Most of the time, when people hear about Lymphatic Drainage Massage, or Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) Massage, they think it’s only for people who suffer from lymphedema.
While it certainly is effective as a form of medical massage therapy, MLD provides numerous benefits to the human body. In fact, Lymphatic Drainage has recently become a technique of choice among many massage lovers, including multiple celebrities, because of its many benefits, including weight loss.
What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage?
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, a specially-trained massage therapist uses a series of gliding, compressing, stretching, and cupping motions over your 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.
The History Of Lymphatic Drainage Massage
In the 1930s, the Danish husband and wife team of Emil and Estrid Vodder developed the strokes and sequence of what they called Lymphology. This was the origin of MLD. It caught on quickly in France and became a recommended treatment in the medical community for lymphedema resulting from radiation for cancer and chemotherapy. There are many studies and articles that document its effectiveness.
As the knowledge and awareness of MLD grew, offshoots and modifications of the original Vodder technique were developed, providing clients with more options. In the 1970s, German professors Michael and Etelka Foeldi built a clinic to treat patients and educate therapists. In Arizona, at his school for Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT), Bruno Chikly – a French physician – expanded the techniques to address more than the lymphatic system.
Why Get a Lymphatic Drainage Massage?
Nowadays, many men and women incorporate lymphatic drainage massage into their skincare and wellness routines due to its esthetic benefits and detoxification properties. Many proponents for MLD say that this massage technique is effective for pain relief, digestive problems, hormonal imbalances, skin conditions (such as acne and rosacea), cellulite, allergies, headaches, and a long list of other issues.
It is also being used following cosmetic surgery to reduce swelling and flush byproducts of anesthesia out of the body. MLD has become a popular spa treatment for skin care, managing seasonal allergies, detoxification, jet lag, general stress reduction, and there is even a specific type of MLD devoted to facial rejuvenation.
Manual Lymph Drainage massages are the ideal way to improve your lymph system so that you can live a healthy, happy life.
So How Does the Lymph System Work?
One of the most important systems within the human body is the lymph system. It is vital to filtering out waste, toxins, and other unwanted substances that would otherwise harm the human body. If it didn’t function, or if we didn’t have it in our bodies at all, then we would fill with toxic, stagnant fluid, our bodies becoming balloons inflated by waste.
In fact, the lymphatic system is so important to the body that a weak or slow lymph system could be the cause of many of your body’s aches and pains. In many people, a less-functioning lymph system is the cause of low energy levels and a higher number of sicknesses.
Sounds pretty important, huh?
Your Lymph Vessels
Lymph vessels fill most of your body. Most of your lymph system is made up of a network of vessels that carry a fluid called lymph – go figure – throughout your body. This network can be found in every single inch of your skin and surrounding every organ. Much of the network of lymph vessels can be found very close to the surface of your skin.
As fluid builds up at the edges of your lymph vessels – in a tiny structure called the initial lymphatic – it starts to deform the walls of the initial lymphatic until it builds up so much that it breaks an opening in it, forcing its way into your lymph vessels.
The lymph vessels carry a moderate amount of lymph through your body daily – less than three liters – but it is vital that the lymph gets filtered, since it helps filter out and remove things that would otherwise clog up other bodily systems. The lymph vessels filter out waste, harmful excess protein, dead cells, bacteria, fats, and more.
When you receive lymphatic drainage massage, the lymph vessels and initial lymphatic get stimulated, improving your lymph flow by nearly two thousand percent!
Your lymph vessels contract and stretch to push and pull the lymph throughout your body. When the space from one lymph vessel to another contracts, it causes a chain reaction throughout the body! This means that when one area of your lymph system gets stimulated, the lymph flow in another area of your body can improve, as well! MLD is so effective because it activates a stretch and contract response in your lymph system, improving the rate that your lymph system moves the lymph through your vessels.
Your Lymph Nodes
Eventually, as your lymph travels through your vessels, it reaches your lymph nodes. There are over four hundred lymph nodes in your body, many of which are in your abdomen, groin, armpits, and neck.
