MANUAL LYMPH DRAINAGE (MLD)

MANUAL LYMPH DRAINAGE

Sam Reichgott, LMT, MLD/C is a trained lymphatic massage therapist. His training in Manual Lymph Drainage (Vodder Technique) is certified by the Academy of Lymphatic Studies.

What is Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)?

Manual Lymph Drainage is a gentle manual treatment that stimulates the lymphatic system. It increases the return of lymph to the circulatory system. Your lymphatic massage therapist’s goal is to assist and accelerate the body’s natural process of draining water, proteins and used cellular components from the spaces between living cells.

MLD is sometimes called lymphatic massage. But MLD is not the same as massage. Traditional massage includes kneading and manipulation of muscular tissue. In MLD, the lymphatic massage therapist focuses on the superficial lymphatic system. About 70% of the lymphatic system is just millimeters under the skin’s surface, so there is little reason for “deep” massage.

Who Should See A Lymphatic Massage Therapist?

MLD can be beneficial for a variety of conditions. People with the following conditions can benefit from MLD:

Localized edema (swelling) after surgery or trauma, or resulting from pregnancy, vigorous exercise, air travel or venous insufficiency – decreased swelling reduces discomfort and promotes healing

Migraine headaches – draining lymph from the cranial areas, relaxation and improvement in quality of sleep may reduce symptoms

Fibromyalgia – the gentle treatment is easily tolerated and has an analgesic effect

Cellulite – reduction in fluid promotes an improvement in skin appearance

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – the treatment is very relaxing and can help relieve symptoms of CFS

MLD can also be used as a detoxification treatment. The by-products of metabolic processes (“waste” products) are returned to the blood for natural elimination. Some people enjoy MLD at every change of season. Periodic full-body MLD treatment can help you feel better all year long.

What to Expect from Your Lymphatic Massage Therapist

Your lymphatic massage therapist should always begin by discussing your medical history. It’s important to be certain that MLD will be safe and effective for you.

An MLD session begins with gentle stimulation of the lymphatic ducts and major lymph nodes. This opens the gates to increased lymphatic flow. The opening sequence may include light pressure near the shoulders, neck, and inguinal lymph nodes. Your therapist may also use light pressure on the abdomen. The areas addressed by your lymphatic massage therapist depend on your health and medical condition, always with safety and comfort in mind.

The session proceeds with specialized strokes to stimulate the production and movement of lymphatic fluid. These strokes go no deeper than the skin. Depending on your treatment goals, work may be done on arms, legs, neck, face, trunk, or a combination of these areas. Most people find the treatment very relaxing. Often, the client drifts into a light sleep during the session. 

Who Should NOT Receive MLD?

MLD is generally safe, given the very light pressure used in the technique. There is little to no chance for tissue damage. But in cases where increased lymphatic flow would be detrimental, MLD should be avoided.

People with the following conditions should not receive MLD:

  • Acute infections, including inflammation caused by bacteria, viruses, poisons or allergens
  • Renal failure
  • Cardiac edema – swelling caused by cardiac insufficiency or other major heart problems
  • Acute deep vein thrombosis (DVT), phlebitis
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Malignant tumors

Prior to treatment, your lymphatic massage therapist will discuss your medical history, and in the interest of safety, we will not perform MLD in the presence of any of the above conditions. In addition, we are not certified to treat clients with lymphedema. Please consult a medical professional for proper referral and treatment.

We may limit your MLD treatment in the event of some other conditions. For example, no abdominal pressure will be applied to pregnant women, but they may receive MLD treatment to relieve edema in the legs.

RESOURCES

Academy of Lymphatic Studies, Certification in Manual Lymph Drainage (Vodder Technique), class materials.

Cathy Ulrich, The Benefits of Lymphatic Massage, massagetherapy.com.

Anne Willis, Manual Lymphatic Drainage and its Therapeutic Benefits, Positive Health, Issue 104 October 2004.

Sue Waterworth, Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage, Natural Therapy Pages, Sep 28, 2011.

What is MLD, Manual Lymphatic Drainage UK.

Guenter Klose, L.M.T., C.L.T.-L.A.N.A., How Manual Lymph Drainage Certification Will Change Your Massage Practice, October 1, 2014.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage Technique, realbodywork.com.

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