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Manual Lymph Drainage 101

Why is the lymphatic system important?

The lymphatic system is like the body’s waste processing plant. Water, blood cells, vitamins and other essential substances are returned to the heart for circulation to the tissues that need them. Bacteria and viruses are collected in the lymph nodes for the immune system to take care of. Toxins, damaged cells and other waste are recognized and processed by macrophages or moved along to be processed by the liver and kidneys.

Lymphatic System overview


If you were to sprain your ankle, the body quickly floods the area with blood to get the immune cells and healing agents there as quickly as possible. Now you have a hot, swollen painful ankle and can’t get around for some time. As the injury heals, the lymphatic system will slowly clear the extra fluid, broken cells etc. How can we get this to happen sooner so you can return to normal, pain free life?

With manual lymph drainage the lymphatic system is encouraged to work closer to its maximum capacity during the treatment and for some time afterwards. With swelling down, irritants are removed and nutrients can get to the injured cells more quickly to help them recover and repair. You now have less swelling, more comfortable movement and less pain.

How does Manual Lymph Drainage work?

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a very gentle, repetitive technique. It is so light it just moves the skin, not pressing into the muscles underneath. The ends of the lymphatic vessels are right under the skin. Moving the skin in at least two directions pulls gently on the lymphatic vessels, opening them to receive more fluid and send it on its way to the lymph nodes for processing. The repetitive nature of the technique helps to pump the deeper regions of the vessels, moving fluid along more quickly. There is also a relaxing effect on the nervous system with the lightness and repetition. This both encourages fluid movement and reduces pain.

A treatment using MLD will always start at the neck, as this is where the vessels complete their journey to the heart (clearing the path for more fluid).

What kind of conditions can Manual Lymph Drainage be used for?

Generally anytime there is inflammation or pain, there should be some effect from treatment. Consider this treatment for headaches, injuries, surgery, burns, bruises, chronic sinusitis and allergies.

Bruise pre MLD
Bruise post MLD


5 MLD sessions over 3 weeks, 45 min duration

For best results, treatment should be scheduled right away. Recurrent symptoms like allergies and menstrual cramping can be treated just before symptoms are expected- the healthier your body is, the better it can cope with changes. Some situations may require several treatments close together for best results.

I am certified in the Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage. Please check that any therapist offering MLD has received similar certification so they will be able to safely assess your condition and help you on your way to a healthier state of being.

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