Your lymphatic system can be compared to a highway. It contains over 600 “collection sites” called lymph nodes and has a network of collecting vessels more extensive than the venous system. Running through the system on a continual basis, transporting white blood cells and gathering toxins, is a clear white fluid, known as lymph. Lymph runs through every collection site, transporting, gathering and making deliveries. When a highway becomes congested, nothing moves. The same thing can happen in your body.
When lymph fails to move properly and the collecting vessels become blocked, the system becomes like a bottleneck. The lymph starts backing up in the system, creating a toxic environment. Toxic lymph can be stored for a long time in the system. The clear lymph fluid changes from a water-like consistency to a gel-like consistency. This leads to degeneration and disorder. Reasons our lymph system may become sluggish is inactivity or eating unhealthy, processed foods.
Manual lymphatic drainage, or MLD, encourages lymph flow in the body. Proper lymph flow enhances the body’s natural ability to heal.
An MLD session lasts approximately 60 minutes and consists of very gentle, rhythmic pressure; all the while stretching the skin in the direction of the lymph pathways toward the lymph nodes. Some basic light strokes include “stationary circles” and the “pump” —no kneading or deep muscle work. This is actually a draining process intended to firm and tone skin and to boost immunity. The logic behind the modality is that these light, gentle movements will counteract the lymph system’s tendency to become sluggish or blocked.
No massage oil or lotion is used. In fact, clients can remain fully clothed during a session. MLD is sometimes so relaxing that clients are lulled to sleep. Since there is no direct pressure, it is an appropriate, and often suggested, modality for reducing swelling following surgery or injury.
MLD is helpful in preventing swelling and bruising, healing acne, reducing wrinkles, relieving fatigue, and healing from sports injuries. It also enhances the immune system. These are just a few of the amazing benefits of MLD.
You should be prepared to feel a little off-kilter following an MLD session – you may feel extremely tired or have an upset stomach. Drinking lots of water is key!