Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a light, skin stretching massage that is designed to help move lymph fluid back into remaining lymph vessels and reroute it out of your swollen limb. It is a very light and gentle massage and should not be confused with a traditional massage you may receive at a spa.
The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in protecting the body from infection and ridding the body of waste products. A vital ‘safety valve function’ maintains the correct balance of fluid throughout the tissues of the body. Manual Lymphatic drainage is very gentle and a highly effective medical massage technique that encourages natural circulation of the lymph throughout the body to improve the overall functioning of the lymphatic system.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a very detailed, light, slow and rhythmic massage. Technique used to perform MLD on the skin is no more than the weight of a teaspoon of water. This gentle technique stimulates the flow of lymph fluid in the vessels and nodes of the lymph system and increases the movement that accelerates the re-absorption of fluid and wastes that are present in the body tissues.
The direction and order of MLD technique is important as the gentle strokes. The neck, axilla and groin are areas where lymph nodes are concentrated. Starting close to the nodes, the treatment then extends by continuing the gentle stroke and moving farther away from the cleared nodes by degrees and always directing the fluid back toward them.
The effectiveness of MLD is in the ability to activate the stretch response which increases the pulsation rate of lymphangions and increases the lymph flow through the vessels. Stimulating the opening of the initial lymphatics can increase the volume of lymph flow by as much as 20 times.
No massage oils or lotions are used during treatment because the skin needs to be stretched in order for the lymph to move in the vessels and the therapists hands cannot slip or slide. A light touch is used because the initial lymphatics are only one cell thick and using greater pressure would create a counter-productive effect. Slow, rhythmic strokes are used to mimic the normal rate of lymph flow throughout the body. Repetition is important to overcome the inertia of the lymph in the vessels. Repeating the strokes time and time again ensures lymph actually moves. Manual Lymph Drainage massage can go where Deep Tissue and Swedish cannot-into swollen areas. The gentle, superficial technique has a deep impact on the removal of lactic acid build-up.