What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)?
MLD is a highly specialised skin technique developed in Europe in the 1930s by Dr Emil Vodder. The technique has an intensely relaxing effect masking the strength of the treatment itself. The method is a very gentle, ‘light touch’ form of massage using light, rhythmical, very precise hand movements, pressures, and sequences which encourage the lymph fluid to flow freely around the body.
Generally, it is performed without oil and works at a skin level (only 0.3 mm depth) to influence the direction and speed of lymphatic flow, re-directing if necessary. It also increases the venous flow without increasing arterial blood flow.
Physio4Life is AXA Approved for MLD Therapy
A treatment commences at the neck to clear the area and ‘make space for lymph to be brought there. The next parts of the sequence will depend entirely on why MLD is being performed and the particular needs of the individual.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage Therapist
What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is a network of tubes throughout the body that drains fluid (called lymph) from tissues and empties it back into the bloodstream. The lymphatic system consists of lymphatic vessels, lymph fluid and lymphatic tissue/organs such as lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus, spleen and Peyer’s patches.
The main role of the lymphatic system includes:
- Managing the fluid levels in the body
- Filtering out bacteria and other body toxins
- Producing and storing lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells which fight off pathogens)
- Absorbing and transporting fatty acids and fats to the circulatory system
- Protecting our bodies from pathogens (e.g. bacteria and viruses)
The lymphatic system is a very important part of our immune system that protects us from disease.
Unlike the circulation of blood, the lymphatic system has no pumping mechanism. Instead, it relies, for example, on muscular movement and breathing to assist the flow of lymph fluid. Unfortunately, the lymphatic system can become very sluggish (due to our sedentary lifestyles and high fat/high salt diets), leading to puffiness, bloating, constant tiredness, low immunity and frequent infections.
Manual lymphatic drainage increases the flow of the lymph fluid through the lymph nodes encouraging the production of lymphocytes and hence aiding in the prevention of disease.
What are the benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)?
- Deep relaxation: As it is a very light massage, utilizing repetitive and continuous hand movements, it has a calming effect on the autonomic nervous system, which Vodder explains as “a change from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state”, stressing the importance of the lightness of touch so as not to trigger a release of histamines in the tissue which would otherwise overstimulate. The effect is to induce a state of deep relaxation in the body, allowing even the walls of vessels and bowels to be relaxed.
- Analgesic: based on the Gate Theory, the nociceptors (pain receptors) and mechanoreceptors (touch receptors) of the central nervous system share a synapse or pathway. A simplified explanation could be that the touch receptors are stimulated by the light, repetitive touch of MLD; these signals overtake or crowd out those sent by the pain receptors. MLD will also remove from cells the chemicals associated with the central nervous system’s pain response.
- Boosting the immune system: Lymph stagnation impedes the body’s immunological response, so speeding up the workings of the lymphatic system must promote it. Certainly, people who are receiving MLD on a regular basis, report that they no longer pick up colds and sore throats as frequently as they may have done before having the treatment.
Prevention and Remedy to Chronic Conditions (see below):
- Pain – joint swelling, muscular pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, migraine, chronic headaches
- Skin – cellulite, aids in weight loss
- Fluid retention – swollen feet and ankles (inc sprained ankles), puffy eyes or face
- Respiratory conditions – sinusitis, nasal congestion, catarrh
- Immune conditions – recurring colds & flues, recurring inflammation & infections, allergies, auto-immune disorders
- Digestive conditions – chronic constipation, flatulence, bloating, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Stress, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, lethargy
Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage is also used for:
- Post-plastic surgery (e.g. face, neck, abdomen, thighs etc.) – reduces pain, bruising and swelling
- Post-operative inflammation (e.g. after liposuction etc.) – it reduces inflammation, and bruising and prevents scarring
- Post-traumatic events (e.g. accidents, sports injuries etc.) – it reduces swelling, pain, bruising and inflammation
- The prevention, treatment and control of lymphoedema (e.g. after breast- or prostate cancer)
- The treatment of lipoedema and phleboedema
Benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage during Pregnancy
During the third trimester of pregnancy, some women can experience circulatory problems that often appear as:
- Swollen Legs and/or feet
Inadequate circulation can certainly create the uncomfortable sensation of tired and heavy legs. Poor circulation is the result of two main factors generated by poor blood return and water retention.
The first one, mechanic, is the result of the compression of the inferior vena cava (IVC) by the uterus that expands with the baby and compresses the main vein carrying the blood up from the legs. With the growth of your baby, the compression increases and the normal blood return to your lower limbs decreases.
The second factor is hormonal and linked to the high concentration of oestrogen and relaxin secreted by your body during pregnancy. Indeed, these two hormones decrease the tonus of your veins.
As your veins become hypotonic and are compressed by your womb, it becomes more difficult for the blood to flow back to the upper body; thus, it stagnates in the lower limbs longer. This, together with the water retention, causes your legs to swell and makes them feel heavy and tired. The circulatory disorders can sometimes continue after the pregnancy or can appear even without pregnancy.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage is safe throughout a woman’s pregnancy – safe for the mother and safe for the baby. As well as not being detrimental, it is enhancing because it is reducing congestion. As long as pre-eclampsia is ruled out, MLD is the treatment of choice for puffy eyes, puffy ankles and tired, swollen legs during pregnancy. It can help make pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel manageable and is another good preparation for labour tool because of its calming and soporific effect.
Why suffer the pain when you can have a comfortable pregnancy?
Some of the many pathologies that can benefit from MLD include fibromyalgia, disorders associated with the head and neck (chronic sinusitis, migraines, whiplash), hypertension, stress, allergies, common acne and acne rosacea, constipation, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, localized post-traumatic oedema, bruising, surgical procedures (useful to complement mobilization by physical therapy), and many more. MLD can be used to improve scar tissue and reduce bruising after surgery or injury. It is an excellent therapy for rejuvenation as a beauty treatment and can reduce puffiness and fine lines, and wrinkles.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to receive MLD treatment if you are suffering from the following:
- Malignant tumour process
- Acute infection
- Cellulitis (skin infection)
- Cardiac decompensation
- Deep venous thrombosis
Contact Physio4Life in Putney at 020 8704 5998
Contact us about Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Lymphatic Drainage London
MLD is a highly specialised skin technique developed in Europe in the 1930’s by Dr. Emil Vodder. The technique has an intensely relaxing effect masking the strength of the treatment itself. The method is a very gentle, ‘light touch’ form of massage using light, rhythmical, very precise hand movements, pressures, and sequences which encourage the lymph fluid to flow freely around the body.
Sports Massage/Reflexology Massage/Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi/ Preganancy Massage Therapist