What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a special type of massage technique that stimulates the lymphatic system and promotes the flow of the lymphatic fluid. Done by a trained therapist, the aim of manual lymphatic drainage is to move the fluid from the swollen area to an area of the body where the lymphatic system works well.

In order to do this, the therapist prepares the area where he/she intends to drain the fluid into. This means massaging areas with normal lymphatic flow. It may be your chest, neck, or other areas. Once the area has been cleared, the therapist will then start to gently massage the affected sites.

Unlike other massage techniques, manual lymphatic drainage doesn’t use deep pressure. It only uses gentle pressure, combining slow and rhythmic movements to open up the lymphatic vessels and promote good flow of the lymphatic fluid.

How the Lymphatic Drainage Works

The gentle massage technique used in manual lymphatic drainage is based on the four strokes developed by Dr. Emil Vodder in the 1930s. These strokes include the stationary circle, the pump, rotary, and the scoop techniques.

All the four strokes have the working and resting phase. The working phase of the strokes stretches the lymphatic structures found in the subcutaneous tissue which results to an increased of lymphatic activity. The working phase also promotes movement of the lymphatic fluid in the desired direction. The resting phase, on the other hand, enables the absorption of the lymphatic fluid into the lymphatic vessels.

When done right, the stagnated lymphatic fluid can be re-routed into areas with healthy lymphatic vessels. The fluid can eventually be drained into the venous system.

Benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage is also considered as a detox massage as it encourages the lymphatic system to get rid of the metabolic waste products, toxins, and excessive fluid in the body. It stimulates the filtration system of the body, keeping away bacteria and other harmful substances from getting into the bloodstream.

Other benefits of the manual lymphatic drainage include the following:

  • Promotes clearer complexion and reduces appearance of wrinkles and fine lines

  • Reduces headaches

  • Promotes healing after an injury or surgery

  • Reduces fluid retention during pregnancy

  • Relieves stress

  • Helps reduce the swelling in lymphedema

Whether you’re suffering from lymphedema or simply looking for a non-invasive solution for your headaches and stress, manual lymphatic drainage can be a good option for you. Just make sure though that you’re getting it from a well-trained therapist.

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