The lymph nodes are extremely important because their job is to purify and filter your lymph. They produce a type of white blood cell that target and destroy harmful substances in your body. As you probably know, white blood cells are an important part of the immune system. The white blood cells produced by your lymph nodes are especially important to your immune system.
The lymph nodes are especially thick because of how they absorb and filter the lymph, which means that lymph flows much slower through your lymph nodes. The lymph experiences more resistance when flowing through your nodes than anywhere else, as well – up to fifteen times more resistance than through any other part of your lymph system! MLD helps to overcome the resistance build-up in your nodes, helping your lymph to flow and filter faster.
Uses of Lymph Drainage Massage
Lymph drainage massage is extremely helpful for increasing the lymph flow of the human body. When your lymph flow improves, your immune system does, as well. Harmful substances are removed from the tissues and neutralized in the nodes. It has also been shown that an increase in lymph flow stimulates an increased production of white blood cells within your lymphatic system – which enhances your immune function.
MLD’s most well-known use is to help fight off lymphedema. Lymphedema is a type of swelling that can occur anywhere on your body, but often occurs in your arms or legs when your lymph system is damaged, removed, or underperforming. Lymphedema deforms your body, causing extreme swelling and bubbles to form on the skin and around joints. The swelling is actually an extreme build-up of toxic and stagnant fluids in your body.
Lymphedema can be caused by many things. If your lymphatic system isn’t functioning properly, and you have an excess of harmful proteins in your lymph system, then fluids can build up and cause it. Cancer patients can also get lymphedema from surgery or radiation. You may also become susceptible to lymphedema as you age, or if you have certain forms of arthritis. There are other causes of edema, as well, including infections that you can get in various tropical climates throughout the world. There’s even a chance that you may suffer from a hereditary issue that negatively affects the development of your lymphatic system.
If you have extreme amounts of edema, then you should work with one of our masseurs trained in Lymphatic Drainage Massage Therapy!
If you are suffering from a lack of energy, or a sluggish immune system, then MLD may be right for you.
Lymphatic drainage massage is also helpful if you are currently suffering from or have recently suffered from sports injuries. After inflammation dies down, you can receive lymphatic drainage massage as a form of therapy. This will help to clear the tissue of debris and help to reduce the minor edema that sometimes occurs after deep massage. Continued applications of lymphatic drainage while the client is healing can help to enhance the tissue regeneration process by keeping the tissue as healthy as possible.
Alongside its use for helping to rehabilitate sports injuries, MLD can also help scars. MLD has shown the ability to improve circulation and immunity, which can aid the scarring process. As the lymph flow around the scar is increased, lymph vessels that have been damaged are stimulated to heal, and the increased lymph flow also draws away toxins, improving the health of the tissues.
Aside from its ability to help treat various injuries, Estheticians have been using lymph drainage massage for a very long time to help enhance the quality of the skin, especially on the face. If your lymph is flowing properly, then your skin will constantly be refreshed with new fluid, causing your skin to look smoother and more alive. Pretty much everyone knows the feeling of having minor lymphedema in the face. Have you ever woken up in the morning after a long night, with bags under your eyes and a puffy face? Yep, that’s edema!
However, after sitting or standing upright for a little while, the lymph system will usually begin to drain the face, removing the appearance of the bags and smoothing the skin over. MLD is extremely effective at removing bags and draining the tissues in your face. It can help you to look younger, more vibrant, and healthier – essentially, the best version of you! And it applies to anywhere that you will get treated. MLD is perfectly designed to help decrease swelling and improve the quality of your skin.
Manual Lymph Drainage Massage improves both the blood and lymph circulation throughout your body. Proper blood circulation contributes to weight loss and can make it easier for you to drop those stubborn pounds! Toxins can also make it more difficult to lose weight, and when they are removed – which is what your lymphatic system is for – your body gets re-energized, boosting your immune system and allowing your body to direct its energy and blood flow to fat cells.
You can also lose weight through MLD because it helps to decrease excess water retention. Not only does MLD help remove the water retention and help you lose weight, but the right amount of water retention also can help to make it harder to suffer from unhealthy weight gain. Better and more effective water retention also helps to cure aches and joint pain.
