Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a type of gentle massage which stimulates the natural drainage of the lymph, which carries waste products away from the tissues back toward the heart. It involves light pressure and rhythmical circular massage to aid the body in collecting and moving the lymphatic fluid, which plays a key role in delivering nutrients, antibodies and other immune constituents to the tissue cells and removing debris such as toxins, cell wastes and dead particles.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) was developed by the Danish physiotherapist Dr Emil Vodder in the 1930's. Unlike the blood circulatory system which has heart, the lymph system has no pump and depends on contractions of the smooth muscle cells in the walls of lymph vessels and physical activity to propel lymph through the vessels to lymph nodes and then beyond the lymph nodes to the lymph ducts which return lymph to the cardiovascular system.
MLD particularly helps people have been sedentary or overweight for a while. MLD has proved particularly effective for oedema (water retention) and the more serious condition lymph-oedema.
MLD also works on the nervous system, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and improving sleep patterns.
It may also help in the management of conditions such as sinusitis, headaches, migraines, digestive bloating, skin problems and immune disorders. The therapist uses various techniques to stimulate the lymph flow without stimulating blood flow or damaging the skin.