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Go with the Flow: Lymphatic Massage

MLD

BY KAITLYN WENGLER RMT

 

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a gentle, rhythmic massage technique used to help drain excess fluid from the body and improve overall lymphatic functionality. 

The lymphatic system is essentially the body’s drainage system which aids the immune system in removing and destroying waste, dead blood cells and toxins. 

While there are many methods of manual lymphatic drainage, the Vodder method is recognized throughout the world. Developed in the early 1930s by Dr. Emil Vodder and his wife, Estrid. The Vodder method is a way of treating clients with sinus infections and enlarged lymph nodes.  Dr. Vodder later published his method and coined the term “Manual Lymphatic Drainage” and began to teach it to others.  In present day Europe, manual lymph drainage is regularly provided to patients before undergoing surgery.

During lymphatic drainage treatment, therapists will use specific slow, rhythmic techniques by stretching, pumping and torqueing the skin in the direction of the lymph flow, or in the direction of desired lymph fluid. Just as running increases the function of the heart and lungs, manual lymph drainage increases the function of the lymphatics. This form of massage not only gives us the ability to direct lymph flow, it also gives us the means to direct the flow around obstructions.  If the lymph system has a blockage, MLD therapists can “build bridges” to get the fluid across or can open alternate routes to take the fluid around the obstruction. 

MLD decongests the tissues and allows fluid to flow freely around the body. This is how swelling is resolved and how lymphatic drainage promotes wound healing.

 

Conditions that respond to MLD therapy  

• Edema (swelling) 
• Lymphedema 
• Rheumatic diseases 
• Cosmetic disorders (rosacea, scars, stretch marks) 
• Orthopedic/surgical trauma- related disorders: whiplash, burns, surgery on large joints 
• Lactation disorders 
• Sinus congestion 
• Headaches 
• Breast pain/discomfort 
• Neurological disorders (stroke, multiple sclerosis, Down syndrome) 
• Burn-out Syndrome/ stress 

 

Effects of Manual Lymph Drainage 

• Decreases pain 
• Induces deep relaxation 
• Can assist immune system function 
• Increases blood flow without increasing blood pressure 
• Encourages drainage of excess fluid in the body 

It should be noted that the benefits of MLD continues well after the treatment is over and therefore some patients may not notice the benefits until after two-to-three treatments. 

 

 

 

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