MLD is an advanced style of massage therapy that uses specialised techniques involving rhythmic pumping techniques to stimulate the flow of lymph. It is the lymphatic system that collects and eliminates excess and waste fluid from the body. This system is found mostly just beneath the skin. Osteopaths offering manual lymphatic drainage would have post graduate training from one of the specific teaching schools such as Vodder, Foldi or Leduc.
Benefits of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) for health and wellbeing
MLD has many benefits including relaxation and improving the condition and texture of the skin. It also is used to treat a wide range of conditions, like build-up of toxins and fluid retention, constipation and other digestive problems, boosts immune system, recurring infections e.g. cold or flu, stress and anxiety. MLD is especially beneficial for traumatic bruising and swelling, painful joints, oedema from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis or with people who have poor mobility.MLD is very effective for alleviation of sinusitis, rosacea, cellulite, acne and pregnancy related oedema.
MLD calms the sympathetic nervous system which is essential in stress management and accelerates the body’s healing process. MLD promotes the healing of wounds and burns and can improve the appearance of old and new scars. Because of its light touch and specialised techniques MLD can be used directly after surgical procedure to reduce bruising and swelling around surgical site.
MLD consists of very light, rhythmic and calming hand movements to stretch the skin and stimulate the lymphatic system available from specially trained therapists. The aim of MLD is to redirect fluid from swollen areas through the healthy lymphatic vessels in unswollen areas, where the fluid and be drained back into circulation. It is particularly useful when swelling involves areas of the body where hosiery cannot easily be worn e.g. genitals, back, breast, neck, abdomen, armpit, chest and head. MLD also helps to reduce hardness of the tissues (called fibrosis) which can develop into lymphoedema.
“Lymph drainage is a healthy, natural, painless and absolutely effective method which gives a new basis to life, health and beauty” Emil Vodder 1936
MLD treatment is one aspect of lymphoedema management and is used in combination with other components of care such as exercises and multilayer bandages. It works best when used as part of a treatment routine and is not a “cure” in itself.
Other benefits of this specialised form of massage include:
Your initial treatment will be approximately 90 minutes including a full consultation beforehand to determine the correct treatment for you needs. Unlike most other massage types, the majority of lymph drainage is performed on the front of the body as this is where most of the lymph vessels and nodes are to be found. The sequence of the massage will be explained before proceeding, so you know exactly what to expect during treatment. Subsequent treatments will also be discussed with you according to your specific needs.
It is likely that you will feel tired after MLD treatment. This is normal and a sign that the lymphatic drainage system is working to remove the fluids from the tissues. You also may find yourself going to the bathroom more frequently and drinking more water than usual, again this is a normal reaction and a sign the lymphatic drainage system in working. Avoiding coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and heavy foods will allow the lymphatic system to work more efficiently. Everybody is different and the effects of an MLD treatment vary from person to person.