Manual Lymphatic Drainage, or M-L-D is a technique that only specialized massage therapists use, having to become registered lymphedema therapists. The goal of M-L-D is to stimulate the lymphatic system and help it get back to moving properly. Manual Lymphatic Drainage has been used since the 1930’s in Europe and was designed originally to help unblock lymph nodes in the arms and legs that had become clogged. Originally, it was designed as a way to detoxify the body and is still used for this purpose to this day.
If you feel that you have lymphadema, or blocked lymph nodes you are absolutely a candidate for a good M-L-D session. If you feel that you need help detoxifying or have inflammation issues, a Manual Lymphatic Drainage session could help with these issues as well. There is anecdotal evidence that these sessions are helpful in reducing chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms as well. Most patients feel energized and have a sense of well being following treatment.
The lymphatic system is the core of the immune system and any changes made can affect the entire body. This typically is a good thing; however, if you are fighting an infection it could interrupt your lymphatic system’s ability to fight the infection. If you have a fever, an active infection or any other health problem that is not currently being treated, the therapist should be alerted so they can decide if an M-L-D session is right for that day. Some techniques may need to be avoided during a woman’s menstrual cycle as well as it can be uncomfortable. Make sure you communicate thoroughly with your therapist before commencing treatment.
A typical M-L-D session is going to begin with an interview by the therapist. They are going to find out if your past sessions, if any, made you feel better, worse or the same. The session begins and must be done on unoiled, bare skin. The session consists of the therapist using gentle, circular movements around the lymph nodes at the base of your neck. The lymphatic system is all throughout your body and the therapist works to restore flow throughout, varying pressure where needed to make sure that they are getting through muscle tissue to the lymphatic system itself. If the therapist feels a blockage, they use more specialized techniques to help break up the blockage and restore flow. The session typically is 30 to 60 minutes long depending on what is being done and how many blockages there are. After a session, you likely will feel a need to urinate and your urination frequency will be more than normal for a few hours after a Manual Lymphatic Drainage session. This is due to the toxins and excess fluids are now moved out and are being processed by your kidneys. Be sure to drink plenty of water after a session; your therapist will tell you how much you should drink and for how long afterwards.