or 10/10 down to a 4/10 or maybe 5/10, but the result is very different. With the TENS, there is almost a numbness associated with the relief. As thought the area is trying to yell about being hurt, but has lost its voice. Something is being reported, but it's difficult to describe.
With dry brushing, it's more like the area downgrades from screaming to rather loud grumbling.
How do you dry brush?
Ok, the first thing you need is a brush. You will have people insisting at you that it must be made of stiff, all natural bristles.
Listen to your body.
If you have skin that is very sensitive, particularly fibro aggravated skin like mine that feels sun-burnt when you run a stiff brush over it - maybe you should consider a different kind of brush.
Before I purchased my brush at the tack shop (And yes, I stood in the aisle and tested everything before making up my mind. Got more than a few raised eyebrows, I can tell you), I used to use a synthetic bristle brush where the bristles had coated tips. Of all my brushes, including the softer camel-hair ones, it was the only one that wasn't painful to use.
Got your brush? Good.
Now, the basic principal is to gently brush across your skin, drawing the brush toward your heart. So, you would go toe to knee, finger to shoulder, etc. Always moving the strokes toward your core.
However, with regard to the lymphatic system, there are ports at various points on the body that allow the system to drain more efficiently. Some of these ports even align to common fibromyalgia trigger points. There is a good reference image at movementhealsyou.com.
The next part, and for me, the suckiest, is experimentation. Some bodies respond better to soft, elongated strokes. And I know some people say they have better results with shorter, firmer strokes. Take time to test out different methods, over the course of several days. Why take so long? Simply put, your body may have a more sluggish system, and results may not be apparent in 15-, 20-, or 30-minutes. It may take an hour or more for you to really feel any changes. Give your body time to adjust and talk to you.
And then of course . . .
There is always the possibility that dry brushing doesn't help your body. And that is ok, too.
I have yet, in all my years of searching, to find that great panacea that cures everything for everyone.
Physicians, friends, random-ass people in the mall, told me over and over that heat would help my fibro pain. Warm, moist compresses. Warm, dry compresses. Center-of-the-sun, fast-food-coffee hot compresses. I tried them all. And my pain and stiffness got worse. Even just the summer heat here makes it worse.
At physical therapy, my therapist tried large ice packs that covered my back, and that finally worked. Ice and a TENS unit - my perfect Tuesday.
But now I have a new tool in my bag of tricks. So while I ice down and tingle from the TENS, I just have one request. Brush me pretty, please.
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