Yet another regular use for lymph drainage massage is with women who have had breast cancer and had surgery to remove lymph nodes in their torso. Sometimes these people develop edema in their arm or leg. If there is a great deal of swelling, then this is too severe to be treated by lymph drainage massage therapy.
If the swelling is minor however, then a lymphatic drainage massage therapist can work wonders to help improve circulation and relieve the swelling caused the edema.
Who Should Avoid Lymphatic Drainage Massage?
For the most part, lymphatic drainage massage is safe. MLD is extremely gentle, which means that the chances of it damaging your tissue are slim to none. However, there are a few conditions that are signs that lymph drainage may not be for you, usually when an increase of lymph flow would be bad for you.
It is usually a great idea to check with your doctor before receiving a lymphatic drainage massage. Severe inflammation, cancer and malignant tumors, thrombosis or phlebitis, and major heart conditions are all contraindications to lymphatic drainage massage – meaning that they make MLD undesirable for you.
Any sort of acute inflammation caused by bacteria, viruses, poisons or allergens is contraindicated. You can tell if this is the case because the tissues will be hot, red and painful, with congestion accompanied by fever.
Lymphatic drainage massage is unsafe if you have acute inflammation because it will push these substances into the lymph channels before the body has a chance to eliminate them. If you receive lymphatic drainage while you are suffering from inflammation, then it may spread the toxic substances throughout the body. Wait a few days until the condition is not severe, and the body has had a chance to clean up the area.
If you have cancer or malignant tumors, then you should avoid MLD because of the fear of spreading the cancer. Wait until after the malignancy is treated before receiving lymphatic drainage massage.
If you suffer from thrombosis and phlebitis, you should avoid MLD. They both are conditions that can lead to free floating blood clots.
If you have major heart problems or a heart condition, then it would probably be best to avoid Lymphatic Drainage Massage. Putting more fluid into the heart would most likely only stress it more, worsening your condition.
Lymphatic drainage massage is a great way to help your body in many ways. By having your lymph system addressed directly, your immune system function can be significantly increased. When we have a strong immune system, we are happy, balanced and whole. Lymphatic drainage massage can go where Deep Tissue and Swedish cannot- into swollen areas. It may be a seemingly superficial massage, but it has a deep and far-reaching impact on your body.
Is Manual Lymphatic Drainage Right For Me?
Now, you might be wondering whether MLD is right for you, and why you would choose lymph drainage over a more traditional massage technique. Of course, conventional massages like Swedish massage or deep tissue massage are both delightful experiences for your muscles, joints, nervous system, and attitude.
However, deciding to schedule a lymphatic drainage massage goes a step further. It may be a good idea to cleanse your body’s tissues as the seasons change, after a severe illness or a major injury, or shortly after a particularly stressful time in your life. Lymphatic Drainage Massage’s focus on detox and purification helps to rejuvenate your energy. Afterwards, you’ll feel like you can take on whatever the world will throw at you.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage increases your blood and lymph circulation. When you have stifled blood circulation, you can develop lethargy or more serious conditions. Your body could strain from the effort of trying to maintain a steady flow, leading to increased unhealthy weight gain. Also, when you have stifled lymph circulation, you could develop serious health conditions like lymphedema!
However, when you receive lymphatic drainage massage, your circulation will improve. This means that your body will receive more energy and you’ll feel great afterwards!
Call us today to schedule your lymphatic drainage massage!
This is the best experience I have had with a chiropractor. The doctor explained everything he was doing very thoroughly and professionally and helped me to understand why I was experiencing certain aches and pains and how I could alleviate those using massage and stretching techniques on my own. I felt comfortable and safe in this clean and friendly environment and will definitely be back for weekly follow up! I already feel so much better after my first appointment today. Highly recommend Dr. Whitmire and is team at the clinic!
Schedule an appointment with Whitmire Chiropractic
Call (503) 362-1002 or click below to request an appointment online:
Tues: 9:00am - 7:00pm
Wed: 9:00am - 7:00pm
Thurs: 9:00am - 7:00pm
Fri: 9:00am - 5:00pm