What is Manual Lymph Drainage in Massage Therapy?

By Micaela Romualdez

Manual lymph drainage (MLD) refers to a very gentle kind of massage therapy used to get rid of excess fluid from the body and improve the overall role of the lymphatic system. This particular method of massage therapy is used to treat lymphedema, which is the blocking of lymph nodes in the upper and lower extremities.

MLD dates back to the early 1930’s when it was first used on patients as a useful way to detoxify the body. Nowadays, MLD is still used to improve the internal mechanism of the lymphatic system. This kind of massage is applied gently in a direction parallel to normal lymph flow in order to unclog any blocked lymph vessels and permit lymph flow to carry waste from the body freely.

This technique is performed by a massage therapist who is certified in manual lymph drainage. The therapist applies a light form of circular massage to their clients’ skin. MLD massages must be performed to bare skin and no massage oils or lotions can be used in order for the procedure to be effective. MLD massage is applied in mild strokes toward the heart. This technique will lightly stretch the walls of the lymph vessels and promote lymph drainage.

During an MLD massage, the therapist may utilize one of four very effective MLD techniques to promote lymph drainage:

  • Scoop strokes–In this technique, the massage therapist positions his palms in the face up position with the fingers outstretched such that hands are cupped and resemble scoop. The therapist then applies twisting strokes to the patient’s skin to promote waste disposal.
  • Pump method–The massage therapist positions his palms face down on the patient’s skin and makes ovoid strokes with his fingers and thumbs to promote lymph flow.
  • Rotary method–The therapist massages the skin in circular motions with his palms down on the skin. His wrists are used to apply and reduce the pressure of the strokes.
  • Stationary circles–These strokes are applied in a stationary position using circular motions with the use of the therapist’s fingertips. This is normally applied over the neck, face, and lymph nodes.

Micaela Romualdez is a freelance article writer for DFWChiroMassage. She enjoys writing on topics such as chiropractic, rolfing, massage therapy benefits, homeopathy, Ayurvedic medicine, and other types of alternative health care.

Micaela Romualdez - EzineArticles Expert Author
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