Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a gentle form of massage therapy that encourages the natural draining of lymph from the body back to the heart for excretion. The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in the body’s immune system, acting as a waste treatment plant of sorts. The lymphatic system removes toxins, microorganisms, waste products, and other foreign substances from the body, helping the body to stay healthy. Supporting healthy flow and excretion of lymphatic fluid is crucial to a strong immune system.
History of Manual Lymphatic Drainage
MLD was first pioneered in the 1930s by two Danish Doctors, Dr. Emil Vodder and Dr. Estrid Vodder as a means of treating chronic sinusitis and other immune conditions. The doctors found that patients suffering from the frequent onset of colds were prone to swelling in the lymph nodes. The lymphatic system was not well understood at this time, so many other doctors were wary of applying manual therapies. However, these doctors had such good results with their treatments that they introduced the technique in Paris after World War II as well as in Copenhagen. Their treatments were so effective that they are still in use today.
How does MLD work?
The lymphatic system depends on intrinsic contractions of the smooth muscle cells within the walls of lymph vessels. Additionally, the movement of skeletal muscles propels lymph from vessels to nodes and then to ducts which return lymph to the heart for excretion. Using rhythmic circular movements with a very precise amount of light pressure (less than 9 ounces/square inch), the massage therapist is able to stimulate flow through the lymphatic system, optimizing its capacity to fulfill its natural function for wellness.
There are a number of strokes used in Manual Lymphatic Drainage, including the “stationary circle,” “pump,” “rotary,” and “scoop.” Each of these strokes alternates between a resting and a working phase, creating a gentle pulsing of the tissue. In the working phase, the pressure gently stretches the subcutaneous tissue, stimulating it to increase activity. In the resting phase of the stroke, the pressure is released, so that the lymph vessels can completely absorb the lymph. The massage therapist uses a very gentle pressure in order to effect the lymphatic structures that are located within the subcutaneous tissues. The pressure is very exact, heavy enough to stretch these layers against the superficial fascia, but not heavy enough to manipulate the underlying muscle tissue.
Benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage
By applying this special pressure in specific regions of the body that are rich with lymphatic fluid, Manual Lymphatic Drainage stimulates the flow of stagnated lymphatic fluid around blocked areas into more centrally located, healthy lymphatic vessels. This decreases swelling in the local area, while also supporting the flow of lymph in the whole system. Depending on the location of treatment, the massage therapist will utilize different strokes aimed at increasing flow in that particular area. Since lymphatic function is such an important aspect of our health, this treatment can be effective for a wide variety of disorders including chronic fatigue syndrome, bronchitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, arthritis, acne, eczema, chronic pain, muscle spasms, whiplash, constipation, and edema. Additionally, Manual Lymphatic Drainage is recognized as the primary method for managing lymphedema.
Who We Are
Colorado Body Wisdom is a healing arts and massage studio located in Boulder, Colorado. We are committed to providing the highest quality treatments delivered with compassion by only the most skilled therapists in the field. Our mission is to spread health and relieve suffering through the compassionate, skillful, and joyful practice of massage therapy, healing arts, and wellness education.
We strive to assist clients in living satisfied and authentic lives by: delivering the highest quality massage and therapeutic treatments; receiving clients with deep compassion while creating a safe space for emotional release and personal discovery; and orienting our treatments towards each client’s innate health–not their illness or pain.
At Colorado Body Wisdom, the well-being of our therapists is just as important as that of our clients. CBW owner, Rachel Scott, founded the company with the intention of creating a mutually supportive, inclusive, and harassment-free work environment for women in the healing arts. CBW is committed to providing a safe space for female practitioners to develop their skills and build a career in a profession they love.
We invite you to come in and experience the multitude of benefits of massage therapy for yourself!