Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
MLD is a specialized massage type that gently assists the lymphatic system in maintaining the body’s fluid balance, blood circulation, and immune mechanisms. The system’s network of vessels and nodes contains lymph, a mixture of water, proteins, immune system components, waste products, and other remnants of cell metabolism. Lymph nodes, which filter out the debris, are found throughout the body, with especially large groups of them in the neck, armpits, and groin. These major collections of lymph nodes ensure that the lymph passes through as many nodes as possible before it returns to the circulatory system.
During a lymph drainage massage, the therapist uses a series of gliding, compressing, stretching, and cupping motions over the client’s body. The light rhythmic movements, applied without massage oil, stimulate the lymphatic system without compressing the vessels – allowing lymph to move easily through the tissues and lymph nodes. MLD follows a specific sequence over the body so lymph isn’t trapped anywhere, making sure every area is treated with care.
What are the proposed effects MLD can have on the lymphatic system and health?
The rhythmic & repetitive nature of this technique reduces sympathetic activity (aka fight or flight) even more effectively than remedial massage therapy. The specific techniques activate mechanoreceptors in the smooth muscle around the lymphangion. This causes it to contract and refill at an increased rate increasing lymph uptake from Loose Connective Tissue (LCT) actively reducing inflammation & breaking inflammatory cycles in our bodies.
Stimulation of these mechanoreceptors also serves to activate the ‘gate mechanism’ which stops pain messages being sent to the brain and is beneficial at reducing the amount of pain felt.
Softening of fibrosis and scar tissue in the body.
Change the thixotropic state of LCT – which basically means the lymphatic system is able to pick up excess fluid and biochemical waste from the LCT with greater ease.
Who could benefit from receiving MLD? (& what can be treated)
Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
Headaches and migraine treatment
Assist in the management of rheumatic disease and inflammatory autoimmune conditions
Acute injuries or sprains
Elite athletes, incorporated into active recovery plans
Assist post-surgery recovery by reducing inflammation and expediting the removal of biochemical waste products from the tissue.
Pregnancy-related inflammation and swelling