What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage is gentle manipulation of the Lymphatic System. The practitioner gently guides lymph along its natural path along the lymphatic vessels. Because lymph cannot move on its own, this helps clear blockages and stimulates the production of white blood cells and waste removal functions of the system. This greatly optimizes the productivity of the lymphatic system and helps the body get back to its natural desired state of homeostasis.

What does it feel like?

People see the word “drainage” and imagine an intense, painful process. This could not be further from reality! MLD is so gentle and rhythmic that clients often experience a state of deep relaxation. You can learn more about the experience here.

Who can benefit?

I believe that anyone can benefit from this gentle and nurturing form of bodywork. Bodywork stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which signals that you are in a safe and relaxed place. When the nervous system relaxes, all your other systems relax and this can lead to a beautiful space of healing.

MLD has a variety of benefits, including the following:

  • Detoxification of the body

  • Immune system support

  • Pain relief

  • Relaxation and rejuvenation

  • Pre-surgery preparation and post-surgery relief

MLD may provide relief to anyone affected by:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Acute or chronic stress

  • Insomnia

  • Edema

  • Minor digestive problems

  • Allergies

  • Sinus blockages

  • Arthritis

  • Burns

  • Inflammation

  • Lyme Disease

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Eczema

  • Headaches

  • Tinnitus

  • Autoimmune disease

  • Muscle spasms

  • Acute injury, such as broken bones, sprains, whiplash, etc.

  • Vertigo

  • Wounds and bruising

  • Stress and tension related disorders

  • Physical or emotional trauma

When is a good time to get MLD?

Bodywork in general is great to get regularly to maintain physical and mental well-being. MLD works well when administered seasonally (4 times a year as seasons change) to help the body adjust to pressure, temperature, and pollen changes. It is also suggested when experiencing any of the conditions listed above or before and after any predicted stressors or emotional difficulties arise. Some people enjoy getting bodywork once a week or once a month. Every body is different and reacts to bodywork in its own way. You may try it and find that you love it and want to experience it more frequently, or you may notice that it works when you have intrusive thoughts and may want to have a session on those particularly hard days. Or you may have recently suffered an injury and heard that lymphatic drainage can help get the swelling down so that you can heal faster. I encourage you to keep your mind open to the possibilities!

Who shouldn’t receive MLD?

Because of the physiology of the lymphatic system and the other body systems that it affects, MLD is not recommended for people experiencing certain conditions:

  • Acute or systematic infection

  • If you are feeling unwell, are sick, or are recovering from an illness

  • Overactive thyroid

  • Fever

  • Poor blood circulation

  • Phlebitis

  • Venous obstruction

  • Cardiac arrhythmia

  • Blood clots

  • Hemorrhage

  • Acute absence of urination

  • Blocked intestines

  • Diverticulosis

  • Abdominal aortal aneurysm

  • Massive arteriosclerotic changes

  • Diseases involving inflammation of the intestines, such as Crohn’s disease and colitis ulcerosa

  • Adhesions in the abdomen as a consequence of surgical intervention

  • Changes in the abdomen or the lower abdominal region after radiation therapy, radiation cystitis, or colitis

  • Epilepsy

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like clarification or further explanation of anything you just read, please reach out. I would love to hear from you!